Honda will be drawing in the crowd’s at October’s Paris Motor Show with an all-new Civic Type R, but we’ve got our first look of a prototype testing on UK roads. Our exclusive images also give you a sneak preview before the covers come off.
The disguised prototype of the next mega hatch was spotted in London by Richard Lane, subeditor at Auto Express’ sister publication evo magazine. The chunky rear bumper with diffuser, rear spoiler, big wheels and side skirts are the only real hint of the performance on offer, but the front (not pictured) is said to be more aggressive in look. Unusually, the SEAT Leon Cupra rival sports three tailpipes, rather than the usual two or four, but it’s likely that Honda is simply testing various exhaust layouts.
Even though the current model – limited to 2,500 models in the UK – only launched last year, the manufacturer will preview the next Type R with a concept in France, and the production version will then make its way into showrooms next September. The concept will make its debut on the show stand alongside the standard version of the all new 10-th generation hatch.
One of the key areas of controversy that the new Type R will address is the styling. Honda will attempt to broaden the appeal of the hot hatch with a more subtle and mature design approach replacing the current model’s divisive, extreme look. The most obvious change will be the deletion of the rear wing, while a softer front bumper and back diffuser will also come in.
Trademark Civic Type R design cues such as the red bumper detailing, flared wheelarches and oversized air intakes will remain, but the styling will be far more restrained in comparison with the current model.
Engineers will also turn their attention to the powertrain. Auto Express understands the concept car will be powered by a tuned version of the current 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, which will then go on to feature in the production model.
Current performance figures of 306bhp and 400Nm of torque are expected to increase to around 340bhp and 450Nm. The official 0-62mph time could drop to around five seconds – seven-tenths of a second quicker than today’s model.
Despite the huge reserves of power, it’s also believed Honda will stick with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox. This means the new Type R should move clear of the limited-run, two-seater Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S to become the world’s most powerful front-drive hot hatch – although it’s not known if Honda will try to reclaim the front-wheel-drive Nurburgring lap record from its rival. The lack of aero on the upcoming model also means the current Type R’s 168mph top speed could rise.
Updates inside will focus on quality, with a slicker and better-integrated infotainment display replacing the current aftermarket-style system.
The more traditional bodyshape will also mean a boost in practicality for the Civic. The new Type R will be around 30mm wider, 20mm lower and 130mm longer than at present. It will be built at the Honda facility in Swindon, Wiltshire, alongside the standard hatchback, with production starting late next year.