Serendipity is a wonderful thing – a prototype version of the new Honda Civic Type R just drove right by CAR photographer Richard Pardon while he was out in central London. And no, it wasn’t a pre-arranged set-up; these shots come directly from his iPhone.
Given the amazingly subtle prototype wrap and the obvious surfeit of challenging driving roads in the vicinity of Oxford Circus, we’re guessing the car’s appearance in the capital might just be a profile-raising promotional stunt on Honda’s part, ahead of the new Civic Type R’s launch into the market in 2015. Rather than a disastrously misguided attempt at a stealty trip to the shops.
Either that, or the engineers have given up with the attempt on the Nürburgring lap record and are now aiming to make the Type R as comfortable as possible over potholes instead. But given the size of those alloys (what are they, 19s at least?) and the very limited amount of arch gap – denoting the hot Civic’s road-hugging ride height and the reduced suspension travel from its adaptive dampers – we kinda doubt it.
Honda Civic Type R: being fettled for UK roads?
On the plus side, the very presence of a UK registered Type R prototype suggests some local handling evaluation is taking place. Which insinuates that Honda hasn’t forgotten about the importance of the British buying public when it comes to hot hatch success. Hurrah.
UPDATE: we've since learned that today's appearance in London is indeed part of the Type R's evaluation process. The man at the wheel is Synchro Motorsport team principle and driver, Alyn James; Synchro Motorsport is Honda's 'voluntary' racing team, based at the factory in Swindon. In his other role as Honda product development driver, James has been testing the Type R all over Europe recently. According to his Twitter feed, today is all about giving key personnel from Honda UK and Europe a taste of the new car.
Seems the massive rear wing and chunky box arches are heading for production unsullied as well. Good news for anyone who thinks the current crop of fast family five-doors is too shy and retiring.
Someone does still think that, right?
More info on the 2015 Honda Civic Type R, which is set to be powered by a 2.0-litre turbo engine producing ‘more than 276bhp’ is available for your pleasure in our previous stories:
Honda Civic Type R Concept at 2014 Paris motor show
Honda Civic Type R (2015): new spy shots of turbo hot hatch
Honda Civic Type R Concept (2014) first official pictures
Honda Civic Type R (2014) concept sketch and prototype drive