It’s a big day for fans of fast Hondas. A photograph from a Japanese Civic Type R brochure has leaked on the Civic XI forum, so we might finally know what Honda meant when it said that the new Type R would be its most powerful U.S.-market car ever. The brochure quotes figures of 330 PS and 420 Nm of torque, which roughly translate to 326 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s an extra 19 horsepower and 15 lb.-ft. of torque over the old car, although it’s worth noting that Japanese and European FK8 Civic Type Rs got an extra 10 horsepower over American models. While it’s far from certain that the American version of the new Civic Type R will see a reduction in horsepower to meet emissions requirements, it’s not off the table just yet.
With good news often comes bad, and the new Civic Type R appears to be significantly heavier than the old model. According to this brochure, the new Civic Type R is said to clock in at 3,160 pounds (1,430 kg), up 88 pounds spec-for-spec over the outgoing car. Obviously, weight is another area where the JDM and USDM cars may slightly differ, but 3,160 pounds is a pretty solid ballpark figure. For context, a Hyundai Elantra N clocks in at 3,186 pounds, so while the new Type R is heavier than the old one, it’s not exactly what you’d call tubby.
The other big purported change in the new Civic Type R’s specs is a final drive ratio of 3.842:1 compared to 4.111:1 on the outgoing car. While that’s only around 6.5 percent longer than on the old car, I’m interested to see if it alters the car’s character. The FK8 Civic Type R’s reasonably short gears added so much engagement to the driving experience by giving the driver frequent opportunities to work the incredibly crisp shifter. Second gear was dialed in to top out at 62 mph [Editor’s Note: 62 in second gear doesn’t sound short to me, but what do I know – JT] , while redline in third hit just before license-losing territory.
Anyone who’s spent significant time in the old Civic Type R will know that the fuel tank is roughly the size of a Zippo, and it seems that the new car will continue this tradition with a fuel tank capacity of 12.4 gallons (47 liters). Expect fairly frequent stops for high-octane dino juice if you want to make the most of the turbocharged engine’s powerband.
In case you haven’t noticed already, I’m incredibly stoked for the new Civic Type R. The old one was my favorite new car I drove in 2020, just an incredible exercise in masterfully tuning a performance car. The steering had meaty yet tactile weighting, the engine had the glorious linear surge of power to redline often missing from modern turbocharged engines, overall grip was incredible, and the shifter felt nigh-on perfect. Dare I say, even better than a Miata’s or S2000’s shifter.
Sure, there were a lot of little annoying things about the old Civic Type R. The infotainment system had a glitch that limited audio volume while using Waze, the stereo was somewhat rubbish, the lack of a middle seat in the back was annoying, and the absence of heated seats felt slightly ridiculous [Editor’s Note: Woo-hoo-hoo look at you, big shot – JT] , but great cars that really leave an impression almost all have flaws. Rounded character can make for a car you love warts and all, and the FK8 Type R really fit that bill. Best of all, the old Civic Type R offered remarkable civility. At the end of the weekend, despite the laughably thin 35-series sidewalls, somewhat constant NVH, and moon surface Toronto streets I was driving on, I didn’t feel tired or beat up.
Honda’s engineers masterfully tuned the springs and dampers for a wonderful balance between body control and ride comfort, to the point where I drove with the dampers in the stiff setting all the time. With every shift, every turn of the wheel, every squeeze on the throttle out of corners, the garish looks faded away to the point where I couldn’t care less. Sure, it looked like a standard Civic hatchback owner blew a paycheck or two on bits from AliExpress, but the Boost Blue color suited the anti-social looks. The old Civic Type R was mastery in performance car calibration cloaked in a Hot Import Nights bodyshell. Hopefully the new one lives up to the precedent set by its incredible predecessor.
Lead photo credit: Honda