The car has been unveiled at the Paris motor show, where Honda’s design chief Daisuke Tsutamori said: “You can expect that the car you see on the stand will be close to the car we will see on the road.”
That means the Civic R production car will almost certainly get the prototype’s large rear wing. It was fitted to prototypes testing at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit and earlier reports said it would be ditched on the road car.
But Tsutamori has confirmed Honda will attempt to reclaim the Civic R’s title as the fastest front-wheel-drive car around Germany’s Nurburgring circuit. He said the Civic R “pursues the ultimate function – that’s why we made it to that design. The purpose of this model will be to fight for the record.”
The current Civic Type R last year lapped the circuit in 7min:50sec, beating a previous record-holder, the Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R hatchback (7min:54sec). But a track-focused, heavily modified Volkswagen Golf GTi Clubsport S has since pipped the Civic R’s time by a split second, recording 7min:49.1sec.
Technical details are expected over the next few days, but the likelihood of Civic R taking back the front-drive record has increased with reports that Honda engineers have tuned the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine to deliver 253kW/450Nm and a top speed of 270km/h.
The current four-cylinder unit generates 228kW/400Nm. Despite the increase in power, Honda is expected to stick with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox.
It will be the first time the Civic R will officially be available in NZ through Honda’s dealer network. It’s based on the five-door Civic hatchback that is also making its debut in Paris. The standard hatch will also land in NZ next year, some time before the Civic R.
The styling of the new high-performance model is restrained compared to the out-there look of the existing car. Honda set out to broaden the Civic R’s appeal with a more subtle and mature look, although trademark Civic R design cues such as the red bumper detailing, flared wheelarches and oversized air intakes remain.
The new Type R will be around 30mm wider, 20mm lower and 130mm longer than the existing car. It will be built at Honda’s Swindon plant in the UK.