The Honda Civic Type-R is one of the most popular and powerful hatchbacks in history. While we may all be familiar with the modern FK8 model, this was only made possible by the legend that it was the first EK9 version of the Type-R.
The EK9 Honda Civic Type-R came with a compact 1.6-liter engine, 5-speed manual transmission, and Recaro bucket seats. This emphasized its purpose as the ultimate performance hatchback on the market. While you may recognize it immediately when you see it, here are 10 things gearheads should know about the EK9 Honda Civic Type-R:
10 The First Type-R
Launched back in 1997, the EK9 was the first-ever Honda Civic Type-R. While this car has had a huge resurgence in the last decade, it was this model that set the tone for the Japanese automaker in this particular market segment.
While the modern Type-R is an all-out performance sports car, the original model was more designed for local car enthusiasts. This car was embraced by gearheads around the world as a street icon and an amazing project car.
9 Iconic Hot Hatch
The EK9 was one of the instrumental cars of the hot hatch segment of the compact car market in the 90s and early 2000s. While many may think of the VW Golf as the ultimate hot hatch, the EK9 was right alongside it as some of the most popular and affordable options on the market.
The EK9 was aimed at being a sporty car rather than a super-practical, daily driver. This was a unique selling point of the car and allowed it to do well in the Japanese market.
8 B16B Engine
The EK9 model was fitted with a 1.6-liter, B16B 14 engine from Honda. This engine managed to produce over 182 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque at 7,500 rpm. While this may not sound impressive by today’s standards, the EK9 was fitted with an engine that had one of the highest power outputs per liter at the time.
The naturally aspirated engine formed the basis for many of Honda’s performance engines and took inspiration from Honda’s racing heritage. The engine was relatively the same throughout the years, but was tuned for the N1 Racing Version of the EK9.
7 5-Speed Manual Transmission
The EK9 was designed with car lovers in mind. This is also why many gearheads today still seek out these models due to their design, heritage, and manual gearbox. While many may scoff at having to change gears yourself, there is something magical about it that you just can’t explain.
The EK9 featured Honda’s 5-speed manual transmission. This was a smooth system that did not have any major issues over the years. This makes it a solid car to purchase second-hand as a project or development car.
6 Impressive Straight-Line Speed
The Civic Type-R was an impressive and aggressive hatchback. Although its aggression was not so clear in its looks, on the road, it was an absolute beast. The EK9 model was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 6.7 seconds.
In addition to this, it was able to complete a quarter-mile with a time of only 15.3 seconds. While this isn’t exactly a Tesla, these numbers are incredibly impressive if you consider the kind of car this was and the time it was released.
5 Type Rx
Honda quickly adapted to the success of the Type-R and started working on an upgraded version of the car. This model, named the Type Rx, was based on the EK9 and would include a number of improvements over the standard model.
This included a slightly tuned engine, remote central locking, a CD player, air conditioning, and aluminum pedals. This was not seen as a performance model as much as it was seen as a more luxurious model of the car that included new technologies at the time.
4 N1 Racing Version
Despite the mediocre reception of the Rx model, Honda did not give up on its pursuit to create a more dynamic and powerful version of the Type-R. This is when they decided to boost the powertrain and modify the engine to create an N1 Racing Version of the hatchback.
This version saw the red line extended to 11,000 rpm for more power at the top end. However, the changes were primarily cosmetic, as the car delivered similar performance figures to the EK9 standard. This differs from the special-edition hatchbacks of today, such as the Mini JCW GP.
3 Relatively Rare Hatchback
When you think about rare vehicles, two things come to mind. The first being a super-luxury model that is not produced in high volumes, and the second being an impressive and unique car that nobody wants to ever sell.
The EK9 Civic Type-R fits right between those two, as it wasn’t produced in high numbers, but nobody that owns one wants to let it go either. Only 16,241 units of the EK9 model were ever produced, leaving gearheads around the world scrambling to find one in good condition.
2 A Customizable Classic
The EK9 Honda Civic had the style and look of a sporty, compact hatch from the start. However, car lovers around the world flocked to this model due to the variety of customizable components and third-party body kits that were made available for it.
While many of these were not officially commissioned by Honda, third-party manufacturers created external body kits, engine packs, and modified exhaust systems for the car. This cemented the EK9 in the history books as one of the most street-worthy hatchbacks of all time.
1 A Street Legend
The history of the Civic Type-R is not as great as many may think. While the first EK9 model was exceptionally sporty, the second and third generations of the car lacked the performance and styling to be taken seriously as a hot hatch.
The second generation of the car was fitted with a more powerful engine, but it lacked the interior and exterior styling that the EK9 had. This saw the demand for the EK9 model rise, even though the new model promised better performance.
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