The second generation Honda Civic Type-R is built at Honda’s Swindon factory in the United Kingdom, and exported to other countries, including Japan. It is the same factory that builds the Civic Si.
The front-wheel-drive Type-R Civic only comes in three-door hatchback form, same as the Si, but the Type-R has stiffer body with front and rear bracing struts, and comes standard with a complete "ground effects" kit, rear spoiler, mesh grille, lower suspension and 17 inch wheels. The interior is fitted with Alcantara-trimmed sports seats, a metallic-trim center console and a rally-style six-speed manual shifter. Luxuries are kept at a minimum, with only power windows, remote power door locks and a CD player. No GPS navigation, no heated seats and no other such niceties are offered, not even as options.
The Type-R is powered by the new i-VTEC 4 cylinder engine, similar to the 200 hp Acura RSX Type-S engine, but different from the 160 hp Civic Si powerplant. The i-VTEC unit provides for smoother power delivery, unlike older VTEC engines which gave a sudden boost at a certain rpm. Like all Honda engines, the Type-R’s 197 hp engine provides most of its power in the higher rev range and is characteristically short on torque, with a peak torque figure of only 145 lb-ft, with barely anything available in the lower rev range. The six-speed close-ratio gearbox handles the power delivery. The car is built on a modified version of the current four-door Civic, meaning MacPherson strut suspension up front and double wishbones at the rear. The change from four-wheel double wishbones has noticeably hurt the handling dynamics of the Civic sedan, but it is less apparent in the highly-tuned Type-R. Large four-wheel disc brakes, vented at the front, offer decent braking performance, with ABS and EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) being standard features. The 17 inch alloy wheels are wrapped with ultra low profile 205/45R17 tyres.
The Civic Type-R has been on sale in Europe, Japan and some Middle Eastern countries for more than a year now. Rumor has it that the car will be offered in the Fall of 2003 as a 2004 model, although American Honda has been tight-lipped about any such plans.