Why the 2017 Honda Civic Type R Doesn’t Have All-Wheel Drive

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It would appear, at least on paper, that the 2017 Honda Civic Type R stands at a major disadvantage compared to its rivals.

While both the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, along with the Subaru WRX STI, send their output to all four wheels, the Type R retains the same front-wheel drive layout as even the most mundane models in the Civic lineup. The folks from Honda will tell you it’s a matter of keeping up with tradition. After all, no Honda Type R to this point has been fitted with all-wheel drive, let alone the Civic.

“Civic traditionally has always been front-wheel drive and this platform is front-wheel drive,” said Civic senior product planner Rob Keough. “And Type R is about what’s the maximum that we can achieve out of that platform.”

Putting power down to all four wheels in a sport compact car does have its advantages. Not only does it provide an added level traction, but all-wheel drive helps send power where it’s needed and when it’s needed there. The system in the Focus RS, for example, can send as much as 70 percent of available torque to a single rear wheel if needed, the result of some fancy mechanical and electronic wizardry that is wise beyond its years.

However, adding all-wheel drive does have its fair share of drawbacks. Even the most advanced modern systems can’t avoid the extra weight that comes with adding the equipment necessary to send power to more wheels. Making matters worse, there’s the inevitable drivetrain power loss that results from powering four wheels as opposed to just two.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Honda Civic Type R Review

In that regard, the Civic Type R delivers a sharp counterpunch to its critics, as well as its chief competitors. If Nurburgring lap times mean anything anymore, it’s interesting to note that both the Focus RS and Golf R have been known to circle the track in more than eight minutes. By comparison, Honda published video proof of the 2017 Civic Type R completing its lap of the ‘Ring in a scant 7:43.80.

For the sake of comparison, the Type R houses a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder under its hood that makes 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The Focus RS, meanwhile, makes 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque from its 2.3-liter turbo motor, which is substantially more than the Honda. It also proves, if nothing else, that in the case of sport compacts like these it’s not about how much power is made — or the wheels it goes to.

“All-wheel drive would’ve added weight to the car, it would’ve changed the character of the car,” Keough said. “Honda’s racing philosophy has always been lightness and balanced performance, and the team felt like (it) could get the most performance out of this car without adding the weight and the cost of all-wheel drive.”

Mission accomplished.

  • Terry

    Sorry, sometimes tradition needs to be updated and a new tradition started. I have a 2007 SI and when the pavement is wet I can’t even use the vtec power because the wheels spin in low gear. I would love to have 4 wheel drive to get the power down. Please, Honda put 4 wheel drive on this car or you will loose in the showroom as well as the track.

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  • nr23

    They already beat their competitors by over 15sec on Nurburgring.

    The tradition of Type R is what they say it is, pushing performance for the platform, which is historically FWD. They even state that FWD has its advantages (lower weight, more power to the drivetrain).

    “I can’t use vtec power because the wheels spin in low gear” – what? do you even know what vtec is/does?

    You can’t drive manual too well if you are having trouble with the throttle and wheel spin in rainy conditions. More experience is needed on your end.

    If you want AWD there are many options. S4, STI, Evo, etc etc.

  • Cody Beisel

    Yeah I have to agree with nr23. Learn how to properly modulate your throttle and wheel spin goes away, poof!

  • Terry

    I do know how to do that and do. I just find it lame that I have to give up half of the available power and acceleration just because I only have front wheel drive. You can’t even start to use full throttle until 3rd gear.

  • Terry

    Triggered much snowflake?

  • Terry

    I guess that you drive like my dead grandmother. Putt, putt, putt. Yes I know what vtec is and how it works, I was referring to the power band that hits at 5k rpm.

  • VG

    Just like the wheel spin, the Focus RS and the VW, will also go away, poof! And you’ll eat their dust, poof!

  • Cody Beisel

    If it’s raining and if it’s snowing doesn’t matter if it’s fwd, rwd and awd your gonna spin. The difference I find is that with awd most get the impression they are invincible until they lose control. Awd helps to get off the line that’s just it.

  • Cody Beisel

    That’s why the type r is beating all those cars around the track right?? Poof!!!

  • Edmund Harmi Chen

    Tradition my ass so turboing the car is tradition, If I remembered right all type r were N/A!

  • VG

    In the rain?

  • Especially the modified ones, with or without turbo either way!

  • drex95

    If it isn’t already blindingly obvious, the discussion forums on this site are in desperate need of some moderation.

  • nr23

    No need to bring grandmothers into this. Learn to drive bro.

  • Brian Cordell

    I accept that the short answer is that Honda didn’t want to use AWD. My best guess is that their off the shelf AWD systems couldn’t handle the new motor and it didn’t make economic sense to make the investment for a low volume, performance product. As far as weight, Honda has built an AWD system that appears to weigh 115 lbs. Compare the 2WD and AWD 2017 CR-V weights to get that answer.

  • Terry

    I did 33 years ago. I regularly drive on there wheels. What about you? I was just hoping that Honda would finally take it to the next level. I guess not.

  • nr23

    Yea i drive on wheels too.

    Well there’s always the GT-R and NSX if you really want next level =)

  • Christopher Iden

    Got Milk ???

  • Mike Upadhyay Dhungana

    honda can never compete Subaru tech and fun.