The Type R might be known as one of the more track-focused hot hatches, but there's a change of tone for this generation. Indeed, Honda says it will strike the perfect balance between performance and comfort. "We are trying to balance two aspects. Some rivals focus on extreme performance and others are going in the comfort direction. We want to go right in the middle," says the model's project boss Hideki Kakinuma. That's largely because the Type R will sell in America for the first time, so Honda needs to appeal to a broader audience.
But Type R fans, have no fear. Kakinuma confirmed to us Honda is still going for the elusive Nurburgring front-wheel drive lap record this spring. It's got some catching up to do. A pre-production version of the outgoing Type R held the record until last May, when Volkswagen's Golf GTI Clubsport S stole the crown, recording a lap time of 7min 49.21sec, 1.4 seconds faster than the Type R. Honda responded last summer by setting new front-wheel-drive car lap records at five European racing circuits. And then VW returned to the Nordschleife and took another two seconds off its time, just for good measure.
Weight is "just about the same" as the existing Type R - 1,382kg - so along with the slight rise in power you can bank on a token reduction in the FK2's 5.7 seconds from 0-62mph. There's nothing official yet, though.
The hot hatch also keeps a six-speed manual rather than opting for a dual-clutch auto like some of its rivals. "We want to offer customers the joy of shifting for themselves," says Kakinuma. It also gets a new rev-match control system for smoother gearshifts if you're not a heel'n'toe master. Hopefully it's switchable for those who are!
Longer, lower and wider than before, the model's centre of gravity is 34mm lower while the driver's hip point is 50mm lower. It uses the bodyshell of the standard Civic and with further use of adhesive in key areas; accordingly its torsional rigidity is 39 per cent improved compared to the previous Type R, claims Honda.
The aerodynamics are also improved with a smoother underbody, front air curtain, a lightweight rear wing and vortex generators on the roof line. Honda claims the result is a best-in-class balance between lift and drag.
There's something else new for die-hard Type R fans, which hopefully means its track ability will be even better than before. That's the three drive modes. The sensible one, Comfort, should make the car feel like a standard Civic, while Sport is the default mode. The R mode - familiar from the FK2 - is "a bit harder than before" according to Kakinuma. "We've extended the spectrum of the modes," he adds. We'll look forward to putting that promise to the test soon as soon as possible.