The Honda Civic Type R gets performance and visual upgrades in 2020 refresh

The mid-life refresh of the Honda Civic Type R has been unveiled in its entirety at the Chicago Auto Show today, revealing a number of subtle visual and performance-orientated upgrades that are coming to the 2020 model. Autoblog was lucky enough to talk to Honda spokesperson Davis Adams to get the lowdown on where the changes came from.

With the number one complaint of the original car being its fake air intakes, it’s no surprise that this is where he started. “Every car gets a mid-cycle halfway in, and also, if anything has been one of our design complaints, it’s been the mesh, the fake grille. It’s just changed,” Adams tells Autoblog.

Where the fake mesh vents one sat, solid black plastic inserts now flank a newly opened up grille. This has enhanced the cooling of the engine bay which according to Adams has made a huge difference on the track when the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is running at high temperatures and under strain.

“More significant than that, there’s more airflow into the front of the car, which is important, because early Type Rs were having overheating challenges in some cases with super high-performance track driving, they were getting too hot too early, so this mitigates it,” he says. Most of the changes happen beneath the bodywork, however. “The suspension is firmer in its most aggressive modes for aggressive driving in +R, and then it’s also more compliant when you put it in Comfort.”

While Honda isn’t letting slip much about its new damping technology, the bushings have been upgraded, as have the sway bars and the suspension has been tweaked to extract even more performance from the track-ready hot hatch. The drilled brake rotors have been replaced with two-piece un-drilled rotors, and new brake pads have been formulated to improve high-speed braking performance. Will you feel the difference? Probably not, but it’s nice to know Honda is still improving the car despite its undeniable popularity – 10,000 current-gen Type Rs have been sold so far.

“Honda hasn’t changed a ton, because it remains sold out,” Davis says. “Three years in, there’s still a waitlist for them. Dealers are still transacting at or above MSRP. So there’s been no real need to shake up the formula too much yet because it hasn’t fatigued in the marketplace. So it’s getting finessed now.”

The last thing to be discussed was the “Active Sound Control” feature. This type of technology is often dismissed by enthusiasts as unnecessary and a form of cheating, but Davis is adamant that it’s only sound piping. “It’s piping into the speakers. It’s the same kind of system as in the 2020 Si,” Davis says. “It sounds bassy and rumbly. It’s all emulated.”

Hopefully there’s a fuse that can be pulled to turn that off, but despite this, the updated Type R sounds like a winner. More details will be coming soon as it gets closer to its market release including its price tag, which I expect to grow minutely.

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