Long wait ends for R-type Honda

The new Honda Civic Type R five-door hatchback. (Bud Wells photos)

Of the many persons attracted by the flash of the 2017 Honda Civic Type R Touring, some weren’t sure even of its make, let alone its model identity. That’s understandable, for this is the first year it’s been imported to the U.S. The powerful sport compact was first produced in Japan in 1997 and has since been sold there and in Europe.

The Type R, with a stiffened body, is the most powerful car produced by Honda and competes with the Subaru WRX STI, Volkswagen Golf R and Ford Focus RS. Though produced by the Japanese company Honda, it is assembled in Swindon, Wiltshire, England.

This is the turbo power behind the Type R hot hatchback.

Its outstanding performance comes from a 306-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission with rev match control and three drive modes – Sport, Comfort and R-plus. The system defaults to the quick Sport mode, which can be reduced to Comfort or increased to R-plus which tightens steering considerably. The rev match feature allows smooth downshifts at relatively high rates of speed.

Identifying it as something special, particularly to youthful drivers, is a large wing spoiler, which sits 9 inches above the height of the rear deck.

Suspension includes MacPherson strut front and multilink rear, with adaptive dampers and variable-ratio electric power steering. Large Brembo brake calipers are red, showing through the wheel spokes. The car’s turning circle is a wide 39.5 feet. It rides on low-profile Continental 245/30R20 tires.

Red suede sport seats, deeply bolstered, and even brighter red seatbelts are an interior highlight. A 7-inch display illustrates the navigation system and premium audio with 12 speakers and subwoofer.

Jan and I headed west on U.S. 34, testing the Type R on the twists and bends as far as the Dam Store at the entrance to the Big Thompson Canyon, where U.S. 34 is blocked for the winter, to reopen near Memorial Day in May 2018. The store and its parking lot serve as a turnaround during the highway closure.

Cargo space in the Type R five-door hatchback is 25.7 cubic feet with the rear seats in place. Riding on a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, the Honda is 179.4 inches long, stands 56.5 inches in height and has curb weight of 3,117 pounds.

With all the power, interior sportiness and other features such as rearview camera, electric parking brake and a triple-outlet sport exhaust, sticker price for the Type R is $34,775.

The Type R’s 306 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. torque overshadows the popular Civic Si tuner model’s 205 horsepower and 192 torque. The Si, however, carries an impressive EPA estimate of 38 miles per gallon on the highway, compared with 28 for the Type R. The drive to the Dam Store and back averaged 26.3 mpg.