New Honda Civic Type R shapes up to tackle WRX

This modern classic tipped the performance car establishment upside down. Set to return in the near future, it promises to be better than ever.

Honda looks set to fix the main problem motorists had with its Civic Type R.

The brand’s turbocharged hot hatch defied expectations to become the hot hatch benchmark, winning numerous awards after setting lap records at racetracks ranging from Bathurst to the Nurburgring.

Fast, polished and engaging to drive, the Honda won international praise as a better performance car than established rivals such as Volkswagen’s Golf R and the Subaru WRX.

But many buyers were turned off by wild looks.

Blending Fast and Furious vibes with a touch of Japanese fighting robot anime, the Type R’s over-the-top styling hurt its chances with understated shoppers.

European customers could choose a discrete version that went without the enormous wing, red pain striping and 20-inch wheels with ultra-low profile tyres of the regular model, but it was never sold here.

So it’s not surprising to see Honda take a different approach with the new Type R.

Unveiled in mildly-disguised form ahead of track testing at the Nurburgring, the Honda has new looks that sidestep the sharp edges and aero affectations of the superseded version.

It still has a massive wing, triple-exit exhaust and squinting headlamps that hint at serious performance potential.

Black alloys wrapped in Michelin tyres (as opposed to the last model’s Continentals) look appropriately snug in flared wheel arches that should translate to a wider stance on the road.

The new bonnet drops the old car’s NACA intake in favour of what appears to be a blow-through radiator duct similar to the Porsche 911 GT3 or Ferrari F8.

The change could draw oxygen from a larger front grille before dispersing hot air over the windscreen in a move that should improve downforce at speed.

Technical details surrounding the new model are slim.

We reckon it will be mechanically similar to the current model, powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine sending power to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

Likely to have more grunt than the outgoing car’s 228kW/400Nm maximums, the car looks set to retain the huge Brembo brakes and race-bred suspension of its predecessor.

It will benefit from changes to the standard Civic, including a widescreen 9-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12-speaker Bose Stereo and customisable digital dash.

Physical controls for the air conditioning should be easier to get on with than the touchscreen solution in Subaru’s WRX, and a “Honda Sensing” suite of driver aids will make the car a safe proposition.

While Australia will miss out on the reborn Acura Integra sedan, the new Type R is locked in for a local debut.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said the Type R “is such an important model” for the brand, and that “we’re going to get the next generation for sure”.

Expect the car to cost about $60,000 drive-away when it arrives in late 2022 or early 2023.

Originally published as New Honda Civic Type R shapes up to tackle WRX

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