HONDA CIVIC TYPE R CONCEPT: GENEVA 2014
It’s still only a concept but already heat of competition bears down on hot Civic
Nurburgring honing; if you do it at the right stage in a car’s life, is about much more than just proving and perfecting ride and handling. It can actually enhance what the car actually looks like: it’s certainly done that with the new Honda Civic Type R Concept. Or so the claim goes.
Senior project designer from the advanced product planning department, Masaru Hasegawa, explained that the starting point wasn’t actually a conventional 1.6 diesel Civic. It was a Nurburgring test hack Civic with a biplane rear spoiler, a set of hacked and chopped engineering-spec wider wheelarches, aero venting in the front wings and a beautifully meaty stance courtesy of wide wheels and lowered suspension.
This prototype’s got some work to do yet
These are the essential elements, he said. We need these for the car to hit the lap time we have targeted for it. The concept has duly been designed around and styled to enhance them.
Some elements are exaggerated on the concept, he admits, and although he wasn’t pointing out which ones were, he did say the heavily vented front wings wouldn’t find favour with owners (racing car designers don’t have to worry about stone chips). It remains to be seen whether that awesome rear wing will reach showrooms: fair play to them if it does.
It’s a bit of a shift on for Type R though, isn’t it? The cars have not really been renowned for being as visually extreme as this. Indeed not, admitted Hasegawa-san, although that perhaps partly was down to the long since forgotten Japanese ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to limit power to 280hp.
Making cars faster back then meant making them lighter, which is how thin-glass specials such as the Integra Type R came about.
Today’s buyers wouldn’t accept this. They want the luxuries as well as the performance. Hence this more heart on sleeve approach from Type R, to make the brand more special.
It’s normally a dreadful cliche to hear talk of racing cars for the road but, in many ways, the new Civic Type R IS such a thing. Look at it next to the WTCC car on the stand and the parallels are obvious; look at the concept also on the stand and you can see where the building blocks have come from.
The production version will blend both cars – and it will bring back excitement to Honda. We look forward to seeing more – and finding out whether it brings a Nurburgring record snatched from SEAT to the engineering-led firm too.
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