Honda CEO Takanobu Ito confirmed the return of the hot-hatch cult hero during a mid-year speech this afternoon, in which he outlined the Japanese manufacturer's direction for the next decade.
Ito said Honda aimed to launch the new Civic Type-R by 2015, as his company sought to “fulfil customer expectations” of a new performance hatchback.
“With the application of technologies which will be cultivated through participation in WTCC (World Touring Car Championship) starting this year, the all-new Civic Type-R is being developed with the goal of becoming the fastest front-wheel drive vehicle on the Nurburgring race course,” he said.
The revelation that the new model will draw on technology from WTCC almost certainly confirms the fourth-generation Civic Type-R will be powered by a turbocharged engine.
Honda’s WTCC race cars are powered by 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engines – a configuration that is expected to carry over into the production model.
The decision to embrace a forced induction powerplant would represent a significant shift in Honda’s ideology, with the brand historically priding itself on its high-revving naturally aspirated engines.
The trend of engine downsizing and turbocharging is widespread throughout the automotive industry, as manufacturers pursue the desirable combination of high power and torque outputs and low fuel consumption.
Honda was forced to stop production of the previous-generation Civic Type-R because its naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine failed to meet a number of countries’ emissions regulations.
CarAdvice’s spy photographers snapped a Civic Type-R mule with a large rear wing undergoing testing at the Nurburgring in June, suggesting that development of the all-new hot-hatch is already underway.
To achieve their goal of making the new Type-R the fastest front-wheel drive car around the Nurburgring, Honda’s engineers will have to at least better the time set by the 195kW/360Nm turbocharged Renault Megane RS265, which lapped the famous 20.8km Nordschleife circuit in 8 minutes 7.79 seconds late last year.
The Honda Civic Type-R will be produced alongside the standard Civic hatchback at Honda's plant in Swindon, UK.