Honda Civic Type R spied

Our spy pictures reveal the new Honda Civic Type R, spotted testing against its key rivals. Official video, too

The Honda Civic Type R is shaping up for its launch in 2015. Based on the fact that the car has begun testing on the Nurburgring in Germany, we expect that it will make its public debut in production form at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015, before going on sale here in the summer.

Honda has so far remained tight-lipped about exactly what engine would power its new hot hatch, but it has begun a teaser campaign, including this video, previewing an announcement at the press day as this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

So far, most conjecture has surrounded the engine, and we’re hoping that the information to be revealed at the show will concern what’s under the bonnet.

Rumours vary between a 1.6 and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol - which would make this the first Type-R to move away from its naturally aspirated heritage. After we ran the plates of this prototype through the DVLA database and discovered that it is listed as a 2.2-litre engine.

Although Honda already has a 2.2-litre diesel engine, and it is possible that they swapped the plates, the specific capacities were different enough to suggest that this could be an entirely new unit designed specifically for the new Type-R.

Honda has also stated that the Type-R will set a new record for the fastest front-wheel drive car around the Nurburgring. The test car here was spied testing against its key rivals.

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The prototype was spotted testing in convoy alongside the 276bhp Vauxhall Astra VXR and the more potent 345bhp Ford Focus RS500 Mark II, which proves that Honda is aiming to offer at least 300bhp in the new Type-R.

The Renaultsport Megane 265 – the current fastest front-driver around the Nurburgring – was conspicuous by its absence.

Look closely at the pictures and you can see a large intercooler for the turbocharger through the wider grille and front air-intakes. This works together with the huge rear wing and side skirts to make it look almost as extreme as the touring cars from the BTCC.

Despite the extensive camouflage on the pumped-up bodywork, a new set of wide-bore quad exhaust pipes and high performance brake discs with red brake calipers are also clearly visible. It looks more like the extreme Mugen Type-R than a factory hot hatch.

Honda has also ruled out an estate version of the Type-R, based on the new Civic Tourer, claiming that the two cars are aimed at entirely different customers and that a crossover between the two made little sense.

Senior Market Researcher Patrik Ponec told Auto Express: “There is a big contradiction between the Type-R and the Tourer so I doubt we will ever combine the two… the concept of the new Type-R is a racing car for the road.”

The new hot hatch is being developed in Japan rather than by Honda Europe. However, the prototype in these shots was spied wearing UK plates, which suggests the brand is keeping a keen eye on the European market. Honda also has a UK R&D centre at its HMUK plant in Swindon.

The UK should be especially important to Honda because we buy more hot hatches than any other country in Western Europe and have the most demanding road surfaces.

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