The Honda Civic Type R has received rave reviews generation after generation, starting with the Japanese CRX SiR back in 1989. Aside from the NSX and S2000, the Type R might be Honda’s most recognizable performance car. But while Japan and other countries got one R after another, America was left with little more than a single Acura Integra version, which was outstanding in its own right, but was extremely hard to come by and still remains one of the most stolen vehicles in compact car culture today.
But as of last year, we were given a long overdue handout from Honda when it publicly announced that the 10th-generation Civic lineup would contain a 300-horsepower turbocharged Type R model. Champagne bottles were opened, grown men wept tears of joy, and anxious automotive journalists drooled over the notion of pitting the front-wheel drive track demon against the fabulous Ford Focus RS.
Now that the next incarnation of the iconic compact sports car has made its global debut in prototype form at the 2016 Paris Auto Show, we can get a better grasp of what to expect when the car finally hits dealerships. While it may not be street ready just yet, the Civic Type R Prototype showcases many of the more notable styling cues, all of which are more polarizing than this year’s presidential debates. Set to be officially unveiled in 2017 as a production model, the R rounds out the revised Civic lineup, which features sedan, coupe, hatchback, and Si models.
“We promised the most ambitious, sportiest Civic lineup ever and we’re delivering on that promise with each new Civic,” says Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of Honda America. “For the first time ever in America, Honda fans and enthusiasts will have access to the ultimate in Civic performance in the form of the new Type R.”
Love it or hate it, there is no ignoring the Type R, with its unique reflective brushed aluminum-effect finish, sinisterly creased front fascia, carbon fiber splitter, red accent lines, slatted ducts, diamond-mesh inserts, and honed air intakes. It’s a busy-looking little badass, with its hood scoop, smoked LED lenses, bulging brake duct vents, carbon fiber side skirts, and raked roofline reminding us that it also means business.
While red-accented 20-inch forged wheels encapsulate similarly pigmented multi-pot big brakes and oversized rotors, out back a crescendo of trapezoidal aerodynamics make their mark. Note the sadistic looking carbon fiber diffuser, and how it rakes outward, cupping a trio of tailpipes that feature a smaller, bright metallic red center pipe, and are shielded by a duo of directional strakes. Finishing off the back end are a series of vortex generators that double as a window visor toward the rear of the roof, as an alien-looking wing reminds us that front-wheel drive cars can indeed benefit from a spoiler at high speeds.
Developed under the strict supervision of Honda R&D teams located in Europe and Japan, the prototype model heads to SEMA for its next big debut followed by an official unveiling next year of a production-ready variant. Unlike coupe and sedan models, which are made in a high tech Honda plant in Indiana, the Type R will be produced solely at the U.K. Honda plant in Swindon where the EP3 generation of the car was manufactured. But although the car will be produced overseas, sources tell us that America will be the first country to gain access to it, a kind gesture considering how many years we’ve pined for the product.
While stylistically it may remain one of the more controversial cars in recent memory, the fact that this high performance Civic lapped the Nürburgring faster than a Nissan Skyline GT-R gives plenty of reason for us to want one. Stay tuned, because with the Focus RS and Golf R already on a rampage over here in the States, and Nissan hinting at a turbocharged NISMO Sentra in the near future, the battle for the best forced induction four-banger is just starting to heat up.