The Honda Civic Type R will absolutely return to Australia, though precise launch timing is still being worked out.
After repeatedly saying it was dead keen to import the reborn hot hatch after a five-year absence, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins confirmed to CarAdvice today that it’s now locked-in.
The news comes as Honda in the UK has commenced taking £3000 ($A5600) pre-orders for the car ahead of its launch there around May 2015.
“We are trying to confirm timing and therefore have not officially announced as yet,” Collins told us today. “It’s a matter of when not if — it will return to Australia for sure.
“[We] Should be able to confirm timing in the next few months,” he added.
Given the UK launch timing — incidentally, the Type R will be built at Honda UK’s Swindon plant for export — the Type R is unlikely to arrive in Australia before the third quarter of 2015 at the earliest.
The confirmation that Australia will get access to the car may seem like a formality, but the success of its business case will no doubt be a big relief to Honda’s local arm, which is starved of performance models, having sold just 81 CR-Zs this year.
Once a performance leader with a string of sports cars such as the Civic Type R, Integra, Prelude and NSX, the company once colloquially known as “Japan’s BMW’ has focused elsewhere of late, and has, to many people, lost some of its lustre.
Also worth considering is Australia’s status as a hot-bed of hot hatches. About 25 per cent of Volkswagen Golf sales are GTI or R models, for instance, while we’re also the second largest market after France for Renault Megane and Clio RS sales.
When the Civic Type R emerges, it will be joined by the reborn NSX supercar, though possibly not until 2016.
The production hot hatch will closely echo the updated concept version shown at the Paris motor show in October.
The Type R’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine will produce in excess of 206kW of power, will redline at 7000rpm, and will be paired exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, bucking a recent industry trend to dual-clutch autos.
The Civic Type R will also debut Honda’s new ‘+R’ performance mode button. When pressed, Honda says the steering wheel-mounted button heightens engine response by altering the torque mapping, makes the steering more responsive, and tweaks the new four-point adaptive damper system for enhanced handling performance.
The model is currently undergoing an extensive development programme designed to make it the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the Nürburgring.