The Type R Snub

How long will you wait for the new CTR?

By Aaron Bonk
Photos courtesy of Honda

You want a Civic Type R. Honda knows you want a Civic Type R. And yet, despite your willingness to pay for what’s been the brand’s most capable Civic for the past 20 years, you’ve never been able to buy one.

You know that you’ve always been able to go to the trouble and expense of importing an overseas model, fumbling through the gears with the wrong hand, but you didn’t and you probably never will. You know that you can also convert whatever Civic it is that you’ve got in the likeness of whatever Civic Type R it is that you wish you had, but keen eyes will always know that your DX will always be just a DX.

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Honda's introductory Civic Type R is impressive even by today's standards, still claiming one of the highest naturally aspirated specific outputs in automotive history. Whether or not the impending CTR will assert a similar sort of distinction is still unknown.

No other overseas carmaker’s had a larger North American enthusiast base than what Honda had throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium. Fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-generation Civics didn’t need TV airtime or gimmicks to sell and nearly 25 years later fetch close to their original sticker prices. To be fair, Honda didn’t have to offer an American version of the Civic Type R.

But now it does. The 2016 Civic is a spectacular car. For an Accord. And, at just 174 hp, the Civic EX’s turbocharged engine matched with that rubber-band-driven transmission isn’t inspiring anybody who’d otherwise seek Type R status. For those who choose to go fast, there are only so many fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-generation Civics that can be passed around.

All of which just may very well lead the Civic Type R hopeful toward a car that does just about everything they want and, by summer’s end, can be taking up space inside their garages. We’re talking about the Ford Focus RS, a car that’s got a heritage as deep as the Type R’s in Europe and that Ford’s continually made efforts to improve upon at the nod of its enthusiast base. And, like the Type R allegiant who’ve been clamoring for a performance-minded Civic variant for the past two decades, so did those faithful to the Focus, only here, Ford responded. And it didn’t take them 20 years to do it.

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You cared more about Honda's last attempt at a Civic Type R than just about anybody else but you still couldn't buy one. In all likelihood, you will be able to buy its next iteration. Let's hope it'll be worth the wait.

All signs point to the U.S. getting its first-ever Civic Type R sometime in the near future, though, but the questions remain: Will it be good enough? Will it be too late. And will it be worth it? The Focus RS bangs out 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque from its Mustang-derived turbo engine and puts it to work through an all-wheel-drive layout that, when the Drift Mode switch is flicked, allows it all to behave more like something driven by its rear wheels than anything else. Imagining what the RS would be capable of a year ago wasn’t too hard in light of the brand’s already impressive Focus ST. Take a hard look at the Civic EX and dreaming up an RS-beating CTR all of a sudden isn’t so easy. But the RS’s best feature? You can actually buy one.

But you’re not buying what Ford’s got to sell, no matter how impressive it may be or no matter how many times your Type R sensibilities have been snubbed by Honda and, despite how all of this might sound, neither am I. But the larger question still remains: What are we gonna do when we run out of ’88-’00 Civics because, 25 years from now, none of us’ll be scouring Craigslist for a tenth-gen EX.

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Aaron Bonk
Editor at VTEC Academy
Aaron Bonk first took an interest in Honda performance in the early 1990s. After studying mechanical engineering, he established Holeshot Racing—one of the first tuning shops to specialize in Honda engine swaps. There Aaron developed many Honda-specific engine transplants, long before engine mount kits and aftermarket wiring harnesses were realities. After more than a decade of development and professionally swapping Honda engines, he later transitioned into a career as an automotive journalist—authoring three Honda technical books—and has since held staff positions and contributed regularly to nearly a dozen print and online publications. To be sure, there’s no author who’s penned more words about the Honda brand. Aaron is the Editor and co-founder of VTEC Academy and resides in Southern California.