Why Did Honda De-tune the Civic Type R's 2.0T for 2018 Honda Accord Duty?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Launched in mid-June 2017, the 2017 Honda Civic Type R is the first Honda-brand Type R product ever sold in the United States. And after generations of Honda enthusiasts tolerated relatively unimpressive horsepower totals from high-revving four-cylinder engines, Honda didn’t mess around with the latest, turbocharged Civic Type R.

306 horsepower at 6,500 rpm. 295 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm.

Yet before the Civic Type R was even on sale in the United States, we learned that the 10th-generation 2018 Honda Accord would kill the V6 and replace it with, you guessed it, the Civic Type R’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Incidentally, only a few days after that, we learned that the optional V6 in the Accord’s long-time rival, the new-for-2018 Toyota Camry, would generate 301 horsepower.

Win for Honda? Not so much, as Honda last week revealed a 2018 Accord 2.0T with 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.

Huh? What? Why?

Granted, Honda doesn’t claim the engines are identical. The 2.0T, Honda said in the company’s unveiling last week, shares “much of its design with the race-bred 2017 Civic Type R.”

Much. Not all.

But it’s not just that the 2018 Accord lost 54 of the Civic Type R’s horses somewhere between the barn and the track. The new hi-po Accord is also down on power compared with the outgoing Accord V6. Honda doesn’t even hide it, placing the Accord 3.5-liter V6’s specs right smack in the middle of the 2018 Accord’s press release. In 2017, selecting the upgrade engine resulted in 278 horsepower.

Regardless, Honda has the ability to produce a 306-horsepower Accord, so why did the company hold off? It wasn’t just to protect the Type R’s status at the top of the performance heap, though American Honda’s public relations manager James Jenkins did acknowledge that, “There is a small halo effect in having the Type R in our lineup.”

In reality, however, it’s all down to priorities. “For Type R, it’s pretty much all out performance,” Jenkins told TTAC today. “For Accord, it’s not that easy. We need to modify it slightly for that target buyer.”

Though Honda has not yet released fuel economy figures yet, Jenkins pointed to the obvious nature of the two cars’ significantly different efficiency targets.

“We also have to analyze things like vehicle size, transmission, and so on to make the best balance of that motor,” Jenkins says.

Indeed, while the Civic Type R links the 2.0T solely to a six-speed manual, the Accord 2.0T — while available with a six-speed manual — will typically be sending power to the front wheels via a 10-speed automatic.

Combine different behavior with different fuel economy expectations and the Accord’s 2.0T reveals its power in a different manner. Though down on horsepower compared with the Civic Type R, the torque deficit, at only 22 lb-ft, is slight.

Moreover, the Accord’s 273 lb-ft of torque plateaus 1,000 rpm sooner than the Civic Type R’s 295 lb-ft. Besides, the Accord’s torque figure is now 21-lb-ft stronger than the 2017 Accord V6’s, and it peaks at 1,500 rpm rather than 4,900 rpm.

With curb weight falling by 110-176 pounds in the new generation, the 2018 Accord 2.0T will undoubtedly accelerate with even greater force than the outgoing Accord V6.

As for its ability to measure up to the extreme Civic, Jenkins says, “That car is loaded with performance parts that even if the Accord did push out 306 horsepower, the Type R would out perform it.”

No doubt.

[Images: Honda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

Timothy Cain
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  • 3rdCoast 3rdCoast on Jul 21, 2017

    Simple: Accord is detuned for less warranty work while the type R happens to list 1 more hp and 5 more tq than the STI.

  • Kokomokid Kokomokid on May 19, 2018

    It is quite simple. They detuned the engine for the Accord, so it wouldn't need premium gas. Most non-German car companies like to tune their engines for regular, when practical. For the "performance" version of the Honda 2.0 for the Type R, you need premium. Strangely, BMW likes to specify premium for engines that should not need premium at all. A prime example is the 189 hp 2.0 turbo in the Mini Cooper S. That is the most "mild" 2.0 turbo now being sold, and it certainly shouldn't need premium, unless BMW has really bad head designs, or something like that, but they say to use premium.

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