Is this the longest gestation in hot hatch history? The new Honda Civic Type R will reappear at the 2014 Paris motor show this week, armed with a 2.0-litre turbo engine producing ‘more than 276bhp’ and a trick suspension system to tame all that thrust.
Honda’s been teasing details on the new 2015 Type R for a couple of years now, and the pocket rocket won’t be in showrooms until summer 2015. So it’s understandable that the company’s under some pressure to reveal some concrete facts ahead of us seeing the actual production car.
So what’s new about the 2015 Honda Civic Type R concept car?
Well, the crisp scarlet paint is replaced by a luminous blue colour scheme, for starters. Big deal. But Honda’s starting to open up about the mechanical package, too.
Intriguingly, the company claims the new Civic GTI will be ‘the most extreme and high-performing Type R yet [with] unmatched performance against all previous Type R models, including Civic, Integra, Accord and even NSX.’
Yes, Honda says the new Civic is faster than the 1989 NSX. Some claim.
Look to the 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine for the epic propulsion. It’s turbocharged - a Type R first - to produce ‘more than 280hp’, or a minimum of 276bhp in Imperial ponies. CAR understands it won’t quite broach the 300bhp barrier, so let’s forecast around 280/290bhp.
How will Honda keep the Type R character intact?
The brutal answer is that it probably won’t, despite a redline set at 7000rpm. Turbo power simply changes the character of a car in such a way that the screaming, rush-in-your-guts high-revs punch of the previous 22 years of VTEC-powered Civic Type R’s will surely be bid farewell.
But that’s progress for you, and it’s affecting everything from GT3s to BMW M cars as manufacturers seek to meet Euro 6 emissions rules. Let’s hope the six-speed manual transmission matches its claim to be ‘slick-shifting,’ a Honda ace card in previous iterations.
Suehiro Hasshi, Civic Type R project leader at Honda R&D, said: ‘Honda has had four Type R model derivatives – the Civic, Integra, Accord and NSX. The engine in this new Honda Civic Type R is unrivalled against all of them in terms of raw power, torque and engine response.’
What else is new on the 2015 Honda Civic Type R?
Honda’s confirmed a new +R sports mode, controlled by a button on the side of the steering wheel and used to sharpen throttle response, bolster the torque curve, tighten the new four-stage adaptive dampers and ‘make steering more responsive.’
‘In default standard mode, the Civic Type R is exceptionally agile, an everyday sports car with an enjoyable and fluid acceleration,’ added Hasshi. ‘The +R button brings out a more dynamic and athletic car for the driver, sure to set pulses racing. The difference in character is immense. The +R mode is extreme; the car is ideal for the track and will be appreciated by the genuine sports-driving enthusiast.’
The final new bit of news is the addition of a ‘steer axis’ - two kingpins in the front suspension to reduce torque steer. No word yet on how it works, though we understand it follows the kinematic theorem used in the front axle of the Ford Focus RS and Renaultsport Megane.
Expect to see the final production Civic Type R in UK showrooms by summer 2015. It’s built locally in Swindon and engineered for Europe. Here’s to hoping it matches the thrills of its predecessors.