Let me start this review off with a promise: I will try to avoid any “VTEC kicked in, yo” jokes.
That’s in part because the 2017 Honda Civic Type R doesn’t exhibit the behavior of past VTEC engines that inspired the jokes, but mainly because the meme is played out.
Full disclosure: Honda provided us with travel to the Seattle area, and provided us with airfare, food, and lodging. They even used a seaplane to get us from Seattle to the hotel and fed us dinner on a small cruise ship. We got some track time in the Type R in addition to on-road drives. Also, they gave us seat time in go-karts, in which I spun out a lot. They left us with a scale-model Type R which will likely never leave its box. If it does, I will use it for living-room races against a scale-model Ford Focus ST I have from a previous gig, if I ever take that one out of its box.
After a four-hour journey that included a ferry ride across the Northumberland Strait from Prince Edward Island, we arrived at one of the largest import car meets in Atlantic Canada in Bedford, Nova Scotia. There, owners showed off rows upon rows of cars in varying states of modification and personalization, from tasteful to tasteless.
My car club friends and I walked though to say hello to other folks we’d only previously chatted with on our local import forum, all the while gawking at some of the wildest vehicles east of Quebec. Body kits, massive turbo setups, and convoluted engine swaps ruled the day. But I only remember one vehicle vividly, parked at the end of a row and free from the usual slack-jawed, drooling masses: a pristine, unmodified, 1999 or 2000 Honda Civic Si Coupe (actually an SiR in Canada) still wearing its factory Electron Blue Pearl paint.
To me, back in 2007, this was automotive perfection.
Fast forward some 10 years later. I had the chance to meet the 2017 Honda Civic Si, a quicker, more mature, and more usable younger sibling wearing a similar shade of blue — then proceeded to act like a 22-year-old again and drive the ever-living snot out of it.
Honda’s new Civic is a heck of a car, even if the styling is polarizing. But it’s not a performance car like Civics of old, where mixing and matching engine and transmissions from other models could yield a very quick ride with a stratospheric redline. Enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting the Si and Type-R trims, which promise plenty of power — but what of those who already have a car, or need features the high-performance cars don’t have?
Enter Hondata, the firm that’s been tuning Honda engine management systems for years. It’s been the industry leader for those looking to do those engine swaps, and has developed software and devices to add performance to the factory ECU.
Recently, Hondata released its FlashPro for the newest Civic powered by the 1.5-liter turbo engine, and I had a chance to drive a Hondata-tuned 2017 Civic.
Even stock, the new turbo Civic is faster in the quarter-mile than the previous-generation Civic Si, so the extra performance should be impressive.
It wouldn’t have escaped your attention that there have been some bumpy years in #CivicNation. Honda acknowledged this itself, scuttling back to the drawing board for an “emergency refresh” in 2013 after
the people with adenoids Consumer Reports pulled its Recommended rating.
What caused the problem? A misfire in focus groups? Bean counters? Aliens? Alien bean counters in focus groups? We may never know. What we do know is the 2017 Honda Civic is quite good, so let’s see how the coupe version stacks up in base LX trim against its higher-spec brothers.
As I drive the new 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback through the yellow leaves of Ontario’s autumn, a very tired metaphor comes to mind. You probably know the one. It includes a guy with the initials R.F. — and no, not the one who founded this particular corner of the internet.
I’m going to refuse this inspiration. Leveraging The Road Not Taken in automotive journalism is as banal as quoting Dom Toretto.
Instead, let’s talk about something else entirely: The ’70s.
The five-door bodystyle hasn’t turned the acclaimed 10th-generation Civic into an ugly duckling. The sloping roofline transitions smoothly into the rear liftgate, which incorporates taillights identical to those of the Civic sedan.
A purported screenshot of a Honda ordering screen over at CivicX shows the new turbo-powered, tenth-generation Civic will be made available with a six-speed manual transmission starting next year.
The only engine available with a row-your-own box for this year’s Civic is the naturally aspirated K20 2-liter four that cranks 158 horsepower — 16 horsepower fewer than the turbocharged mill — in the base LX model. Starting with the EX-T model, Honda is planting its 1.5-liter turbo into many of its trims with a CVT only to start.
The recently announced Civic Coupe will get the same powertrain options as the sedan — manual only on the base model, CVT everywhere else — when it goes on sale in March. It’s unclear if the coupe would receive a mid-year update to add manual transmissions.
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