The 2015 Geneva Motor Show has been the scene of some spectacular releases so far, but one of the hottest brands to watch was undoubtedly Honda.
In addition to the stunning NSX supercar displayed with in full Honda trim for the first time (rather than with Acura badges at the Detroit show in January), the big news from the Japanese marque is the official debut of the latest Civic Type-R hot hatch. It aims to be the hottest of the hot front-wheel drive hatches – and aims to show the rapid Seat Leon Cupra Sub8 and the sublime RenaultSport Megane 275 a thing or two.
Compared to its predecessor (called the FN2), pretty much everything is new – not only in terms of physical differences, but in terms of Honda’s approach to the Type-R concept. Now that the full details have been released, we take an in-depth look at the key changes.
2015 Honda Civic Type-R – styling
Type-R Civics have always been known for looking fairly lairy, but the latest version moves things onto another level. Based on the latest-gen Civic, it gains that model’s most recent detail changes (new lights front/rear, refreshed grille shape) while still keeping some familiarity with the old version. The new model, however is five-door only, unlike the previous three-door layout. The new Type-R, though gains further changes, aimed not only to make it look wild, but improve performance, too.
At the front, a more aggressive front splitter runs around the lower edge of the bumper, finished in black with a subtle red stripe. Large honeycomb mesh grilles help to feed cold air into the engine bay, and vents on the front wings and trailing edge of the widely flared wheel arches draw hot air away. A red Honda badge – reserved only for Type-R models – sits proudly on the nose.
Along the flanks, the eye is drawn to the twin-five spoke 19-inch alloy wheels, finished in black with a red pinstripe around the rim. Combined with the black side skirts, it adds presence when compared to the smaller seven spoke items of the old model.
Perhaps the most extreme angle, though, is the rear. A huge rear wing not only looks cool, but aims to keep the car firmly planted on the ground during high speed cornering. A flat underbody helps to smooth the airflow beneath the car, which exits through a large diffuser, flanked by quad tailpipes. It’s impossible to suggest it lacks drama.
The show car is finished in Championship white – a nod to their Formula 1 cars of the 1960s. There are several other options available, but we reckon this is the one to have.
Inside, the latest Civic interior is spruced up with the Type-R trademarks. Bright red sports seats hold the driver firmly in check, while a metal gearknob provides the driver with full control over the six-speed manual gearbox. Behind the new flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, a digital readout displays a G-meter – among other things – allowing you to convey to your terrified passengers just how much grip the car generated through that last corner.
2015 Honda Civic Type-R – engine
The engine signals the biggest change, not only for the car, but for the Type-R brand in general. In the past, hot Civics have been known for their screaming four-cylinder engines, which rev as high as 9,000rpm and sound fantastic en route. However, the new model – as with many modern cars – has gone down the more efficient turbocharged route. As a result, the trade off is likely to be a slight deficit in terms of terms of character, but the gains in performance will make it more than worthwhile.
That’s because total power output of the new 2.0-litre unit stands at 310hp – that’s 112hp than before. Better still, the turbo adds some much needed low-down shove. The old model offered a rather wheezy 156lb ft of torque at 5,600rpm while, thanks to the new engine configuration, the 2015 model produces nearly double that – 295lb ft to be precise.
All of this has had a profound effect on performance. The 5.7-second sprint from 0-62mph isn’t just 0.7 seconds quicker than the old model, but makes it the fastest-accelerating front-wheel drive hot hatch on the market. The added power has had an even greater effect on top speed, climbing from the old version’s 146mph to a mildly pant-wetting 167mph.
2015 Honda Civic Type-R – driving
In order to keep all of that power in check, Honda have heavily re-worked the front suspension. New components are combined with adaptive dampers which not only improve cornering control, but aim to reduce torque steer under hard acceleration. Further changes allow the Type-R to remain much flatter under heavy cornering.
Honda set out to produce the fastest front-wheel drive performance car on sale today, and judging by their claimed lap time around the Nurburgring Nordschliefe, they appeared to have managed it. Honda have set a 7 minute 50.6 second lap during the car’s development, which means it laps the gruelling 12.9-mile circuit almost four seconds faster than the already-bonkers RenaultSport Megane. The new Civic Type-R goes on sale in July costing from £29,995.
We’ll have a full review of the Honda Civic Type-R when more details are released but, before then, take a look at our reviews of the cars it needs to beat – the Renaultsport Megane and Volkswagen Golf R.