Civic Type R is slow to sell, save Honda

The soil and water support the people, and the same goes for cars.

Ferrari and Alfa Romeo are full of strong romantic feelings; Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin are still British at heart; German pragmatism is also reflected under the no-frills hood of Porsche. reflect.

Friends who have watched "Wangan MIDNIGHT" and "Initial D" may know that the Japanese also have their own pursuit of driving.

In the 1980s, Japan's economy ushered in rapid development, and local young people had more consumer demands, and playing cars was naturally one of them. Japanese performance cars have ushered in a golden age at this time. Japanese brands such as Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and Nissan have all stirred up Sir Tan's nerves in the day and night of Tokyo.

Unfortunately, the good times did not last long. In the 1990s, the bubble burst and the Japanese economy declined. Those Japanese performance cars that have just reached their peak have either been discontinued or discontinued.

There are exceptions to this.

The Civic Type R is as special as those exotic sports cars, with a history, a racing spirit and Honda's great engineering legacy. But now there is part of it, gathering dust and rust in the parking lot.

On the 18th of this month, news broke that Dongfeng Honda's third factory in Wuhan had parked a lot of new Civic Type R that were "unsold." The car will be launched in China in December 2022, priced at 420,000 yuan. It is Dongfeng Honda who introduced it to the domestic market.

At that time, domestic car fans had a mixed love-hate relationship with Dongfeng Honda. Dongfeng Honda gave us the opportunity to realize our dream, but this dream still seemed a bit unrealistic. The bare car price of 420,000 yuan discouraged many people, and they finally chose Audi S3, Golf GTI, and even the red-labeled Civic hatchback…

Type R can only serve as a spiritual totem and participate in their lives.

Motorsports is Honda’s foundation

To talk about Type R, we have to start with Soichiro Honda. He was born in a small village in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. He began to help his blacksmith father repair bicycles at an early age and developed a strong interest in machinery.

In 1937, 31-year-old Soichiro Honda established his own company, Tokai Seiki Industry Co., Ltd., to produce piston rings for automobile engines.

He was trying to secure a long-term order from a new automaker, which turned out to be Toyota. However, because Tokai Seiki's quality control failed to meet Toyota's standards at that time, Soichiro lost this cooperation opportunity.

After several years of study and experience accumulation, in 1941, Tokai Seiki was finally able to produce piston rings that met Toyota's requirements. The company gradually got on the right track and accepted Toyota's capital injection in 1942. Everything was developing in a good direction. .

But the good times didn't last long. In 1945, an earthquake destroyed Tokai Seiki's newly built Hamamatsu factory. Production came to a standstill and the company faced bankruptcy. Soichiro Honda decided to transfer his shares to Toyota for 450,000 yen, then established the "Honda Technology Research Institute" and began to think about his own motorcycle.

Former Toyota Motor President Ishida Teizo recalled many years later:

That gentleman (Honda Soichiro) really impressed me. He never considered the pros and cons of buying and selling, he only knew about innovation and invention. Even if we advised him to slow down the matter (buying Tokai Seiki), he just said "I know, I know," but he never stopped inventing.

Yes, Soichiro Honda was particularly good at inventions. Just one year later, Honda Giken's first motorcycle Model D with a complete frame was born. This "D" stands for Dream.

This is where the Honda dream begins.

Honda Model D, picture from: Wikipedia

In just a few years, Honda has captured 15% of the Japanese motorcycle market, but Soichiro Honda was not satisfied with commercial success. He handed over a participation notice and pushed Honda motorcycles into racing.

Honda’s external competition announcement in 1954

In the following years, Honda struggled in large and small events. Finally in 1959, Honda decided to participate in the most dangerous motorcycle race in the world – the Isle of Man TT, and won the 125cc category. Achieved 6th place result.

What’s even more amazing is that it only took Honda two years from its first entry to dominating the field. In 1961, Honda took the top five places in both the 125cc and 250cc classes of the Isle of Man TT. In the same year, Honda also participated in the World Motorcycle Championship and achieved 8 wins in 11 races.

Regarding Honda’s performance on the field at that time, the British Mirror commented:

Honda racers run like clockwork, and this is not something you can do simply by imitating others.

In 1961, Honda driver Kunimitsu Takahashi drove a Honda RC162 racing car. Picture from: Honda

In the same year, Soichiro, who had tasted victory for the first time, decided to extend his dream to the four-wheel track. At the age of 55, he announced his entry into the F1 World Formula One Championship and faced many European powers.

After three years of research and development, Honda built their first F1 racing car, the RA270, in 1964 and officially competed as a manufacturer.

Souichiro Honda and RA270 racing car

Although it failed to finish the three races in the first year, just one year later, Honda's RA272 car successfully won the Mexican Grand Prix. The slightly yellowish white paint on the car was also given a New name – Champion White.

This historically significant paint color is retained in every generation of Civic Type R.

The RA272 racing car in Romance Road 7

The pursuit of technology has made Civic Type R possible

In December 1970, the U.S. government enacted the most stringent Clean Air Act at the time, which stumped many car companies. At this time, Honda launched a "CVCC compound vortex controlled combustion engine."

Honda B3-BH928 engine equipped with CVCC technology, picture from: WSJ

With this engine, Honda launched the first car that complies with the new environmental regulations, which caused a sensation in the industry. Its name is Honda Civic.

