With a name like Earth Dreams, you'd be forgiven for assuming that Honda's new family of turbocharged VTEC engines is more about environmental credentials than performance. And to a large degree they are – particularly in 1.0- and 1.5-liter forms. But the 2.0 is another beast altogether.

Thanks to a high-output turbocharger, direct injection, a high-performance cooling system and, of course, variable valve timing, Honda's new 2.0-liter four produces upwards of 280 horsepower while still complying with upcoming Euro 6 emissions standards. Although actual output has yet to be confirmed, that preliminary figure already compares favorably with the Ford Focus ST (252 hp) and Mazdaspeed3 (274 hp) and rests comfortably in between the Volkswagen GTI (217 hp) and Golf R (296 hp).

For demonstration and testing purposes, Honda shoehorned the smaller 1.5-liter turbo four and 1.0-liter turbo three-cylinder engines into an Acura ILX and another Civic hatchback, but the home it gave the 2.0 betrays more than an engine swap. What you see here is essentially the next Civic Type R, following a long line of Honda hot hatches. With this latest model, the Japanese automaker is targeting the front-drive lap record at the Nürburgring that belongs to the Renaultsport Megane Trophy and before that, to the lightweight Megane R26.R. A tall order, to be sure, so we headed to Honda's R&D center in Tochigi, Japan, to take it out for a ride.

Driving Notes:
  • Walking around this Type R prototype, you can immediately tell this is no ordinary Civic – even with the concealing matte black treatment and taped-up elements. It's got prominent beefed-up wheel arches, a big rear wing and a rear diffusor from which quadruple exhaust tips protrude – something you don't see on any of the aforementioned rivals short of the Golf R. Lightweight alloys do little to hide the cross-drilled brake discs with bright-red Brembo calipers. Step inside and you'll find bucket seats deeply bolstered and clad in Alcantara, with a thick-rimmed steering wheel right in your chest.
  • Pulling out of the paddock and onto the access lane to the banked track, the Type R responds instantly to a floored accelerator. Although Honda has made no mention so far, the absence of any discernible lag makes us wonder if it hasn't fitted a variable-geometry turbocharger or if the Tochigi engineers had managed to tune the turbo and VTEC to work in concert to eliminate the lag.
  • Nor was there much torque steer evident as we sped down the narrow lane, prompting similar questions over whether Honda is using a differential – either mechanical or electronic – to keep the beast on the straight and narrow. These and other questions will, of course, be answered with time, which isn't something the Type R seems to take a lot of to reach a rather brisk pace.
  • Racing onto the banked track, our car was limited to 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour), a speed to which it pulled with authority. The limiter cut in when there was still plenty of accelerator travel to go and a sixth gear we never had a chance to grab. We couldn't help but wonder what she'd do derestricted, but for this early drive, we were forbidden from using the most steeply banked lane at the top of the track anyway. Just the same, the car tracked smooth and solid through the sweeping turns, and whatever that lesser car was that pulled out onto the inside lane of the track as we passed the pit exit grew in our windshield and shrank in the rearview mirror like it was stationary.
  • Honda has clearly left few greasy bits unchanged in the Type R from the standard five-door Civic hatch on which it's based. Everything about it feels tight: the weighted steering, the firm pedal feedback and the taut suspension that only stiffened at the touch of the red Type R button next to the steering wheel.
  • Unfortunately, our two laps were up in tellingly short time, but we were left impressed by a solid hot hatch in the making that just might stand a chance of knocking Renault off its perch at the top of the Nordschleife leaderboards. We look forward to seeing it try, but more than that, we're hoping that Honda finally gifts North American consumers with this most forbidden bit of fruit.


