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We’ll dive straight in at the obvious place: the previous Civic Type R didn’t produce its 198bhp of peak power until wound up to 7500rpm.

This new one has got 50% more power and, more important, more than twice as much torque, which is available from 3000rpm lower in the rev range than it was with the old car.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The car’s driveline consists of a six-speed manual gearbox - not so coincidentally with precisely the same shift throw as the 2002 NSX-R supercar

Improvements like those would oblige any car maker to throw away most of the driveline and chassis technology it had used before and start again from scratch.

And as well we know, where there’s an opportunity to innovate, Honda rarely needs asking twice.

So the new Civic Type R gets not only a new turbocharged engine but also completely overhauled suspension and steering systems relative to those of the standard car. Its drivetrain has been painstakingly re-engineered and its body aerodynamically perfected.

The new engine is unusual among turbocharged four-pots for being ever so slightly oversquare in its bore and stroke dimensions. Otherwise, it’s directly injected and air-to-air intercooled, with variable valve timing and lift, a compression ratio of just under 10:1 and a capacity of 1996cc. It produces 306bhp and emits 170g/km of CO2 – the latter being competitive for the power on tap, without being outstanding.

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Wheelarch extensions cover widened axle tracks. Up front is the biggest chassis innovation: a system of arms and links Honda calls its Dual Axis suspension set-up.

By separating the steering knuckle from the strut, it in effect features two kingpin angles and less kingpin offset and transmits much less torque steer than a conventional MacPherson strut would – working much as Ford’s RevoKnuckle set-up does.

The rear of the car is suspended via an H-shaped torsion beam, with an entirely different cross-section than that of the standard Civic and much greater rigidity. Coil springs, magnetorheological adaptive dampers and stiffened bushings feature at all four corners.

The car’s driveline consists of a six-speed manual gearbox (not so coincidentally with precisely the same shift throw as the 2002 NSX-R supercar), a dedicated transmission oil cooler to keep it from overheating on track and a helical mechanical limited-slip differential (worth three seconds a lap around the ’Ring, they say).

/car-reviews/hondaHonda went to Continental for the special ContiSportContact 6 tyres, which are wrapped around 19in alloy wheels, and to Brembo for its drilled iron brake discs, measuring 350mm up front and clamped by four-piston calipers.

Last but not least, the styling is decidedly unsympathetic on the eye – but this is function dictating form to an extent rarely seen on a £30k performance car. So the front splitter, rear diffuser, panelled underbody and rear wing apparently produce a modest amount of downforce -  they’re not just for show, or for balancing out aerodynamic lift.

And, according to Honda, they work without adding significantly to the car’s overall drag coefficient.

The 2017 Type R which was seen in the flesh at the Paris motorshow will definitely benefit from a new aerodynamics package, including two new rear spoilers and a front splitter, to help keep the new front-wheel drive hot hatch in touch with its all-wheel drive rivals. 

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