- Published: Friday, 28 July 2017 00:19
$188k with COE, but it’s already sold out until 2018. Read our review and interview with Type R engineer, Hideki Kakimuna
SINGAPORE — 2017 is a milestone year for the red ‘H’ badge. It marks the 25th anniversary since it was introduced (on the original NSX-R), as well as the 20th anniversary since it first appeared on a Civic (the EK9). More importantly however, it also marks the year where the Civic Type R is finally available worldwide for the first time, and it has now arrived in Singapore.
If somehow you’ve managed to miss all the headlines the car has made over the past few months, here’s a summary: 320hp. 272km/h. Six-speed manual only. A new Nurburgring record. Downforce-producing aerodynamics. Triple exhaust pipes.
The latest FK8 generation Civic Type R is a ballistic, bewitching beast of a car and after having tested it on road and track in Germany, we found it doesn’t disappoint in the frickin’ fast stakes.
Back in Singapore, the launch price is $187,999 with COE, meaning it’s even quite reasonably priced, considering it's pretty much top dog when it comes to non-luxury brand hot hatches.
The fly in the ointment though? With global demand for the Civic Type R at fever pitch, only six units have made their way here for Singapore’s initial allotment, and local agent Kah Motor says there has been "overwhelming interest" in them. The next shipment arives early next year, so there’s plenty of time to save up.
In the meantime, we wanted to find out more about the thinking that went into the conceptualisation of the new Civic Type R, so we sat down with the car’s Assistant Large Project Leader, Hideki Kakimuna (below) for a quick Q&A session:
CarBuyer: What lessons learnt from Honda’s World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) participation can we see directly applied to the Type R?
Hideki Kakimuna: Mainly we got important feedback about aerodynamics, and it helped us develop the big wing and winglets of the car.
CB: In the past, Type R models would have thinner glass and less sound insulation to save weight - why not with this model?
HK: If we just focused on performance alone, it would be too much like a racing car, you wouldn’t be able to use it daily. So we wanted a balance between speed and daily use. We don’t think it’s a good idea to take out everything like previous Type Rs because if it’s too light it will be too close to a racing car. We wanted to make this Civic Type R a ‘daily use racing car’.
CB: Is there a particular reason for making the Type R a four-seater instead of a five-seater?
HK: Since the Integra, the "Type R" aim is for light weight. To make the car a five-seater, you need extra things like an additional seatbelt, and a different seat design which will add weight.
CB: A dual-clutch transmission would have made this car easier to sell, and possibly made the lap times faster. Did you consider a DCT for the Type R?
HK: The concept of a Type R is for simplicity and a light weight, as well as the joy of being in control of the car. This is why we found a manual gearbox the best solution. But in the future, if dual clutch gearboxes become lighter and cheaper, then there is a possibility we would use it.
CB: Some competitors, like Renault with its Megane RS, are pursuing four-wheel steering technology as a way to improve turn-in response while enhancing stability. Is this something you considered for the rear axle of the Type R?
HK: To maximise the joy of driving a Type R, this is not a must.
CB: If someone else was to break the Nurburgring record, how would Honda respond? Will they try to take the record back?
HK: If someone else takes the record, it’s not a must to take it back. It’s not so much about the competitors, it’s more about how to create the best car we can.
CB: The car's mechanical traction on the track is incredible, but there must be a limit to what a FWD car can do. At some point will you have to switch to AWD?
HK: Again, the concept of Type R is simple and lightweight. AWD cars are heavyweight and high cost. It will become a “muscular car” - it will be more powerful but also more heavy; the car’s movement will not be so sharp. The Ford Focus RS or Mercedes-AMG A45 have AWD but are not faster, as the lap times show. In the end it depends on the company’s policy and what they want to achieve.
CB: The "Type R" badge seems a little underused at the moment. Could it be extended to an Accord Type R or another NSX Type R?
HK: The red Type R badge is only for selected cars. They must meet certain criteria like high power, body rigidity and aerodynamics. If they can clear this criteria, then maybe we can do a Type R.
CB: That sounds like an NSX-R would be perfect!
HK: It would be interesting to give the NSX the Type R badge, but it would be too expensive and if people don’t buy it, the company would lose money.
CB: Whom do you see as the target customer for the Civic Type R?
HK: This time we didn’t really have a target customer. This is the first Type R that we are selling globally, including the US, so the aim was to make it for anyone, anywhere in the world.
CB: On a more personal note, what do you personally feel is more important in a car like this: a fun driving sensation or outright laptime/performance?
HK: For daily use cars, I prefer the joy of driving.
CB: What is your favourite Type R, and why?
HK: This one! (laughs) My second favourite would be the NSX-R, second generation, and third one would be the Civic Type R EP3, as I did the suspension tuning for that car.