While in the U.S. the hottest Honda Civic on offer is the very capable—albeit somewhat dull—Civic Si, over in Europe they have the
Civic Type R
, a high-revving hot hatch with race-inspired looks, taut suspension and impeccable handling. With the release of a brand new Civic
in the European market in recent years, performance fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of its Type R variant.
The new Civic Type R isn’t due to hit the market until 2015, but to keep interest alive Honda has let journalists—including us
—drive a prototype and has presented a thinly-veiled concept version of the car
. Now we have new spy shots of a prototype that’s devoid of any camouflage gear. We can also see that engineers are benchmarking the car against a Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
, suggesting the performance levels one can expect from the new Civic Type R.
Interestingly, the design shows some new elements not seen on the regular Civic. The design is heavily linked to performance, with many of the elements offering real performance benefits, as confirmed by testing at the Nürburgring. Key elements include the huge rear wing, protruding tail-lights (designed to aid downforce), pumped fenders, 20-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, quad-exhaust tips and sporty body kit.
Powering the car is Honda’s new direct-injected and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The engine also comes with VTEC variable valve timing and should deliver at least 280 horsepower. We hear the final figure may be around 320 hp, which makes sense since the A45 AMG testing alongside has 355 hp on tap. Unlike the Mercedes, Honda’s Civic Type R will come with front-wheel drive. A six-speed manual is expected to be the standard transmission, though an automatic or dual-clutch unit may be offered as an option.
Despite Spanish automaker SEAT recently clinching the front-wheel-drive lap record at the Nürburgring with a time of 7:58
, and former record holder Renault out to reclaim the title with a new Megane hot hatch
, Honda plans to continue with its own attempt using the new Civic Type R, something the automaker said was part of the car’s development program.
Unfortunately, the latest Civic Type R, like its predecessor, won’t be offered in the U.S. as it is based on the Civic platform designed for the rest of the world. The good news is that we may see some of the car's hardware in the next-generation CR-Z or perhaps a new sports car to replace the S2000
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