Honda Civic Type-R: Type-R concept breaks cover

Just like the Renaultsport Clio, Honda's hot Civic, the Type-R, sells better in Britain than anywhere else in the world. And just as Renault did in the run-up to the launch of the real thing, Honda revealed a 'concept' version of the new Civic Type-R at Geneva to get us in the mood for when the car goes on sale in early 2007.

Based on the all-new Civic and previewing the three-door body-style for the first time, the new Type-R is big on visual drama, although the production version is unlikely to roll on the out-size rims of the concept car. The rest, however, should be pretty much as you see here. As with the Renaultsport Clio, it's perhaps a little surprising that the Type-R doesn't boast a massive hike in power to match the newcomers from Ford and Vauxhall. In fact, in concept form at least, the Type-R uses the same high-revving 197bhp 2-litre VTEC four as the outgoing model. However (and again, like the Renault), it's likely that this engine will be re-engineered to deliver more generous mid-range torque. Not that performance was really the issue with the previous-generation Type-R; it was the chassis. Now that the lesser models in the Civic range are challenging for class honours in the dynamics department, the signs are good that the Type R will be a much more accomplished all-rounder than it has been to date. And because of the UK's importance to the overall success of the car, it's promised that there will be plenty of British input into the Type-R's development; the car will also be made here at Honda's Swindon plant. Honda insiders hint that the new car won't betray the Type-R ethos of performance first, so don't expect to see luxuries such as satnav, hands-free phone kits or leather upholstery, although air-con is likely to be standard given how many customers specified it on the old model.

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