The stage is set for the inexorable face-off between two of Japan’s finest car makers. Battle lines have been drawn, in fact, with Honda Car’s Philippines Inc (HCPI) opting to finally bring in limited quantities of the Civic Type R, ending two decades of waiting in the wings for local car enthusiasts and collectors.
Not to be outclassed, Subaru via Motor Image PH is fielding its refreshed version of the Impreza WRX STi in its rarefied local stable.
Honda’s launch of the first ever Type R variant to be sold locally coincides with the Type R’s 25th year of exciting the global audience with its raw power and innovative design features. “Honda’s Type R models have always represented the purity of the original concept of minimizing weight while maximizing power, responsiveness, dynamic stability and braking performance, which aims to deliver the most rewarding driving experience, both on the road and on the race track,” says Spencer Kuan, Product Development of HCPI.
Raining on Honda’s parade is its rival, Motor Image Ph. Three years since the introduction of the fourth generation WRX STi, the 2018 version boasts minor updates, highlighted by the new front fascia, upgraded suspension system, new 19-inch wheels on STIs, improved Brembo brakes, and a new performance package for the WRX. ”One of the competencies of the WRX STI will always be that 300hp Turbo Engine delivering power to all four wheels of the car with the Symmetrical All Wheel Drive System, which is a core technology of Subaru. This enables the driver to drive with more confidence with assurance that the car has maximum grip on the track. It will be exciting to see these two icons go at each other on track,” says Uzzi Ascuncion, Marketing Specialist of Motor Image PH.
As these two titans of speed jockey for position, it may worth prying into the features of both cars to see which among the two will appeal to the local market. For starters, the Civic Type R has been engineered from the ground up and this Fifth generation variant sits on a global platform and brings to the fight a potent 2.0-liter VTEC TURBO engine with a maximum power output of 310 PS at 6,500rpm, and peak torque of 400 Nm from 2,500rpm to 4,500rpm. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission that is further enhanced by a rev match control system which enables the car to sustain maximum power during gearshifts. The rev-matching function can be switched on or off in the user settings for the car, regardless of which driving mode is selected.
All of the power is transmitted to its front wheels through an exceptionally responsive helical limited-slip differential (LSD) that provide the Type R’s with strong cornering traction.
The WRX STI keeps its turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four that makes 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard; a CVT version is optional according to Motor Image Ph.
The All-New Civic Type R features a bespoke chassis, suspension, and steering setup for a more responsive handling as well as improved high-speed stability. Up front, the Type R sports a lower-arm-type front MacPherson strut suspension that minimizes torque steer and maximizes handling. While at the rear, a multi-link suspension setup helps the All-New Civic Type R improve its stability when braking as well as reducing the vehicle’s body roll movement when cornering. It also features a revised four-wheel Adaptive Damper System that delivers superior ride quality and exceptional road performance.
Subaru’s WRX STi has a re-tuned suspension and its electrically assisted power steering has been revised. The STI’s Driver’s Control Center Differential (DCCD), the heart of its all-wheel-drive system, switches to a purely electronically controlled limited-slip diff, which Subaru claims to be smoother and is quick to respond. The brakes on the STI also have been upgraded. The yellow-painted Brembo monoblock calipers have six pistons in the front and two in the rear. Larger-diameter rotors are cross-drilled for better heat management, and new pads cover more surface area for better fade resistance. The STI rolls on 19-inch Y-spoke aluminum wheels wrapped in 245/35R-19 tires.
To harness all that VTEC power, Honda has the Type R equipped with front brakes ventilated and cross-drilled 350mm disc punctuated by a 4-piston caliper Brembo brake package. In other words, this Honda rocket stops at the driver’s beck and call.
While the Impreza WRX STi boasts minor changes such as new grille designs, larger air intakes, and wider mouths, with a redesigned LED headlight cluster that swivel in turns, the Type R has an aggressive front grille, a wing type spoiler, and Vortex generators at the trailing edge of the roof line. The front and rear bumpers and side skirts also sport a carbon fiber effect and sporty red accent line, which runs around the entire vehicle.
The sharp and aggressive front grille is an interpretation of Honda’s family ‘face’, incorporating the signature Honda front full LED headlights with auto leveling and auto on/off that complements each distinctive feature. The Type R is also equipped with a new lightweight aluminum hood with hood scoop to provide higher air intake to the turbo. And to keep the All-New Civic Type R’s massive airflow, three fully-functional tailpipes are positioned at the rear lower center of the car. Main tailpipes on either side deliver exhaust from the engine, while a unique, smaller center tailpipe controls the sonic tone of the engine. Similar to previous Civic Type R models, it is adorned with Honda’s famous red ‘H’ badge. Filling the enlarged wheel arches are 20-inch Berlina Black alloy wheels with 245/30 R20 tires.
As of press time, Subaru has not yet revealed the retail price of its prized fighter. For Honda on the other hand, 80 blokes with P2,980,000 of chunk change will have their Civic Type R’s delivered to them starting this September with two color hues to choose from: the Championship White and Rallye Red.
As the market awaits the arrival of these street brawlers from Japan, the question now is, will the market choose VTEC Power over the revered Boxer engine? We’ll see by the last quarter of this year.