The 2017 Honda Civic Type R sucks and slices every air molecule in its path with the ravenous maw of aerodynamic architecture that makes up its front facia. Every hole and slot serves a purpose, even that random little one hidden next to the passenger side fog light.
Behind all those vents is a 306 horsepower, 295 lb.-ft 2.0-liter DOHC direct-injected i-VTEC 16-valve four-cylinder turbocharged engine. It needs fuel, spark and air to survive and it gets part of that equation through the intricate system of plumbing we’ll run through in this post.
You can read my full First Drive test of the car later today, but first, let’s get weird.
Like many cars, the new Type R has lots of square centimeters of facia space that looks like grille but is actually flat plastic. Those big mesh chunks that the fog lights are embedded in? Yeah, those are solid pieces—except for one little chunk.
The slits that do feed and cool the engine are a little more... well I’m not about to use the word “subtle” in a Civic Type R post but the air sneaks into and around the engine through smaller cracks than you might think.
Starting from the top- that scoop doesn’t feed the engine’s intake or radiator directly. But it is “real” in the sense that air passes through it and into the engine bay. Honda’s PR team explained to me that it provides “general engine bay cooling” and contributes to the Type R’s stability by sending air into, through and under the car.
I mean, sure. I’m guessing this little snout would be more accurately described as the result of a planning meeting in which designers wanted a scoop, marketers knew a blocked-off one would be razed by critics relentlessly, and so engineers were forced to figure out how to justify a hole in the hood. Whatever. It looks cool and if it cuts the engine bay ambient temperature significantly, maybe it’ll help you get an extra session around the autocross course before you start sweating your temperature gauge.
The air that actually gets eaten by the engine as part of the combustion process comes in through the slot just below the hood and above the “H” badge. That badge, of course, is red, the color of awesomesauce.
Like many modern vehicles, the Type R’s engine consumes air from an intake you can’t see that’s much lower-mounted as well. But when you open the hood, the ductwork directly feeding air from this slit toward the filter and on into the intake manifold is quite apparent.
It’s downright cool looking, actually.
The vent below and beside the “H” badge feeds the radiator. As many Jalopnik readers will know, outside air blowing across the aluminum radiator fins is far more significant to engine temperature management than any air simply blowing across the engine block through something like this Honda’s hood scoop.
The radiator, of course, cools the engine’s water (really an ethylene glycol-based liquid mixed with water known as “coolant” and/or “antifreeze”) which flows around the engine and allows it to maintain a consistent temperature.
Below the radiator is another aluminum rectangle full of fins. But while the radiator cools liquid, this one cools air. That’s the intercooler and its function is to make the air the car’s eating colder, ergo denser, which can make a bigger BOOM inside the engine which translates to “more power.”
As Honda’s specification sheet explain: fresh air goes through a filter, through the turbo’s compressor, then through the intercooler here to be cooled down before it’s directed into the engine.
Finally, at the very bottom of the Civic Type R’s face, we have two small slots for brake cooling. That’s as simple as it sounds- brakes get hot, hot brakes feel weak, so a steady stream of fresh air helps mitigate that. To what degree I couldn’t tell you, but I didn’t have any issues with brake fade in my brief track session and street drive.
Wheel-Well Air Stabilizers
Intake slits on the outside of the Type R’s face direct air purposefully into and around the wheel wells, which is supposed to help optimize the car’s stability at speed.
The Horn Hole
Did you forget about the weird outlier I promised you’d be able to guess? Or did you know it’s a regulation in at least some states for a car’s horn to have a line of sight to the street head?
I didn’t, and couldn’t figure out for the life of me why just this little section of the Civic’s fake grille area was cut out. Even when I peered in close and saw the horn behind the plastic honeycomb.
But that’s all this is: a compliance feature so Honda’s horn would be legal without blocking any engine-feeding or cooling air. I wonder how much of an aerodynamic penalty this represents?
(CORRECTION: I originally called this the 2018 Civic Type R, but in fact the car’s launching as a 2017 model. The 2018 will probably be the same, but still. Sorry!)