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Forbidden fruit: Honda Civic Type-R gets turbocharged engine with 280 hp

Just prior to the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda teased enthusiasts worldwide with a prototype of the next Civic Type-R, featuring a new turbocharged engine.

The prototype is based on the Civic five-door hatchback sold abroad. Dressed in black, with widened fenders and a cartoonish rear spoiler, the Type-R has the poise of an X-Wing with S-foils locked in attack position. It’s the latest in a long line of hot Civics that have never been sold in the United States. Instead, we get the watered-down Si version.

As exciting as the exterior appears, the real action is under the hood. The latest Type-R features the new VTEC Turbo 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, part of Honda’s Earth Dreams line of fuel-efficient motors.

Earth Dreams is Honda’s answer to Ford’s EcoBoost and Mazda’s Skyactiv. Like its competitors, Honda is trying to extract the maximum amount of fuel efficiency from a given powertrain without resorting to hybridization.

That means making a move some Honda fans might find sacrilegious.

As the name suggests, the 2.0-liter engine is turbocharged. Honda has never been big on turbos, relying on its VTEC variable valve timing system to make power instead. Other than the City Turbo microcar and first-generation Acura RDX crossover, there haven’t been many turbocharged Hondas.

This one might win some converts, though. Honda says it produces over 280 horsepower.

The 2.0-liter VTEC Turbo will be one of three turbocharged Earth Dreams engines launching soon. A 1.0-liter three-cylinder, and 1.5-liter four-cylinder will follow the 2.0-liter to showrooms.

These engines have already been confirmed for Europe and Japan, but not the U.S. Hopefully Honda will take pity on American enthusiasts and send it over.

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