We’ve passed the point where it is understood that electric power is the future of automotive transportation, and even sporty cars are made faster using battery power. But Honda is officially named Honda Motor Co. and has always prided itself on its prowess in developing clever combustion engines.
That’s why the company that innovated Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) as an emissions-control measure in the 1970s is introducing a new hot rod Civic Type R that may prove to be one of the last four-cylinder, manual-transmission sport coupes before such vehicles are displaced by electric power.
The engine in this case is an updated version of the turbocharged K20C1, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that we knew from the outgoing Civic Type R. In its latest incarnation, the K20C1 boasts an additional 9 horsepower and 15 lb.-ft. torque, thanks to a redesigned turbocharger, increased air intake flow rate, and a new more efficient exhaust system that features a straight-through design and an active exhaust valve. Totals are now 315 hp and 310 lb.-ft.
More power means more waste heat due to the inherent inefficiency of combustion engines, so the 2023 Type R has a larger grille and radiator with a bigger cooling fan to reject that heat.
"Type R is very important for Honda as the pinnacle of our factory performance and an irreplaceable brand that enables enthusiasts to experience Honda's racing spirit, and seek the ultimate in speed and driving pleasure," said Hideki Kakinuma, global Civic Type R development leader. "The all-new Civic Type R will continue that legacy, leveraging Honda's racetrack-proven engineering to deliver extreme performance and passion, both on the road and on the racetrack."
The Type R’s slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission is upgraded, first with a lighter-weight flywheel on the engine and with a more rigid shift lever. Revised rev-matching software helps drivers who want the help to ensure their downshifts are as smooth as possible.
The 2023 Type R is built on the latest 11th-generation Civic platform, which puts it on a 1.0-inch wider front track and 0.75-inch wider rear track, with a 1.4-inch longer wheelbase for a firmly planted stance on the road. Two-piece front brake rotors minimize unsprung weight.
We won’t know how well all these pieces work together until we drive the new car, but the outgoing Type R’s impeccable handling and drivetrain bode well for the new one. Only time will tell whether this proves to be the last of its kind before the Type R, like the Dodge Charger, is replaced by an all-electric model that is even faster.