Yes, the Civic was born to be an extraordinary car. With monthly sales of more than 10,000, it quickly put Honda into the first echelon of car manufacturers.

Honda’s first generation Civic

The success of the Civic is inseparable from Honda's pursuit of technology, and the same is true for the Civic Type R.

In 1997, the first-generation Civic Type R (EK9) was born. In order to adapt to higher speeds and improve speed response, the B16B engine it was equipped with adopted a common design for racing engines-longer piston connecting rods and a longer crank. Short crankshaft, and forged pistons.

Finally, this 1.6L naturally aspirated engine with a maximum speed of 9000rpm can output up to 185 horsepower and provide 165Nm of torque at 7500rpm.

Honda B16B engine, picture from: AutoEvolution

In order to achieve ultimate lightweighting, Honda used "welded seam frame chassis" technology for the first time to improve the strength of the chassis, and combined with other weight reduction measures, the weight of the vehicle was controlled at 1070kg.

In terms of transmission, the EK9 is not only equipped with a limited-slip differential as standard, but also uses a dual synchronizer design for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears, making the transmission more delicate and stable. With the final transmission ratio of 4.4:1 and the high-revving characteristics of the B16B, the EK9 can run to 105km/h in second gear and break through 200km/h in fourth gear.

The first generation Civic Type R (EK9), picture from: Automachi

Honda's pursuit of technology is also reflected in the third-generation Civic Type R (FD2).

The body of FD2 uses a large amount of aluminum alloy materials and adhesives instead of welding, and the vehicle weighs only 1270kg. This is a common method for reducing weight in new energy vehicles today, but don’t forget, this was 2006. At the same time, FD2 is also equipped with LSD, Brembo's front four-piston calipers, and front and rear double wishbone independent suspension.

Civic Type R (FD2), picture from: Automachi

The strong comprehensive strength makes FD2 the pinnacle of the Civic Type R in the naturally aspirated era.

Entering the turbine era, the FK8's extremely fast turbine response and exhaust sound still represented the top level at the time. Although Honda was not the first car company to adopt turbocharged four-cylinder engines, it was undoubtedly the manufacturer that best understood the products of this new era at the time.

In this modern Type R model, Honda has placed more emphasis on the connection between people and the car. The steering wheel in front of the driver is one of the important communication bridges.

▲Civic Type R (FK8) steering wheel

At the beginning of the development of FK8, Honda's team of engineers, with the help of the design department, created a new steering wheel. The innovation lies in the grip shape of the steering wheel. When the driver holds the steering wheel, even his little finger can have a firm grip.

Honda steering system engineer Norimasa Arai also shared this small detail in a previous interview:

Drivers typically wear gloves when driving on track, making it much easier to hold the wheel than without gloves, but at the same time, the driver will feel less feedback than usual. To solve this problem, Type R (FK8) has carefully fine-tuned the steering wheel damping in different modes to provide more exciting control.

Letting more people drive performance cars is the mission of Civic Type R

For the Civic Type R, Honda once put forward one of the most core requirements: driving the car will make you smile.

Today, a large part of the driving pleasure of the Civic Type R comes from its manual transmission, which provides the driver with an absolute sense of control compared to any form of automatic transmission.

▲Civic Type R (FL5) interior

"Our goal is to develop a manual transmission that anyone can operate easily." Honda transmission performance engineer Akira Nakamura said that generally speaking, manual transmission models are more difficult to drive, and the driver has to step on the clutch and shift gears. , and at the same time control the engine speed——

For experienced drivers, this can be a pleasure, but for newbies, it can make the car difficult to drive.

Controlling the engine speed is the key to smooth gear shifting, which is especially important on the track. If you do not do this, the car will easily lose grip due to the sudden shift of the center of gravity when entering or exiting a corner.

To solve this problem, Nakamura's team developed a smart automatic refueling system. When the driver performs a gear shift, the system automatically controls the engine speed to achieve fast and smooth gear switching.

▲Civic Type R (FK8), picture from: Aston Parrott

To imbue the person behind the wheel with a strong desire to drive, it shouldn't be a difficult vehicle to drive. From this perspective, the Civic Type R is not only Civic's flagship model, but also a symbol of Honda's coveted car.

The "approachability" of the Civic Type R was once reflected in its price.

The first Type R model in history was born in 1992. At that time, Honda, which had the world's top high-performance engine manufacturing technology, finally couldn't bear it anymore and launched the NSX Type R based on its own supercar NSX. It was expensive and rare in quantity.

NSX Type R

In order to make the word "performance" no longer condescending, three years after the debut of the NSX Type R, the Integra Type R was released, followed by the more affordable Civic Type R.

But starting from FK8, the Civic Type R seems to have changed its direction. It's faster, becoming the fastest front-wheel drive car at the Nürburgring; it's more luxurious, with carbon fiber trim, but it's also no longer user-friendly.

▲Civic Type R (FL5)

In this era of all-out electrification, it seems understandable that the spiritual totem in a performance car should be sold at a higher price. Just like vinyl records, with the prevalence of digital music today, its status and value have also been redefined.

Electrification will undoubtedly change the connotation of the word "performance", but it will be difficult to replace the cultural symbols carried by certain models, so there should be a group of "fanatics" willing to pay for that unique experience.

But in that case, is it still a Civic Type-R?

Anyone with wheels is interested and welcome to communicate. Email: [email protected]

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