A NEW Civic Type R has been unleashed by Honda - and it's the hottest version yet.
More powerful, bigger all round and packed with aerodynamic features, it is the ultimate in the Civic Type R's 25 year history.
Powered by the most potent V-TEC turbo engine Honda has developed, the new Type R pumps out 329ps resulting in a top speed of 171mph and a 0 to 62mph acceleration time of 5.4 seconds.
Compared to its predecessor that is half-a-second faster through the gears with a power hike of some 9ps and an increase in torque of 20Nm to 420Nm.
It adds up to an even more exhilarating drive than before and puts the new Type R ahead of the game in the performance league and the car has already set a new lap record for front-wheel-drive vehicles at Japan's famous Suzuka race track.
The new Type R is priced from £46,995 and sits at the top of the new Civic range launched in 2022.
That's a hefty increase over the Â£36,415 the previous version cost but the changes Honda has made to the newcomer put it streets ahead of what has gone before.
As such, it is up against the likes of the Mercedes A35, the VW Golf R and the Cupra Leon yet none of those have the dynamic presence possessed by the new Honda.
We have just got to grips with the new Civic Type R on the track at Thruxton in Hampshire and on the roads around Salisbury Plain - at times in atrocious wet weather.
Despite its breathtaking performance, comfort levels in the new car have been improved almost beyond recognition and the drive modes now include an individual setting as well as comfort and sports set ups.
As before there is a dedicated Type R mode - controlled by a separate switch on the centre console - and that allows the car to come alive on the circuit.
A ‘straight through' exhaust system with a triple pipe arrangement exiting from the middle of the rear diffuser not only boosts performance but also delivers a splendid soundtrack as the car goes through its paces.
The drive modes alter the car's engine, steering and suspension feel as well as the rev matching function to maximise all-round ability in a variety of conditions.
Engage the +R setting and the instrument panel display switches to a configuration similar to that of an F1 car with a linear rev graphic flanked by a digital speed readout, engine information, a G-meter and the like.
There is a huge amount of driving information accessible through the car's display screen including lap times, coloured info-graphics showing track data and driver performance which can be reviewed as required.
For the enthusiast who enjoys circuit work it makes the Civic Type R sublime for honing skills.
Out on the open road the car is a magnificent GT with accomplished handling and comfort levels which surpass any of its predecessors by some margin.
Although the Type R looks similar to the new Civic e:HEV only its roofline, front doors and resin tailgate are common.
The rest is bespoke to the performance model and that includes a vent in the bonnet, a huge rear wing and reverse rim 19-inch wheels which are more rigid and appear larger in size.
All functional parts of the vehicle are finished in a high-gloss black, including the front grille, rear diffuser and central part of the rear spoiler.
Safety systems include the sonar sensors that first debuted in the new hybrid Civic, four at the front and four at the rear, which use the reflection of sound waves to detect non-metallic objects such as glass and walls.
A front camera provides a 100-degree view and enables enhanced recognition technology to improve the car's capability to identify road lines, verges, motorcycles, and cyclists while the likes of blind spot monitors, lane keeping systems, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control are all fitted as part of Honda's Sensing suite of active safety features.
Inside, the Type R has an aluminium centre console, a metallic finish to the band of air vents across the dashboard and very supportive sports seats.
The six-speed manual transmission is precise and efficient and gives the Type R official fuel economy of 34.4mpg with emissions of 186g/km.
We saw an average of 32 to the gallon on our run and even on the track the Type R showed a fuel return of 15.5mpg.
Boot space is the same as the regular Civic ranging from 410 to a maximum of 1,212 litres and with the Type R at 4.594 metres long is almost half a centimetre longer and the car slightly wider but lower the wheelbase is the same at 2.734 metres.
Options on the Type R include a carbon pack at £3,265 which changes the centre console finish, the rear wing and door sill trims, an illumination pack for £1,110 which includes under seat and footwell lighting while any of the five paint jobs other than the standard grey finish with add a further £650.
With the onset of electrification in the auto world this is likely to be the end of the line for the Type R as we know it - but this is its finest incarnation ever and one to be cherished.