Japanese automaker Honda seems to be quite persistent about the presence of a Type R model (or models) even as the company dives further and further into hybrids electrification, underlining the importance of hot hatchbacks and cars made for driver enjoyment.
The current FL5 Civic Type R, the only model to wear that badge, is based on the 11th-generation Civic 5-door hatchback and offers a similar mechanical package to its predecessor – a front-drive layout with turbocharged 2.0-litre four-pot and a manual transmission.
That was the same basic rundown for cars that have been culled by other automakers as their focus shifts elsewhere, leaving behind hot hatch legacies such as the Ford Focus ST, Fiesta ST, Peugeot 308 GTI, and more recently, the Renault Megane RS.
Fortunately, the opposing view seems to be held by those at Honda with the Type R’s lead engineer Hideki Kakinuma telling Autocar: “without Type R, there is no Honda.”
Clearly, the essence of the brand does resonate with many in the enthusiast community and is one that Honda values as a core part of its DNA. However, it doesn’t preclude the fact that company’s future Type R models might need to adopt electrification or even a fully electric powertrain to stay alive.
In many countries, the Civic Type R is the only model in the Honda line up that is solely powered by internal combustion. With the FL5 due to remain as the company’s enthusiast flagship for some years to come, it’s likely things will need to change by the time a replacement is called for.
“Carbon neutrality doesn’t have to be focused on the powertrain itself,” Kakimuna adds. “It can have the possibility of achieving it even though you are driving a car with an ICE. So I would not reject the possibility that the next Type R can be ICE. However, given the current circumstances, this is very unlikely.”
“But the 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.”