The latest Honda Civic Type R has arrived, and we love it (just read our review). But, like other performance sub-brands its future seemed murky in the looming era of plug-in hybrids and EVs.
Hideki Kakinuma, lead engineer for the Honda Civic Type R, has some reassuring words for Type R fans, though. Speaking to Autocar, he declared, “Without Type R, there is no Honda”.
With Honda’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, and selling only full electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars by 2040, as well as ever-tightening emissions regulations in Europe and some US states, Kakinuma admits it is “difficult to think about such a sports model in these boundaries”.
He remains upbeat, though, believing “they are only new hurdles, new challenges to provide our customers the joy of driving” and that Honda is “definitely… keen to bring further Type Rs”.
Hinting at the possibility of having the next Type R run on synthetic fuel, Kakinuma said he “would not reject the possibility” of a new Type R model using an internal combustion engine (ICE), but “given the current circumstances, this is very unlikely”.
Indeed, Honda’s European arm is restricting the quantities of Civic Type Rs it is bringing into the region so the company comfortably meets the EU’s 95g/km CO2 average target.
Kakinuma argues: “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”.
Earlier Type R models were built around highly-strung VTEC engines that loved to rev all the way up to their stratospheric redlines, but this changed in 2015 when the Civic Type R dumped the previous model’s 148kW/193Nm naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine for a turbocharged 2.0-litre mill making a beefier 228kW and 400Nm.
Since then the engine has been refined, and now produces 235kW and 420Nm in the latest Civic Type R.
MORE: Everything Honda Civic