I explained last week why I have reason to believe the new, smaller Accord is back on track to be a decent driver's car in family sedan clothes –- like it used to be in the 80s and 90s. Looks like there's hope the Civic's dark days could end, too.
Word is the upcoming Civic Type R hot hatch will be just that again: a hot hatch. Americans, unfortunately, haven't had a Civic hatch since the 2002-2005 Civic Si. And that one was lukewarm at best. The current Civic Si coupes and sedans have been raucous little rockets, but the Type R has always been on a whole other level.
Not that we Americans would know. Honda has never sent the Civic Type R our way, and that includes the most recent version, which was actually two cars — a sedan for the Asian market and a hatch for the Europeans.
But Autocar reported Friday the newest incarnation, debuting in 2015 and based on the fantastic-looking Civic hatch made for Europeans and built in Britain, is being built to be the fastest front-wheel drive car to lap the Nurburgring. You have my attention, Honda.
Honda insiders say it will be developed off of technology from the World Touring Car Championship and could have a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Sounds like a GTI killer to me, and maybe even a Golf R fighter. And a Honda turbo should theoretically have lots of torque and still be able to rev and rev.
I think the current Civic Si is decent, but suffers the same drawbacks as all of the latest American Civics: ungainly looks, cheapo interior, generally insipid aura. Many reviews say it still lags behind its turbocharged competition, like the WRX and Mazdaspeed3.
And while the latest Euro Civic has been criticized for not being a quantum leap over the previous model, it's still regarded as a major advance over the one we get and more up to standards set by the Golf and Focus. Even in base spec, it looks wicked futuristic compared to its unrefined, rural cousin we get over here.
Honda has a chance to offer a serious rival to the hot Golfs and Focuses in this country, too. What if it positioned the Civic Type R in the vein of the Integra Type R, a specialized but sophisticated hot hatch? (Don't badge it as an Acura here, because a chrome beak has no place on this car.) Honda could finally offer something to directly combat the hottest hatches in this country, and something that could at least rival VW on quality and driving dynamics. It would also provide some desperately needed eye candy at Honda showrooms. Honestly, it's hard for any little boy to get excited over any new Honda in the showroom. But some would dream of the day when they can reach the pedals in a Civic Type R.
But the biggest reason to bring the next Type R to America is simple: Honda, you used to give us the same great Civics you supplied the rest of the world with. Why can't we have that again? Why can't our Civics be neatly styled and fun to drive, too? Why can't we have hatches again? Ford, Hyundai, VW, Kia and others have proven Americans will buy them.
Americans buy a lot of Hondas. I live in California. It used to be if you told a Civic driver there was a better small car, their face would make the same look if you told them you hit a baby with a rolled-up newspaper. Some day, they're going to wander into a Mazda dealer and have a go in a 3, which is much better in many ways. The Honda-ists here are still so incredibly faithful. If American Honda is going to pass off the Fiber One version of the Civic to us, why can't we also get a sweeter, tastier version as well? The Frosted Flakes Civic, if you will.
What do you think? Is it time for Honda to hook us up with the Civic Type R, or is the Type R legend a thing of the past?
Photo credit Honda