Interview

Honda Is Considering A CVT For The Civic Type R: Say It Ain't So!

A Type R with a CVT wouldn't be the worst thing in the world...right?

When we spoke with Honda North America at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show the question of offering the Civic Type R with a CVT came up. Said question was quickly laughed off by all the execs and PR people in the room. Maybe they were being coy, or maybe they weren’t given the whole story by the folks over in Japan. CivicX forum user Browncoat3000 shared a story from the November 2016 print edition of CAR Magazine in which a trio of Honda head honchos are interviewed and a CVT for the Type R is said to be a possibility.

These comments likely came from either head engineer Mitsuru Kariya or Katsushi Inoue, head of Honda Europe. There’s an off chance they came from lead designer Daisuke Tsutamori but we doubt it. Apparently the CVT offered in the Type R would be optimized for low-end acceleration. We don’t have more details as the story isn’t available on CAR Magazine’s website and we don’t have a copy of the magazine in the office. What we do know is that, while upsetting to purists, this move would make sense from a business standpoint. During our chat with Honda we learned that the take rate for manuals was an abysmal 3%. The Type R is not designed for everyone but it will be even more restrictive if it only comes with a manual.

Now a CVT in the Type R may not totally torpedo the driving experience. We test drove a Civic sedan with a turbocharged engine and a CVT and didn’t totally hate the experience. A compelling case can certainly be made for offering the Type R with more than just a manual. However, an equally compelling case can be made for why a CVT makes no sense in such a car. First of all, the Type R is supposed to be a halo model. As such sales goals won’t be through the roof. Why make a concession to the business side of things then? If the goal is to build too few then why make the Type R more appealing to the mass market? Also, if the Si is offered as a manual only what does that say about the model above it?

At this point the CVT probably has a 25% chance of making it to the Type R. We'll follow up with Honda and will relay any new info learned. In the meantime let us know how likely you think it is that Honda will put a CVT into the next Civic Type R.

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