This is the new Honda Civic Type R Concept, a styling preview of the near-300bhp hot hatch that will go into production in 2015.
In a back-to-front chain of events we actually drove a prototype version of the new Honda Civic Type R in 2013, but this concept has just been unveiled at the 2014 Geneva motor show. Though CAR actually had a sneak preview of the new Civic Type R Concept a few weeks ago…
What does the new Honda Civic Type R Concept show us?
That if Honda’s designers get their way the new Civic Type R will look like a race track refugee. ‘It’s as if a World Touring Car has come into your garage,’ chief designer Masaru Hasegawa told CAR. ‘It’s race car for the road, not a high-performance Civic.’
Compared to the prototype we tested in 2013 the design is more extreme, but more homogenous too. The front splitter, complete with its cut-outs exposing the wheels, is bigger and more aggressive, as is the huge double-decker rear wing with its integrated smoked LED tail lights.
How will the Civic Type R Concept morph into a production car?
If Hasegawa-san gets his way, nothing at all will change: ‘We need to see how much is feasible for production, but of course we want to keep everything.’
Of course cost implications will limit those dreams, and the reality is the hugely blistered wheelarches, which blend neatly with new doors skins, will probably prove beyond Honda’s budget for the Civic Type R. Expect a more tacked-on look for the ‘arches, akin to the prototype.
Whatever final form the wheelarch vents take, legislation requires some safety mesh in there too, so stones don’t fling unimpeded back towards other traffic, but Hasegawa-san wants every feature on the Type R to have a purpose. ‘Everything on the Type R will be functional,’ he promised CAR. So although the position of the bonnet vents may change, they will remain in some form because the engine requires them for cooling, and the four exhausts pipes will feature too, and won’t be overly stylised either.
Expect those 20in wheels to be downgraded to 19s for the production Civic Type R, though we’re told the former will be an option. And so might an exterior package featuring the exposed carbonfibre trim.
What’s under the bonnet of the new Honda Civic Type R to produce 300bhp?
The first turbocharged engine to ever power a Type R. Out goes the high-revving and naturally aspirated 2.0-litre VTEC engine that’s screamed away in the past two generations of Civic Type R; in comes an all-new turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-litre four-cylinder.
Honda promises “a class-leading output of at least 276bhp” but despite the heady outputs of the BMW M135i and Mercedes A45 AMG, don’t expect the new Civic Type R to boast the full 300bhp. ‘The specific output is not one of our core values,’ Patrik Ponec, part of the advanced product planning team at Honda’s European R&D centre, told CAR. ‘Creating a high output turbocharged engine is relatively easy, but our aim is to retain the VTEC characteristics, so it’s high revving, with great responses and easy to control performance.’
That’s promising news for enthusiasts who were worried the new Civic Type R might have lost its unique character, and builds on our encouraging first impressions after a stint behind the wheel of a prototype in Japan in 2013. Click here to read that review of Honda’s Civic Type R prototype.
Will the Civic Type R need a proper LSD to deal with all that power going through the front wheels?
That’s what we’d have thought, but Ponec cautions otherwise: ‘We will need to consider how to deal with high performance at the front wheels, but the industry is moving away from mechanical systems to drive-by-wire and electronics…’
It remains to be seen which solution Honda will choose, but we do know the Civic Type R will come with a six-speed manual gearbox, and the interior will feature a set of sports sets in iconic Type R red trim (this concept doesn’t any an interior all)
Prices will start at under £30k, and sales will commence in spring 2015. With the Civic Type R, the new NSX, and a return to F1, 2015 will be quite a year for Honda.