It's kind of a miracle that the Honda Civic Type R is for sale in North America. It was exactly the kind of car enthusiasts here spent decades lusting after, filling the hole in their hearts with Gran Turismo matches and YouTube videos and the occasional Japanese tuner magazine. It was worth the wait, too—the current Civic Type R is an absolute monster to drive, even if it added a turbocharger to evolve beyond its typical high-revving VTEC antics. Now we know the Civic Type R is coming back for more, and it may yet evolve further.
Honda is likely to unveil an all-new Civic sometime this year, although its exact unveiling has been delayed for obvious reasons. It's hard to believe it's been five years since the current one dropped, but it has, and like clockwork a new one is due out soon. And one major change is that the next Civic Type R could add hybrid power somehow.
Spy shooters in Germany caught a glimpse of the latest CTR in testing mode, wrapped in camouflage but still sporting that signature giant wing. The big change could be under the skin this time, though. As Kohei Hitomi, Honda’s project lead for the new e Prototype, told Piston Heads last year, “People complained when we said the Type R would use a turbocharger, but now they appreciate the new possibilities this has provided. I believe it would be the same for electrified vehicles as well; people who love the Type R will come to realize what it can add to the driving experience. We just need to find the best attributes that are relevant for the Type R, so as to enhance the experience without losing what makes a Type R.”
I too think that's probably inevitable, and I welcome it. I've been waiting for some company to democratize the hybrid performance car and bring that technology out of the Porsche 918 price range. (No, the Honda CR-Z wasn't it, chief.) Honda's a leader in green cars that are also fun to drive, so I think it'd be in a strong position to electrify the fastest and best Civic and still get good results.
The question is, what form will that take? A full-on hybrid system or more of a 48-volt mild-hybrid system? That's unclear, and these spy shots certainly don't tell us much. It's also not known whether the next CTR will keep the famous front-wheel drive layout or finally send power to all four wheels. The current one has plenty of tricks to eliminate torque steer, so that may not be necessary, but it could add to the car's price tag if it's implemented.
Regardless, I'm just glad the Civic Type R is happening again. And given it's been pretty successful here in America, I think there's a strong chance it will come back to our shores once more.