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  • 100 Comments
      rsxvue
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't really mind the body too much but if Honda shoehorns that engine into a US-Based car such as a Civic Si, CRZ, or even an entry level Acura (A la RSX), Honda would definitely turn a lot of heads. I'm not holding my breath for a CTR, much less a 5-Door hatch version.
      sstowes
      • 1 Year Ago
      "we were left impressed by a solid hot hatch in the making that just might stand a chance of knocking Renault off its perch at the top of the Nordschleife leaderboards." Honda's playing its cards fairly close to the heart, but rumors have it, this Type-R, with a little while to go until production, has already lapped the 'Ring faster than any FWD vehicle before it. I'm sure Honda's not resting on its laurels. By the time this version of 'R' becomes production, several in its class will have upped their game, so Honda likely understands the car needs to match or exceed the next generation of hot hatches.
      Neal
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not only would this renew my faith in Honda, it wold also put me back into the showroom when it comes time to replace my current car. The Focus ST has peaked my interest as will the next Mazdaspeed3. Honda, if you build this (in the US) they will come......
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Replace the Si with this.
      Andrew Rollason
      • 1 Year Ago
      Do we know how much this car shares with the BTCC counterpart? That might explain the flared wheelarches etc.
      Pedro Gonsalez
      • 1 Year Ago
      Please bring to the US! More hatches to choose from is definitely a good thing
      • 1 Year Ago
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      me
      • 1 Year Ago
      Do they want a cookie? Every other car has offered 250hp with a turbo for years even over a decade for some
      • 1 Year Ago
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          • 1 Year Ago
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          mary.keana
          • 1 Year Ago
          carguy, for the last time, A EURO R is NOT the equivalent of a JDM type R. A EURO R is the same as a North America Si. The Integra Type R and the Euro Civic R are vastly different animals. In Europe, they call the Civic with the stripped out interior that is race ready the Euro RR which is similar to the JDM R
          • 1 Year Ago
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          Indubitably
          • 1 Year Ago
          Mary -- The Euro R other than the engine +/- engine mapping/tweaks is not the same as the US Civic si. What are you smoking? Not even the suspension is the same let alone the body.
        TRAILbrake
        • 1 Year Ago
        Call me a realist but it makes no fiscal sense for any consumer to purchase a sports car but there are many that still do. Whether you buy it from a factory or build it in your garage the only way enthusiasts justify an $80k Porsche or $15k crate engine is the pursuit of speed and smiles per gallon. If numbers and balance sheets are your game then you'll never understand what it means to be a true "car guy".
          TRAILbrake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @TRAILbrake
          Allow me to ask you a question, why isn't a Focus RS the Nürburgring FWD lap record holder? It's got such a superior multi-link rear suspension; so does a John Cooperworks MINI. Why aren't either of these cars lap record holders? Instead it's a Renault with it's Mac Pherson front and ox cart torsion beam rear suspension. To quote your post below: "The only reason that trolls use 'hurr leafsprings' in Corvette posts is because they don't understand how it works (they're about as far removed from the ones on pickup trucks as you can get)" Could it be that the torsion beam rear suspension on the Renault and CTR is beyond your understanding; they're about as far removed from the ones on ox carts as you can get, lol.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @TRAILbrake
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          • 1 Year Ago
          @TRAILbrake
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        Matt
        • 1 Year Ago
        Can you be sure Honda has no plans to introduce a hatchback to the US? A Civic Si hatch could lead to this.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Matt
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          • 1 Year Ago
          @Matt
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        William Flesher
        • 1 Year Ago
        The hatch versions of other compacts sell quite well vs. their sedan counterparts. Perhaps it is time for Honda to return to their roots and offer the hatch again, in all trim levels. That would follow current market trends and amortize the costs.
      Matt
      • 1 Year Ago
      The most intriguing aspect of this car is going to be seeing how the ricer crowd manages to make this look more ridiculous than stock. It already comes with every Pep Boys aero part they sell. Maybe they can go triple-decker w/ the wing?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Matt
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          Matt
          • 1 Year Ago
          No hatred, I drive a Honda (2004 Acura TSX manual). This is just a hideous vehicle.
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          You REALLY ARE an idiot, aren't you?
        jtav2002
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Matt
        Yea really. The power plant certainly seems to have tons of promise. No thanks on the styling though.
      Aurio Salimonne
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow,a Crosstour is a flashy model next to this abortion,look as big as the Odysey
      Rob
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unattractive and that rear wing looks ridiculous. I guess if your 18 to 21, deliver pizza, and your pants are falling down you will be excited about it
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob
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