By on March 7, 2019

Image: 2018 Honda Civic Type R

Honda’s hottest front-driver, the Civic Type R, may be homeless once the company’s Swindon, UK assembly plant closes in 2022, but its future will not end there.

Based on comments made at the Geneva Motor Show, it seems the next-generation model will likely tone down its appearance while accepting a helping hand from electrification.

The motivation for a hybrid Type R could lie in the automaker’s ambitious product plans for Europe. Lagging in that market, Honda believes low-emission driving is the key to unlocking sales. With this in mind, the company just announced that every Honda vehicle sold in that region in 2025 will host either a hybrid or electric powertrain.

Speaking to PistonHeads, Kohei Hitomi, project lead for Honda’s cute urban EV (previewed by the e Prototype), said a new Type R can (read: likely will) benefit from an electric motor or two.

“We think it’d be quite easy to achieve Type R performance with a full EV right now, but Type R isn’t just about performance,” he said. “It’s also about handling, operation and driveability. We don’t think it’s as simple as replacing that with electric power. That’s not the right direction for Type R.”

Hitomi suggested there’s early planning afoot to look at how the Type R experience could be improved by electrification.

“People complained when we said the Type R would use a turbocharger, but now they appreciate the new possibilities this has provided,” Hitomi said. “I believe it would be the same for electrified vehicles as well; people who love Type R will come to realise what it can add to the driving experience. We just need to find the best attributes that are relevant for the Type R, so as to enhance the experience without losing what makes a Type R.”

Hitomi’s remarks comes as Europeans prepare to take ownership of Honda’s new CR-V Hybrid. Differing from conventional hybrids, the electrified CR-V uses a multi-mode setup combining two electric motors and a fixed-gear transmission. Three drive modes allow the driver to put power to the front or all four wheels in a variety of ways:

Honda Europe describes the modes here:

EV Drive, where the lithium-ion battery supplies power to the electric propulsion motor directly; Hybrid Drive, where the engine supplies power to an electric generator motor, which in turn supplies it to the electric propulsion motor; and Engine Drive, where the engine is connected directly to the wheels via a lock-up clutch

Doesn’t sound engaging enough for a Type R buyer, but Acura’s NSX provides another example of how to use electrification to a vehicle’s advantage. Three electric motors, a V6 engine, and a conventional transmission type combine to give the NSX all-wheel-drive potency. If Honda engineers do bestow electrification upon the Type R, it’s not unthinkable that the model might see its rear axle come alive.

As for where that model will come from, that’s another story. Honda said following the Swindon announcement that North America will draw its future Civic models from within the region, meaning the hot hatch will have to find a home at an American or Canadian plant.

[Image: Honda]

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10 Comments on “It’s Looking Like the Next Honda Civic Type R Won’t Be Gas-only...”

  • avatar

    How I loathe the look of this car.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. Many of the new cars & trucks out now look like Transformer ‘bots. From the cartoon… “Robots in disguise”

  • avatar

    That idea worked so WELL for the CRX replacement CRZ?

    Again, another no sales replacement for a great car.

    • 0 avatar

      You can add the hybrid NSX to their list of successful hybrid sports cars. /s Honda made efficient cars for their entire automotive history and then they were destroyed by fuel economy regulations.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly! CRZ and NSX are shining examples of why ‘sports hybrids’ are absolutely worthless. NSX, especially so. Sure it’s performance numbers are good, but nothing that isn’t matched or beaten by purely ICE cars and DEFINITELY not for $157K!!! At 22mpg highway, I thought hybrids are supposed to be super fuel efficient? Exactly what benefits did electrifying this car produce? A bigger price tag, more complication, barriers to hotrodding, expensive batteries that will need replacement. Electrification brings literally nothing to the table outside of scoring brownie points with tree huggers and beauracrats.

      • 0 avatar

        Hard to judge the success of the NSX, its clearly not meant to be a volume seller.

        The problem with the CRZ is it wasn’t sporty enough. Handling was average based on reviews. The electric motors didn’t make it do anything better. It was basically just a 2 door hatchback hybrid… ohhhh how exciting. Pretty much doomed from the start since the focus wasn’t on making it fast or nimble. The original CRX was great because its light weight made the best use of the chassis and engine. My brother had a CRX Si and it was a blast to drive. The CRZ never recaptured any of that fun. Honda needed to use the additional battery power to provide both a speed boost (instant big torque).

        Normally hybrids don’t gain much in terms of highway mileage anyway, its the city mileage number where a hybrid sports car could make sense. Heck my 460HP C7 gets 30MPH highway since the V8 is just above idle at 65 MPH in 7th gear.

  • avatar

    Speaking of different hybrid drivetrain configurations, how is the Accord Hybrid doing lately? I mean the current one with the direct-drive (gas engine to wheels) and series hybrid.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t know the sales numbers, but hybrid-izing a Type-R with a drivetrain of that type would ruin the car, the reason being that the engine is out of sync with what the car is doing.

      Starting the car cold results in a revving engine that doesn’t vary speed when going into gear, and less variability in speed during normal driving than normal. I don’t know how the CR-Z drove, but it couldn’t be much different.

  • avatar

    The Type-R died, as did Honda, when they took away VTEC with the rest of its personality. It’s just an uglier Focus ST.

  • avatar

    The Type-R died, as did Honda, when they took away VTEC with the rest of its personality. It’s just an uglier Focus ST.

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