Honda will unveil a more powerful version of its iconic Civic Type R hatchback at the Paris motor show next month – and it will be launched in New Zealand later next year.
It will be the first time the Civic R will officially be available here through Honda’s dealer network. Its arrival might be accompanied by Honda celebration, that’s if the company reclaims the Civic R’s title as the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the Nurburgring.
The new Civic R is pictured above camouflaged and testing at the German circuit. 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). The Type R recorded the same time as the rear-drive BMW M3 CSL and blew away the supercar Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 (7min:52sec).
But three months ago a track-focused, heavily modified Volkswagen Golf GTi Clubsport S pipped the Civic R’s time by a split second, recording 7min:49.1sec.
VW took around 30kg out of the car – including the rear seats – used a lighter six-speed manual gearbox instead of the heavier double-clutch DSG, and remapped the Golf’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine to deliver around 230kW and record a top speed on the record run of 255km/h.
Engineers did a lot of work on the car’s suspension and brakes. Shock absorbers were calibrated for a so-called ‘Nurburgring setting,’ providing both the suppleness needed on the track’s many awkward surfaces with accuracy and control. The car also got an aluminium front sub-frame and aluminium carriers for the brakes.
The likelihood of a front-drive Nurburgring showdown has increased with reports that Honda will deliver a go-faster version of the current Civic R’s boosted 2.0-litre engine, one delivering 253kW and 450Nm of torque. Top speed is likely to be upwards of 270km/h. The existing engine in the Civic R generates 228kW/400Nm.
Honda is also expected to stick with a six-speed manual gearbox. On power alone, the new Civic R should move clear of the two-seater Golf GTi Clubsport S to become the world’s most powerful front-drive hatchback.
The Civic R concept will appear in Paris alongside the 10th generation standard Civic five-door, which will also land in NZ next year. The Civic sedan/liftback range went on sale here last week.
Honda’s designers have reportedly been tasked with styling a more restrained but bigger Type R, toning down the current model’s out-there look and perhaps replacing the rear wing with a more subtle tailgate spoiler.
Prototypes have been spied on the Nurburgring with the wing, but reports say the Paris concept won’t have one, nor will the production model when it appears in Europe in September, 2017.
Trademark design cues such as the red bumper detailing, flared wheelarches and oversized air intakes will remain on a car reportedly around 30mm wider, 20mm lower and 130mm longer than the current Civic R.