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With the Civic Type R, Honda officially reclaims its mojo

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With the Civic Type R, Honda officially reclaims its mojo
Honda returns to its sporting roots in the new Civic Type R.

In the 1990s, when a dude wanted to impress both girls and other guys, he’d get a Honda Civic. The Toyota Corolla was the best-selling compact sedan then, but the Civic had the cool factor. It was the one to have if you wanted to turn heads. And it wasn’t all hype: The Civic engines, particularly the VTEC ones, easily trumped those found under the hood of the competition.

The Civic would eventually be outsold by its smaller sibling, the City, but before surrendering its status in Honda’s product hierarchy, it gave us one of the most exciting models to ever grace our market. In 1998, Honda Cars Philippines released the 161hp Civic SiR, turning casual fanboys into racing wannabes. To this day, you can still see several units running around, lovingly maintained by either their original owners or subsequent custodians. Perhaps these people are holding on to their cars because — let’s face it — the SiR, based on the sixth-generation platform, was the last great Civic to emerge from the Honda stable. The hideously bland seventh iteration completely ruined the Civic’s image in the eyes of even the most ardent loyalists, and the succeeding ones, while admittedly better-looking, didn’t exactly spark a revival.

But here at last is the Civic’s much-awaited comeback, courtesy of the world-conquering Type R based on the 10th generation, five-door hatchback. Previously available only in Japan and some parts of Europe, the Civic Type R is now making its way into global showrooms, thanks largely to Honda’s shift to a common platform for the Civic’s latest version. Because of this move to a unified mechanical template, even the United States is receiving the Type R for the first time in the model’s history.

In March this year, when Honda unveiled the Civic Type R at the Manila International Auto Show, visitors flocked to it like the returning hero that it was. This car was the one bright spot in an event that generally underwhelmed with its paper-thin exhibit. To the MIAS organizers’ relief, the Type R’s star power was there to save the day, teasing everyone with spine-tingling possibilities. Was the Japanese automaker bringing it in? If yes, could we afford it?

On July 10, after being pummeled with inquiries and demands, Honda made the announcement we were all dying to hear: The Civic Type R is finally coming to the Philippines. It has been quite a wait for Filipino car enthusiasts, but no one is complaining. We had been clamoring for a left-hand-drive version ever since the first Type R (this new one is already the fifth) was introduced exclusively to the Japan market as a three-door hatchback in 1997. Twenty years later and we got our wish.

Needless to say, the Type R is a special car. Past the menacing carbon-like body kit of the exterior, the specs make it so: 306hp at 6,500rpm; 400Nm at 2,500-4,500rpm; six forward gears and automatic rev-matching for the manual transmission; 1,996cc of fuel displacement for the VTEC turbo gasoline engine; dual-pinion and variable-ratio power-assisted steering; helical limited-slip differential; 350-millimeter brake discs with four-piston calipers from Brembo; vehicle stability assist; anti-roll bars and adaptive dampers; 20-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in 245/30 rubber; aluminum hood; triple tailpipes; bucket seats; seven-inch TFT instrument cluster; titanium shift knob; red-and-black suede-like fabric trim for the interior; and exclusive serial number plate. Honda has packed this car with all the best bits from its arsenal, and it comes at a price. A unit costs P2.98 million, an amount that understandably forced Honda to conservatively allot just 100 units to our market.

But then every single one of this initial batch has already been reserved, according to Lyka Mae dela Cruz of Honda Cars Philippines’ marketing department. Which means that the units being made available for viewing at select dealerships beginning this week, are technically just for display. So if you have not reserved a unit and wish to own one, you will have to join another petition campaign to coax Honda into ordering another shipment.

Until then, you will have to content yourself with sightings of Championship White and Rallye Red (yes, even the color names are badass) Type Rs on EDSA. The good news is that you can stare at them as long as you like because of the traffic-imposed 3 kph speed limit. The even-better news is that Honda has its balls back.

Track day, guys?

 

You may e-mail the author at vbsarne@visor.ph.

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