Honda wants the new Civic Type R-previewed in Paris by a thinly veiled concept-to be the “best-ever front-wheel-drive hot hatch” when it goes on sale late next year after a Geneva show debut in March.
Honda kept technical details close to its chest at Paris, but Autocar understands the Civic Type R will remain front- wheel drive in a class that’s increasingly dominated by all-wheel-drive models.
Honda will rely on the new Civic’s wider chassis to improve grip and handling stability, along with a new aerodynamic package that includes two rear spoilers and a front splitter.
“We have a lot more downforce from the design and aero package,” Type R chief designer Daisuke Tsutamori said.
Tsutamori’s design features an unusual front end, with airflow to the engine bay split between three vents: a conventional lower vent, a narrow central grille and slot-like upper grille.
The area of the central grille is reduced by a plastic moulding that mounts a prominent Honda ‘H’ badge but also functions as part of the Type R’s pedestrian protection crash impact hardware.
Tsutamori emphasised that the Paris show car was a concept, but he admitted that it was “as close to the production car as possible”.
With its snarling front end, high-set rear spoiler and huge wheels set at each corner, it certainly makes a statement.
“The difference between the current Type R and the new one is that the new one has been designed in from the start of the programme,” said Honda’s UK managing director, Phil Crossman.
As a result, it can use the new Civic’s multi-link rear axle. The outgoing model had to be converted from the Civic’s standard twist beam to a new multi-link set-up, eating up engineering time and resources.
Power is expected to rise, although the exact output remains unclear. One source said that “306PS [302bhp] will be the minimum”. That’s what the current Type R’s turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine produces.
However, Honda won’t discuss whether the power output of the new Civic Type R will move nearer to the 350bhp of the Ford Focus RS and Mercedes-AMGA45- both of them four-wheel drive. The Volkswagen Golf R is also all-wheel driveyet has 300bhp.
Keeping 350bhp under control in a front-wheel-drive chassis will prove a tricky challenge, although the new Type R is tipped to deploy a limited-slip differential once again. However, details of that will also be revealed later.
Honda UK reckons it will sell around 1000 a year – about the same as today’s Type R, which is destined to have a short model life of just over two years by the end of next year.