THE Honda Civic Type R could slip in at less than $50,000 when it arrives in Australia late this year, taking the fight to the likes of the Ford Focus RS and the Volkswagen Golf R.
The hot hatch was officially revealed in Australia today by Honda-McLaren F1 pilot Stoffel Vandoorne ahead of this weekend’s season opener, the Australian Grand Prix. It’s the first time the Type R has been seen in open daylight after its reveal at this month’s Geneva Motor Show.
The big news, though, is that instead of waiting until next year for the 235kW/400Nm turbo 2.0-litre to arrive, it will slip in just before Christmas, and be priced to sell.
“With Civic Type R, we’re trying to make it very competitive in that hot hatch segment, and honestly it needs to be around the $50K mark,” Honda Australia director Stephen Collins told Wheels. “Hopefully it’s starting with a ‘4’, but that’s yet to be determined.”
However, while a sub-$50,000 price tag will help the front-drive, six-speed manual Type R against its slightly more expensive, $50K-plus all-wheel-drive Ford and VW rivals, Collins has warned that supply of the Civic Type R may be tight to start with.
“They [supplies] will be tight,” he said. “It’s quite a select sort of market, so we’re still yet to land on a figure. So I do think it will be tight supply.
“We also want it to be a model that you see on the road, so I think we’re wanting pretty good numbers.”
The previous-generation Civic Type R won over about 2000 buyers over its four-year run to 2011.
Collins said Honda Australia would take a single version of the Type R. “We wanted it to be the full package, and we think that we’re basically going to bring the one spec, the top spec, with the top performance.”
A version of the Type R sold in Europe comes with an extra GT badge for some markets, denoting a more richly equipped version of the five-door hatch.
If that translates directly, that means Aussie-delivered cars are likely to come equipped with sat-nav, eight-speaker audio, dual-zone climate control, alloy pedals, front and rear parking sensors hooked up to a reversing camera, red ambient interior lighting and safety add-ons including blind spot and front collision warning, and even the ability to recognise traffic signs.
But passenger cars are slowly losing favour with buyers – last month, sales of the high-riding hatches and wagons outstripped those for traditional passenger cars. So what does Honda make of the success of SUVs in Australia and the likelihood of the red Honda badge appearing on a vehicle in one of the fastest growing new car segments any time soon.
“If something was to become available, I’ve said before many times whatever we can do in terms of more sportiness in our range we will try and do that,” Collins said. “But there’s currently no plan to do that.
“[There’s been no talks with Honda] about Type R SUVs. There have been some discussions about dialling up the sportiness of the brand; that’s the main discussion we have with the factory,” he said.