Auto enthusiasts rejoice! We live in a time where you can wander into your local Honda dealership and simply purchase a fully formed Civic Type R. Many may not be aware, but for a very long time, things were not so easy.
Rewind 20 years. You’re pining for a Civic Type R to call your own. Of course, since they’re not sold on US shores, it’s a dream that’s a little out of reach. So you decide to roll up your sleeves and sorta build your own. You begin by purchasing a brand new Civic SI. It isn’t cheap. It’s also only the beginning of the long journey to achieve true Type R greatness.
The 1.6L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder is the first thing to go. It’s good, but only makes 160 horsepower. You swap it out for the highly coveted 1.8L B18C5 engine from the Acura Integra Type R. A power-plant born from lessons learned as Honda developed engines for Formula and Indy cars. For a production engine at the time, it was so advanced, that it allowed us a full view into the future of sophisticated engine design. All from beneath its famous red valve cover. Great as it is, It could still use a turbo.
So you shell out more cash for one of those. Now at least power output hovers around 300 hp. To help this more powerful engine take deep breathes, you install the essential bolt-on upgrades. An intake and exhaust. A bigger radiator and large front-mounted intercooler. Safety begins to dictate the need to beef up the brakes. An important system not to be ignored. A set from Brembo will do nicely. Now You turn your attention over to an aggressive, overly stylized body kit. Big wheels and an even larger spoiler. Cheap sets droop and dont line up at the seams. This simply won’t do, so you spend big and do it right.
On the inside, you source those immediately recognizable red Type R sport seats from Japan. They set you back, a lot, but no shortcuts can be made as you build your perfect Civic Type R. Other plastic panels get swapped out for sporty carbon fiber. Aluminum pedals, a snazzy shift knob. The list goes on and on. In truth, this is only a summary of everything it would take for the transformation to be complete. In addition to the exorbitant costs, it’s good-bye factory warranty. Hasta la vista day to day reliability and dependability.
Now in 2020, for no work and far less money overall, Honda will simply sell you a fully realized, ready to go, Honda Civic Type R. Better in fact than what was built above. For starters, it retains the iconic red valve cover, but this one is bolted on top of a larger 2.0L turbo engine that makes 306 hp. The manual transmission has six gears instead of five. Stylish 20” wheels are already in place with strong Brembo brakes tucked behind and ready to go. There’s even a limited-slip differential installed. Ready to mitigate the flow of power and control all that turbo-charged torque. You couldn’t even afford one of those in our build above.
Each extra-aggressive and hyper-stylized bumper, flared fender, scooped hood and wide side skirt fits perfectly. They also feature carbon fiber, gloss black and red trim punctuation. Don’t forget that all-important big spoiler and super sporty triple outlet center exhaust. On the inside, the front seats match the Type R red theme perfectly. They’re bolstered and extremely grippy. The wheel is trimmed in the same suede material. Thick and equally grippy in your hands. More carbon fiber and red trim elements continue from the outside on in. Tying together the Type R JDM fantasy theme even further.
The finished product is nothing short of a total and complete Type R package. Everything you’d have hoped for and dreamt up 20 years ago, only much much better. With the factory warranty and Honda’s every day dependability fully intact. In 2020, we get to have it all. Three driving modes let us toggle between relative driving comfort, to a red-line chasing thrill ride. The Honda Sense package delivers adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, lane keeping assist and road departure warning. Modern-day features that were simple pipe dreams 20 years ago.
Most important of all is the obvious sense of respect and regard Honda pays to a vehicle with as much history and notoriety as a Civic with a red ‘R’ on its side. To any tuner crazed enthusiast, this ‘R’ could stand for ‘reverence,’ ‘rare,’ or ‘revered,’ just as much as it stands for ‘race.’ Thankfully, Honda has stayed true to the source material every step of the way. Delivering us a beautiful time-capsule, to honor its glorious past. With all the modern upgrades to usher in a bright future. One that is thankfully much easier to be a part of.
Price as tested: $37,950.00