Electrification Won't Kill the Honda Civic Type R

The next Type R probably won't be gas-only, but Honda says it has no plans to cancel its hot hatch.

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2023 Honda Civic Type R
Photo: Honda

Like a lot of other outlets, we’re big fans of the 2023 Honda Civic Type R. We’re definitely not fans of the massive markups dealers are adding, but it’s a fantastic, super fun-to-drive hot hatch. Of course, we were going to love it. Now, Honda’s confirmed it plans to keep building Civic Type Rs for us to love even as emissions regulations are forcing automakers to build more hybrids and EVs.

Autocar reports that at the UK launch of the new Type R, Hideki Kakinuma, the car’s head engineer, said, “Without Type R, there is no Honda.” That’s a bold statement, but we sure do like hearing it. Especially now that other automakers such as Ford have seemingly given up on hot hatches, at least in the U.S.

He admitted that with “carbon neutrality and emissions regulations that are very stringent, it’s very difficult to think about such a sports model in these boundaries. But for Honda, they are only new hurdles, new challenges to provide our customers the joy of driving. Yes, we will definitely be keen to bring further Type Rs.”

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As with most future cars, though the odds of the next Type R being ICE-only are low. Technically, Kakinuma said the chance of it happening is “not zero,” but he suggested a hybrid or fully electric powertrain is much more likely. “Carbon neutrality doesn’t have to be focused on the powertrain itself,” he said. “It can have the possibility of achieving it even though you are driving a car with an ICE. So I would not reject the possibility that the next Type R can be ICE. However, given the current circumstances, this is very unlikely.”

And while electrification adds new challenges to the process of building truly fun-to-drive cars, he promised the next version will still feel like a Type R. According to Kakinuma, “[T]he Type R itself does not depend on the powertrain. It’s a certain philosophy, a principle of the joy of driving, and that involves a lot of aspects… If this excitement can be provided with a certain powertrain that is carbon neutral or somewhat electrified – or a completely different technology – this will also be justifiably a Type R.”

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That’s reassuring to hear. Although the idea of the Civic Type R eventually going fully does raise the question of whether or not it will still be front-wheel drive. There’s no real reason to do so other than tradition, so perhaps it will get all-wheel drive? We’ll probably have to wait years before we get that answer, but we’re definitely looking forward to driving future Civic Type Rs regardless of their layout.