Honda’s hottest front-driver, the Civic Type R
, may be homeless once the company’s Swindon, U.K., assembly plant closes in 2022, but its future will not end there.
Based on comments made at the Geneva Motor Show
, it seems the next-generation model will likely tone down its appearance while accepting a helping hand from electrification.
The motivation for a hybrid Type R could lie in the automaker’s ambitious product plans for Europe. Lagging in that market, Honda believes low-emission driving is the key to unlocking sales. With this in mind, the company just announced that every Honda vehicle sold in that region in 2025 will host either a hybrid or electric powertrain.
Speaking to PistonHeads
, Kohei Hitomi, project lead for Honda’s cute urban EV (previewed by the e Prototype
), said a new Type R can (read: likely will
) benefit from an electric motor or two.
“We think it’d be quite easy to achieve Type R performance with a full EV right now, but Type R isn’t just about performance,” he told the publication. “It’s also about handling, operation and driveability. We don’t think it’s as simple as replacing that with electric power. That’s not the right direction for Type R.”
Hitomi suggested there’s early planning afoot to look at how the Type R experience could be improved by electrification.
“People complained when we said the Type R would use a turbocharger, but now they appreciate the new possibilities this has provided,” Hitomi said. “I believe it would be the same for electrified vehicles as well; people who love 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.”
Hitomi’s remarks come as Europeans prepare to take ownership of Honda’s new CR-V Hybrid. Differing from conventional hybrids, the electrified CR-V uses a multi-mode setup combining two electric motors and a fixed-gear transmission. Three drive modes allow the driver to put power to the front or all four wheels in a variety of ways:
Honda Europe describes the modes here:
EV Drive, where the lithium-ion battery supplies power to the electric propulsion motor directly; Hybrid Drive, where the engine supplies power to an electric generator motor, which in turn supplies it to the electric propulsion motor; and Engine Drive, where the engine is connected directly to the wheels via a lock-up clutch
Doesn’t sound engaging enough for a Type R buyer, but Acura’s NSX provides another example of how to use electrification to a vehicle’s advantage. Three electric motors, a V6 engine, and a conventional transmission type combine to give the NSX all-wheel-drive potency. If Honda engineers do bestow electrification upon the Type R, it’s not unthinkable that the model might see its rear axle come alive.
As for where that model will come from, that’s another story. Honda said following the Swindon announcement that North America will draw its future Civic models from within the region, meaning the hot hatch will have to find a home at an American or Canadian plant.