Hot hatch enthusiasts are celebrating the fact Honda has stuck with the traditional manual gearbox for the new Civic Type R hot hatch – but it's now emerged the firm did still consider building an automatic alternative. It even begun initial engineering investigations... but ultimately curtailed the project in favour of just the manual.
What made up Honda's mind? The fact a heavy automatic gearbox would have spoiled the weight distribution of the hot Civic, thus spoiling its handling. And it's the fact the potent VTEC turbo engine possesses such firepower that would have led to such a substantial impact on weight, Civic Type R assistant large project leader Yuji Matsumochi told CarAdvice.
"The Type R needs a lightweight powertrain because it is front-wheel drive... the engine is a little bit heavy, so the transmission side needs to be more lightweight. If we applied an automatic transmission, or dual-clutch transmission, for a 295lb-ft (pulling power output) engine, it would be very heavy weight, and very big. The front weight would be very heavy."
The hot Civic is already a little unbalanced in terms of weight distribution due to its front-wheel drive layout: 62.5 percent of the weight sits over the front wheels, although this is improved over the old car, which was 65 percent forward-biased. Adding an automatic would have altered this balance significantly, which is why Honda eschewed it.
The decision to can the automatic is also why Honda introduced a rev-matching function on the Type R – to make it a little easier to drive on track. "Sometimes it's difficult to control shift timing for sporty performance, so... we applied the rev-match system. It's so easy and so smooth - so everyone has a special experience to drive the car."