The Honda Civic Type-R is a bit of a performance hot hatch legend. Since the first UK model was launched back in 2001, the revvy VTEC engines, excellent handling and first-rate build quality captured the imagination of many enthusiasts. The Japanese manufacturer, with a reputation for its excellent naturally aspirated performance car engines, pulled the plug in on the Type-R in 2010 – due to growing difficulty with emissions legislation. A new car was announced at the tail end of 2012.
So what do we know so far? When Honda announced that it would be bringing back the Civic Type-R, the company made the call that it would have to make the switch to a turbocharged engine in order to catch up to the competition. A 1.6-litre powerplant, closely related to the WTCC engine was originally talked about, but Honda has now announced that it is developing a standalone 2.0 direct injection turbo engine, that will produce 'at least 276bhp', so expect around 300bhp.
The car is already under development at the Nurburgring, in order to meet the company’s target of being the fastest front-drive car to lap the infamous circuit. Honda's WTCC driver Gabriele Tarquini has also been involved in the development work. Speaking at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show, Honda Europe President Manabu Nishimae confirmed: 'We have recently spent a week at the Nurburgring, carrying out extensive testing and we are on target, and have already set a time approaching the lap record.'
Although based on the standard Civic, the chassis will be modified to handle the extra power. There’s the possibility of a rear-wheel steering system – something Honda first tried in the 1987 Honda Prelude – and much more advanced system currently in use on the US-market Accord.
The new Civic Tourer, which will be launched in 2014, is fitted with active rear suspension - with comfort, normal and dynamic settings. It is thought that this system will be used in the Type-R, in conjunction with a mechanical limited slip differential, meaning the Ring target could well be within reach.
Honda originally spoke of a 2015 launch date, which means we will most likely see a concept at one of next year’s big European motor shows.
The aim of the project is not only to be the fastest hot hatch, but also remain competitively priced – with Honda UK wanting a base price of around the £25,000 mark. At the minute, the Type-R would face strong competition from the Renaultsport Megane 265 Trophy (the current Ring record holder), Vauxhall Astra VXR and surprisingly rapid Mountune Focus ST – not to mention whatever else rival manufacturers have in the pipeline.
And Honda has teased the new Civic Type-R on video, too. In this video, we see the prototype Civic Type-R at the Nurburgring Nordschleife. With Tarquini behind the wheel, it's a less than subtle clue that Honda is aiming for an eight minute lap time to steal the Renault Megane Trophy's 8min8sec record...