People have been in a frenzy over the newest Honda Civic Type R, and this might have some people confused. It is just a Civic, after all.
Unless you grew up a Honda enthusiast in the 1990s, it’s perfectly excusable if you’re wondering why a Honda Civic sold for $200,000 at an online auction recently. After all, the Honda Civic is known to be an affordable and economical car, more geared towards saving gas and money than setting records at the Nurburgring. And while one can argue all day long if Nurburgring records even mean anything, the fact that the Civic Type R holds the record for front-wheel-drive vehicles is just one of the reasons why enthusiasts are excited about it.
Up until now, the Civic Type R nameplate has not been sold in the North American market for reasons that are likely really boring but make financial sense. Thankfully, the Japanese automaker has finally decided to bring it stateside with an attractive price tag of $34,775 including destination. And with that, buyers get their hands on a hatchback version of the Civic powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
SEE ALSO: 2017 Honda Civic Type R Review
There’s a lot more to the Honda Civic Type R than just specs and its aggressive design, which admittedly isn’t for everybody. How can so many people be excited for a front-wheel-drive Honda, you might ask? That’s because, for many, the Civic Type R serves as a symbol that Honda is once again embracing performance in the U.S., rather than focusing on fuel-efficient hybrids and family cars. It means there’s hope that Honda can once again be known for exciting and fun-to-drive cars in North America.
Growing up as a car enthusiast in the 1990s, I witnessed first hand just how popular the Honda Civic was among import enthusiasts. The affordable Civic became the platform for modifying, with the aftermarket offering a plethora of goods. Not only was it lightweight, but the Civic was the perfect donor car for the larger and more powerful 1.8-liter DOHC VTEC engine found in the Acura Integra GS-R and Type R. There were also plenty of turbo kits available, regardless of the engine, that made Civics much quicker than some would believe.
Even though the EK9 Civic Type R was never offered in North America, that didn’t stop enthusiasts from trying to build their own versions, going as far as importing all the parts that were necessary including the front lip, rear spoiler, headlights, grille, wheels, interior, and more. There were right-hand-drive conversions being done and, ironically, many of these cars were being modified to look like stock versions of Japanese cars. Sure, Acura offered the Integra Type R, but it just wasn’t the same since the Civic was more affordable and more popular than the Integra.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Honda Civics of All Time
While Honda has created other versions of the Civic Type R since, following generations didn’t have the same hype as the first model. The second-generation Civic Type R based on the EP3 Civic isn’t remembered very fondly among enthusiasts. And while the third- and fourth-generation models offered in Europe were plenty fine on their own, they came at a time the Civic’s styling was considered bland and unexciting.
When Honda decided to overhaul and introduce the 10th-generation Civic, it was clearly going to be a winner. We named it the 2016 AutoGuide.com Car of the Year and the announcement that Honda had intentions of bringing the Type R to North America got enthusiasts excited for the brand, which hasn’t happened for a long time. For those of us who waited decades for the Civic Type R to arrive, the time finally came. It may not make a whole lot of sense for people that viewed modified Honda Civics as rather loud lawnmowers, but that group of Civic enthusiasts from the 1990s make up a surprisingly large segment of sports car shoppers, even to this day. Best of all, many of us have entered the real world and can actually afford a Civic Type R now.
AutoGuide.com‘s own Dan Ilika had the privilege of being one of the first people to drive the 2017 Honda Civic Type R, and this is what he had to say: “For fans of sport compact cars, the Type R moniker carries a certain cache. The fact that the Civic Type R was never sold here I think only added to the allure; probably something to do with always wanting what we can’t have. But more than that, the Civic Type R just seems to defy what a small, front-wheel drive commuter car should be able to do. Having driven this new version, I totally get what all the hype has been about.”
And that’s what makes the 2017 Honda Civic Type R so particularly exciting for many enthusiasts. It shows that Honda can do more than just reliable, eco-friendly family cars and that it still cares about its dedicated enthusiast audience. For many of us who grew up in the ’90s, it represented what an attainable dream car could be, and now that we’re old enough to afford one, the nostalgia factor also plays a role in the frenzy surrounding this car.
The new Type R proves that although Honda wasn’t one of the first automakers to embrace turbocharged four-cylinder engines, it can be one of the best at building them. But most importantly, it represents what seems to be a dying breed, with more and more cars turning to electrification to boost performance and fuel economy. The Honda Civic Type R at its core does what we believe a car should do: put a smile on your face while you’re behind the wheel.
Catch our review of the new Honda Civic Type R here:
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