Honda has taken the camouflage off the latest version of its Civic Type R, a car we already knew was fast thanks to the fact that it has already claimed the front-wheel drive lap record at the Suzuka F1 circuit in Japan.
What we don't know yet, however, is just quite how fast, because although Honda has revealed details of the new Type R's power plant, which it says is "the strongest VTEC turbocharged engine", so far, it hasn't released any more details about how fast it'll go.
While there's likely going to be more than the outgoing model's 320hp on tap, the engine in the new Type R is an "incremental" evolution of the old 2.0-litre turbocharged 17YM unit. The biggest changes are to the turbo, which has been redesigned to be more compact, changing the shape and blade count, making it more efficient and powerful. The six-speed manual gearbox is an "improvement" on the old one, with, among other things, changes coming in the form of a new gear lever and shift pattern allowing for a sharper, more precise gear change, especially when paired with the new rev-matching system aimed at providing perfect downshifts. They should sound all the better, too, with a new lightweight, high-efficiency triple exhaust.
Mechanically then, the new Civic Type R isn't drastically different from the old one. Styling-wise though, there's a lot more of a difference, with the new one losing the polarising angularity of the old car, being based on the new 11th generation five-door Civic liftback.
Overall, the design is smoother than before, although the bodywork has still been optimised for performance, with an enlarged lower front bumper grille, a subtle new bonnet vent and bigger vents behind the front wheels both to dissipate heat from the brakes as well as for aerodynamic purposes. At the rear, there's a bigger new underfloor diffuser as well as a new rear wing design supported by lightweight aluminium die-cast mounts, sitting lower but wider than the previous model so as not to intrude quite so much into the visual shape of the sloping roofline.
Helping with performance too is the fact that overall, that new Civic liftback body is much lighter compared to the last Civic with the tailgate, for example, 20 per cent lighter due to its resin composite construction. The 19-inch alloy wheels are also lightweights and shod in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres for superior grip.
There's a range of colours available, including red, blue, black and grey, though we suspect that the classic Type R Championship White will prove one of the most popular.
Lower driving position
If Championship White is optioned, it'll provide the sharpest contrast between the red suede-effect upholstery of the seats. Stepping inside, drivers will sit lower down than in a standard Civic, thanks to the new sports seats. Otherwise, the interior is much the same as the one found in higher grade versions of the Civic, with the same honeycomb air vent strip across the dashboard and the same 10.2-inch touchscreen through which the data logger is similar to that on the old Type R, operates.
Geared towards track days and such, the data logger has been updated with a range of new sensors and paired with a smartphone app for monitoring performance data on lap times and tyre friction with a scoring function to help drivers get every last second out of a lap or a particularly challenging series of corners.
Even in the absence of performance figures, we do know that the changes Honda has made to the Civic have added up to a quicker car. In April, a still-camouflaged version of the new Type R lapped the 3.6-mile length of Suzuka slightly more than eight-tenths of a second faster than a high-performance version of the last model. With that record in hand, a trip to Germany's Nürburgring Nordschleife to reclaim the front-wheel drive lap record the last-gen car briefly held there in 2017 looks likely.
The new Civic Type R will go on sale in Europe from 2023, with the first deliveries expected in the year's first half. Pricing has yet to be announced.