Slow start for Honda's Civic Type R hot hatch

Honda Civic Type R

THE HONDA Civic Type R may not be in Australia's dealers until as late as 2017. That's according to Honda Australia director Stephen Collins.

"We are yet to confirm [the Civic Type R] but I'm very confident that we'll get it," Collins told journalists at the launch of the Honda HR-V, a compact SUV that will fight for sales in the same sandpit as the recently launched Renault Captur

In addition to ruling out a 2015 launch here for the high-performance Civic, Collins admitted it may not be here the following year, either.

"I don't think we'll see it then [2016], but I hope we do," he said. "I want to be clear: we have not confirmed it. Timing is that variable."

That's despite the hot Honda being available for order in Europe since December 1 last year, and first-deliveries expected mid-2015 including right-hand-drive models for the UK.

Honda overnight revealed more details of its hot-hatch contender, showing some of the unique body kit that the hatcback will wear once the production version goes on show in Geneva next month.

The Japanese carmaker revealed that a new, almost completely flat underside would help with airflow under the vehicle, and would combine with a rear diffuser to optimise downforce "effectively sucking the car onto the road", it said.

As well, a bespoke rear wing will give the car enhanced visual presence and deliver powerful additional downforce, thanks notably to the structure of its airfoil section, it said.

A wide front splitter and deep side skirts also manage airflow and reduce lift, while the front bumper has been shaped specifically to inhibit air turbulence around the front wheels, cutting drag and enhancing high-speed stability.

The front-wheel-drive Civic Type R packs 216kW from its 2.0-litre turbo four-pot engine, good for a top speed of 270kmh, and is gunning for the front-dragging Nurburgring lap record, set by the Renaultsport Megane RS 275 Trophy R back in May last year.

While the French hatch has already arrived here, with Australia privileged to secure 50 of the 250 total global production run, the Japanese record-holder elect's arrival is yet to be locked in, giving arch-enemies such as the VW Golf R a free kick. 

Meanwhile, fresh rivals keep moving the hot-hatch goalposts: a 2017 launch would mean that even the 255kW all-wheel-drive Ford Focus RS that was announced less than a week ago would be on sale here ahead of the Type R. 

The slow gestation only adds to frustration for local Honda enthusiasts, who will have to wait until at least 2016 for the new Honda NSX to arrive here, pending production of right-hand drive models from its Ohio, USA, plant.

Timing of the Porsche 911 Turbo rival's on-sale is also yet to be pinned down to a specific month or quarter in the year. One thing's certain, says Collins: "NSX will be here ahead of the Type R."

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