Honda VTEC Turbo four-cylinder engine confirmed for the U.S.

Amid a flurry of announcements at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, Honda gave enthusiasts a bit of good news.

The Japanese carmaker said it will offer a new VTEC Turbo four-cylinder engine in the U.S., confirming previous reports and creating interesting possibilities for the future of Honda performance here.

The VTEC Turbo is part of Honda’s Earth Dreams line of efficient powertrains, but there should be plenty of go-fast potential as well.

Honda declined to discuss specs, but the company’s new Civic Type-R also uses a turbocharged four-cylinder, producing around 280 horsepower.

Like every other Civic Type-R, this one won’t be sold in the U.S. But it doesn’t take much imagination to picture a version of the VTEC Turbo engine powering another hot Civic in the States.

Honda may need such a model to stay competitive in the hot hatchback (and coupe, and sedan) segment.

The current Civic Si seems trapped in the early 2000s. Its 2.4-liter four-banger produces a respectable 205 hp, but it’s outgunned by the 252-hp Ford Focus ST and 268-hp Subaru WRX, while the Volkswagen Golf GTI beats it in refinement.

Alternatively, the turbo-four could be used to boost fuel efficiency in Honda’s mainstream models by taking the place of naturally-aspirated V6s. That strategy has worked pretty well for carmakers like Ford and Hyundai.

It’s also possible that Honda’s upscale Acura brand will make use of the new engine. ILX Type-R, anyone?

Multiple variations of the design are possible, but whether it’s one engine or many, VTEC Turbo assembly will take place at Honda’s plant in Anna, Ohio.

We’ll find out Honda’s plans later this year, when the first VTEC Turbo-powered models go into production.

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