Now, I want to start off by saying that I’m not a Honda fanboi by any means. Not that I ever had anything against Honda, I think they’re one of the better auto manufacturers out there, I was just always tied up in things that were less reliable and generally shittier in my quest to master automotive masochism.
Back like four years ago, or something, I signed one of those online petitions on change.org for Honda to bring over the Civic Type R, and like anyone who has ever signed one of these things, I received updates much more regularly than I cared to, and when I finally saw it was coming, I obviously gave myself a full-fledged pat on the back for being entirely responsible. So you’re welcome.
Now, since this announcement, I’ve managed to avoid almost all of the news regarding the car’s release. Mainly because everyone who really wanted it here has wanted it here for so long that we’ve actually outgrown the demographic. Had this happened when 18-24 year old me was around, it would be a different story I’m sure..
My initial thoughts were that this car was to compete with the Subaru STI and the Focus RS. The noteworthy 300 horsepower, all wheel drive, turbo hatches. I heard it was going to be a turbocharged Type R with somewhere in that realm of power, costing in the mid-$30k range, so I just assumed Honda was going to attempt to steal from that pool.
So here’s what really threw me for a loop..
It’s still front wheel drive.
..Now I’m 99% sure I’m the last person on Earth to learn of this, since I’ve paid virtually no attention to news around the car, but I think this is absolutely asinine. Why the hell would Honda, the most rationally-minded, well-thought-out automotive company on the planet, leave out such an essential component? Who is the competition? The VW GTI has a starting price almost $10,000 lower. The Focus ST, identical pricing to the GTI. I get that the Type R has more power, but once you cross that 300hp mark in a FWD vehicle, it’s pretty much useless for city driving anyways, unless you’re into wrist-snapping torque steer and a set of front tires per oil change, thus deeming it a null point for the average Joe.
People will certainly argue that a true Civic Type R HAS to be front wheel drive because that’s what it’s always been. And that history lesson is obviously true. But it’s also always been naturally aspirated and 200-ish horsepower. If you want to be the flagship [negating the NSX] “performance car” of your brand in 2017, 200 naturally aspirated, FWD horsepower isn’t going to get you there. It’s time to adapt to what the automotive enthusiast in your target market is looking for, except that adaptation fell short.
So, as far as I see it, this was too little, too late.
The Type R has been absent from the US market for SIXTEEN YEARS. I get the appeal of a cliff-hanger to the automotive enthusiasts, but the people who first cried for the return of the R badge after the death of the DC2 in 2001 are likely approaching 40 by now (let that sink in for a second). And it’s hard to fit the family of 5 plus a golden retriever in your new Civic Type R, while simultaneously trying to reason with your wife why you borrowed $35k against your 401k for a hatchback that can’t make it to your tween’s hockey practice when there’s two inches of snow on the ground.
Now, just to reiterate, I think Honda has historically been a fantastic brand, and I really hope that the sales numbers prove me wrong. I just struggle to see the reasoning to fall short on such a long-awaited return of the R-badge.
That is all.