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Honda readies its pocket rocket Type R

The Honda Civic Type R
The Honda Civic Type R

17-inch wheels, sports exhaust, body kit
17-inch wheels, sports exhaust, body kit

0-100 in 6.8 seconds
0-100 in 6.8 seconds

The standard Civic hatch
The standard Civic hatch

Note the dash-mounted gear-stick
Note the dash-mounted gear-stick

Small size, big bang
Small size, big bang
The term 'hot hatch' is bandied about a fair bit these days, but perhaps only a few cars out there are worthy of the title. The V6 Renault Clio is one of them, as is the turbo-charged Starlet GT, though they only sell them in Japan.

Well, let's add another to the list as Honda finishes work on the amazing new Civic Type R.

The Honda Civic hatch hasn't been embraced by the general public as much as the previous models. This could be due to many things, but the styling is usually always the first aspect of the car to be critisized.

The car that preceeded it was more curved, had more flowing lines and was perhaps even a little sportier.

The car was also a big seller amongst younger car buyers. There was a time when many teenagers would look at the Civic and dream of what they could do - big shiny wheels, a fat exhaust pipe, tinted windows - the usual stuff. However, the new Civic has put a lot of these youngsters off.

Luckily for Honda, the Type R is here to save the day.

The new Type R, thankfully, has been given a fairly comprehensive cosmetic overhaul, resulting in a much more aggressive and pleasing profile.

But as with all Honda's Type R vehicles, there's much more than just a body kit and mag wheels. That's right, this puppy's got game.

While you can tell the car has been given a rather tasty exterior upgrade, with extras such as side skirts, chin spoiler, rear apron and large roof spoiler, you may not have known that these were used for more than just sex appeal.

These extras dramatically reduce the car's drag co-efficient, basically giving the car greatly improved aerodynamic performance. There's less drag or, in laymans terms, the car cuts through air better - it creates less turbulence.

The new Type R Civic has also been lowered by 15mm, again reducing drag. The three-door hatch has a wide-track design with minimal overhangs, giving the car great handling characterisitics as well as touting its sporty intent.

There's also the finer touches, like the new mesh-look front grille with Type R lettering and a twin-pipe sports exhaust system, which finishes off the new pocket rocket nicely.

The suspension has also been tinkered with. Honda engineers stiffened the compression damping to cope with the lowered chassis and the springs are also firmer. Sitting pretty on 17-inch alloy wheels, the Civic Type R doesn't try to disguise it sporting nature.

The brakes have also been upgraded, to cope with the extra ponies on tap. The standard Civic front discs have been swapped in favour of a larger set, while brake pedal action has been firmed, ensuring the car stops just as quickly as it takes off.

Inside the hotted-up hatch, drivers will be given all the telemetry they need via white-faced tacho and speedo dials. There's Type R embroidery everywhere, just in case you forget what car you're driving, plus plenty of titanium trim, too.

Under the bonnet sits a naturally aspirated, 2.0-litre, inline four-cylinder engine, replacing the 1.7-litre mill found in the standard Civic hatch. The stock Civic engine pumps out 96kW @ 6300rpm - more than enough to get around the city in a hurry.

However, the Type R Civic's peak power has been upped to an impressive 147kW @ 7400rpm. This puts the car firmly in hot-hatch territory, but torque figures aren't as impressive. Though with a dry weight of 1200kg, 196Nm @ 6,500rpm is more than enough to smoke most V8s off the lights.

While no official 0-100km/h figures have been released, rumours abound that the new sports hatch will reach 100km/h, from standstill, in under 7 seconds. If this rumour is to be believed, it will be another coup for Honda, creating a 1,998cc car, with no turbo-charger, that can play with the big boys, like the Subaru WRX and Nissan 200SX.

The engine has been placed in a reverse direction to the older model and now gets an adjustable intake tract, giving the car even more low-end power. Aftermarket manufacturers are already hurrying to meet the demand they expect will come when the car launches, creating many new 'go-faster' parts for the Type R.

Indeed, the new Civic Type R will be quite the speedster. Furthermore, if you consider that the DOHC engine makes use of i-VTEC, it makes you wonder if Honda can engineer an even better engine in future? You'd think not, but then many said the same when the first Integra Type R came out - "They'll never top that."

The high-revving engine has been mated to a close-ratio, six-speed manual transmission, similar to the one used in the new Integra Type R. We're not so sure about the dash-mounted gear-stick, though...

Thankfully the car hasn't been electronically limited to 180km/h, instead offering a top speed of about 240km/h. And in the end, that's the reason people will buy this car - to go fast, so very, very fast.

The new Honda Civic Type R is much more aesthetically pleasing than the bog-standard Civic hatch and perhaps it will drum up a bit more support for the newly styled Civic. After speaking with Honda Australia, it is still unsure of whether the Type R will make it to Australia, though it is being looked into.

If not, it looks like Honda fans will have to get the car as a grey import. But regardless of these facts, the Civic Type R is possibly one of the fastest hatch-backs to ever hit the bitumen and a testament to Honda engineering.

Honda readies its pocket rocket Type R
Japanese Import Car, New & Used Car, 2007