This week, Honda’s crazed 10th-generation Civic Type R prototype made its bombastic entrance at the Paris Motor Show. The current ‘FK2’ Type R is arguably the most hardcore of all the hot hatches, so naturally we’re a bit excited about the new one.
Here’s everything we know so far, through our chat with the car’s designer - Daisuke Tsutamori - what Honda has revealed so far, and some (relatively) educated guesses:
See the car above? It’s not the production ninth-gen Civic Type R - it’s actually the second concept version. Look closely and you will see differences between this and the eventual production version - the rear spoiler, side skirts and the front splitter for instance - but on the whole, it’s jolly similar.
Honda pulled off a similar trick with a prototype version of the regular 10th-gen Civic which was scarcely different to the production car, so we’re expecting the new production Type R to be even closer to the show car than the last one.
“Honda’s concept cars are always very close to production versions,” Tsutamori-san points out, and that detail is crucial, as it means we know a lot more about the new Type R than you might think.
Honda is still keeping quiet about any potential Nurburgring record attempts, but the official company line of “we’ll be benchmarking our cars in the usual way” is pretty damn telling. And with a more sophisticated chassis, a bump in power and an even more effective aero kit (more on these points later), you wouldn’t want to bet against Honda stealing back its front-wheel drive ‘Ring record from the VW Golf Clubsport S.
Given that the wheels aren’t anything too outlandish, we’re expecting them to be carried over to the production car. The diameter has increased compared to the older car - 20-inch versus 19-inch - and the tyres are wider too, being 245 section as opposed to 235.
The prototype wears the same model rubber as the current Type R - Continental Sport Contact 6s - so it’s highly likely these will be the factory-fitted tyres.
Just like the ninth-gen Type R, there’s a reason why this car looks so mad. “Every design aspect you can see on the Type R has a functional background. Nothing is in place just because of the looks,” Tsutamori-san told us. What’s more, despite the visual similarity to the package on the current Type R, this is an entirely new aero kit - the familiarity is merely a result of ninth-gen already using optimum measurements for its mad wings, lumps and vents.
As far as drag coefficient and downforce figures go, Tsutamori-san wasn’t able to reveal anything solid, but did tell us that: “the total competiveness of the car has increased. You can be sure of an increase in performance in all aspects.” So an increase in downforce and top speed (especially once you factor in a power increase) is on the cards. A Type R that will exceed 170mph? We can’t wait to find out. It certainly helps that the lower and wider 10th-gen Civic hatchback is a much better starting point for a performance car.
On the subject of the aero, one thing thing that doesn’t look familiar is the little lumps and winglets at the rear end of the roof. Talking us through the tech, Tsutamori-san says:
“This element is the ‘vortex generator’. It has the role of calming the air stream going over the roof and to the rear wing, helping create maximum downforce. Without these vortex generators you’d have a lot of turbulence at the rear wing, reducing the downforce effect.”
The more eagle-eyed among you will recognise this design element as something seen on certain versions of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
Just like the regular Civic hatchback (pictured), the Type R will be sold in North America for the first time. That’s something we’d been anticipating, but Honda has now confirmed that the British-built hot Civic will indeed be shipped across the pond.
While Honda won’t reveal any engineering details just yet, we know that the Type R will get fully independent suspension for the first time since the EP3 (the FN2 and FK2 both use a torsion-beam/trailing arm arrangement), because that’s the setup the boggo hatch enjoys.
The current Type R is already a monster on both road and track, so with a more sophisticated chassis featuring multi-link rear suspension as a starting point, the new one should be even better.
This we can’t know for sure, but with the FK2 Type R coming so late in the ninth-gen Civic’s life, it’d make perfect sense for Honda to carry the engine over to the new car rather than start afresh. There’ll almost certainly be a few tweaks though, and we reckon the 306bhp output will rise to a figure closer to the one enjoyed by the Ford Focus RS.
From what is being insinuated by Honda, that engine will still power the front wheels, we assume using the same mechanical limited-slip differential/dual-axis strut combination to transfer the power to the road successfully.
Honda has promised a production version “next year,” but it’s widely understood that we’ll first see it at the Geneva Motor Show next March - particularly since Geneva was chosen as the debut show for the FK2.
Honda has also confirmed that the car will go on sale in the second half of 2017 in Europe, although there’s no word on when the American order books will open.
So, a little while to go. In the mean time, if you want to find out a little more about the FK2 Type R, check out the latest update from our long-term test car.