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Alongside the McLaren-Honda MP4-30 and new NSX, you could be forgiven for thinking that a mere hot hatch might be left quivering in the shadows.

Alongside the McLaren-Honda MP4-30 and new NSX, you could be forgiven for thinking that a mere hot hatch might be left quivering in the shadows.

But revealed alongside those big-hitters at the Geneva motor show, it’s distinctly possible that the production-ready, 306bhp Civic Type-R could turn out to be the most compelling part of Honda’s three-pronged high-speed reversal out of mediocrity.

Why? Well, a senior Honda source reckons that its £29,995 price tag could translate into putting one these on your driveway for less than £300 per month. That’s seriously tempting, not least because the Civic Type-R is the fastest and most potent front-drive hatch ever. Top speed is 167mph, and it’ll do 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds.

Another juicy stat? Honda has announced a 7m50.63s lap of the Nurburgring, set way back in May 2014. The impatience must have been killing them - that’s more than quick enough to dethrone the significantly more track-biased Renault Megane Trophy-R as fastest front-driver at the Green Hell.

We ask project leader Hisayuki Yagi if this had been a priority during development. “Of course”, he tells, “but that wasn’t the only priority. It would have been an easy task to just be the quickest on the Nordschleife. But that was not the only target we had. We had to think about daily usability, fuel consumption, all those kind of things”.

We also press to see if the car that stopped the clock at sub-8min was entirely standard. “It was a development car; at that time we didn’t have a production car. We applied a roll cage to the car to maintain safety for our test driver. It was mounted so that it would have no effect on the body rigidity; we were curious too and wanted to know what potential the production car had.

“It was important to maintain stock condition. The weight increase of the roll cage was balanced by taking out the rear seats and the air conditioning. The rest is identical to the mass production car, from suspension and tyres to engine specification. In theory you should be able to exactly reproduce that lap time.”

Yagi-San admits there is much more potential in the car if his team were to take the Renaultsport approach of stripping components to create an ultra version, but this isn’t in the current plan. Should the French - or another challenger (*cough*, Ford) - go faster still, we certainly wouldn’t bet against Honda axing the luxuries to regain honours.

As standard, though, it looks the absolute business. The hallowed Type-R badge is affixed to a body of wild aerodynamic effectiveness, the rear spoiler now heavily reprofiled compared to last year’s concept iteration, the rear diffuser even deeper, all set off by quad exhausts.

At the front, there’s a redesigned bumper, a large splitter, swollen wheelarches, and new intakes slashed into the front wings. Yes, it’s as subtle as being slammed in the face with a giant frying pan, but at least it proves that Honda’s heart is still beating hard and fast. It also suggests that the Type-R’s VTEC lump generates a lot of heat. sampled that new 2.0-litre direct injection turbo engine in a pre-prod car - now confirmed at 306bhp and red-lined at 7000rpm - and did not find it wanting. There is 295lb ft from 2500rpm, so this is a new kind of groove from a company that was for so long addicted to a high-revving VTEC buzz. But S2000-owning Yagi-San insists the free-revving character is present and correct. “This is not a turbo engine with VTEC; it is a VTEC engine with a turbo attached”.

All this goodness would still evaporate in a cloud of tyre smoke if the suspension wasn’t beefed up accordingly: the Civic remains, don’t forget, defiantly front-wheel drive. Honda’s answer is called the ‘Dual Axis Strut’, which adds an additional steering knuckle to the standard McPherson strut front end, the aim being to quell the unruly torque steer that 300bhp-plus through the front wheels traditionally heralds.
The Civic’s unpromising torsion beam rear has been tuned too, to increase rigidity. There are also adaptive dampers on each corner, and a mechanical limited-slip differential.

Should you find a B-road that hasn’t actually been decimated by a chilly winter and council penury, you can turn the Type-R into a Type-R +R, this harder driving mode plumping up the torque map, increasing steering resistance, and beefing up the dampers. The tyres are bespoke 235/35R 19s, hiding a Brembo braking system whose drilled front discs are 350mm in diameter.

The cabin is equally uncompromising, with a machined alloy gear lever knob joining the dots to classic Type-R models like the epic late-Nineties Integra, and suede-effect, high-backed seats. Five exterior colours are available, none of which do much to mute the Civic’s brilliantly outré exterior design.

The Type-R arrives this summer. The UK sales target is 1200 a year, making it a punchy brand builder as opposed to a ruthless profit driver. We ask Yagi-San if it could lead to more Honda sports cars. A Toyota GT86 rival, perhaps?

“When I was a young I drove a Toyota AE86, so I can fully understand that such cars are really fun. It was an ideal car even a student could afford. That’s the kind of car I would like to have today.” It’s certainly not a denial…

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