The next Civic Type R could be a hybrid

Two years ago, Honda’s European unit said it would electrify two thirds of its vehicle lineup by the year 2025. That goal has now been expanded to make every Honda vehicle sold on the continent to have at least some of their motive power provided by electrons by that date. That means that the next iteration of the Civic Type R, due in 2021, will likely be some kind of hybrid, according to Pistonheads.

Part of the hastened move towards electrification was prompted by an industry shift away from diesel power, as European concerns about particulate emissions from diesel engines have grown. Dave Hodgetts, head of Honda’s UK operations, told Autocar that the success of the recently launched hybrid version of the CR-V has likely sped up electrification plans. Two thirds of CR-V sold in the UK used to be diesels, but now 60 percent are hybrids.

Another factor in Honda’s accelerated plans is the positive reaction to the fully electric E Prototype and earlier Urban EV concepts. A full battery-electric Civic Type R, however, doesn’t exactly fit the brand image of that car, established at least in part by high-revving VTEC combustion engines.

2019 Honda Civic Type-R front 3/4

Kohei Hitomi, who led the development of the close-to-production E Prototype, told Pistonheads, “We think it’d be quite easy to achieve Type R performance with a full EV right now, but Type R isn’t just about performance. It’s also about handling, operation and driveability. We don’t think it’s as simple as replacing that with electric power. That’s not the right direction for Type R.”

Hitomi said Honda sees electricity as an enhancement of the Type R recipe, not a replacement, as with the use of forced induction on the current model. “People complained when we said the Type R would use a turbocharger, but now they appreciate the new possibilities this has provided. I believe it would be the same for electrified vehicles as well; people who love Type R will come to realise what it can add to the driving experience. We just need to find the best attributes that are relevant for the Type R, so as to enhance the experience without losing what makes a Type R.”

Depending on what kind of hybrid system they use, the next Civic Type R could have torque vectoring or other performance features that electric motors make easier. The performance level of the current Acura NSX, a hybrid, should reassure fans of Honda hot hatches that the company knows how to combine electrification with excitement.

2019 Honda Civic Type-R rear 3/4
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