It's here! The first new Honda Civic Type R lands in New Zealand
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The timing could not be better for Honda.
No manufacturer needs good news more than Honda, given the amount of sledging going on with their sole-supplied Formula 1 team, McLaren. It seems like every day there's new dirt, new rumours, new scathing quotes about what's happening next to the struggling team.
And of course, we all know that Honda are better than that. They've been dominant in Formula 1 before, and of course their road cars continue to enjoy a tough-as-nails reputation.
What better way then to distract from the world of Formula 1 than for Honda's new halo car, the FK8-generation Civic Type R, to burst onto the international scene. Europe and America have theirs, and soon we'll join that queue.
There's currently just the one in New Zealand, and it's sitting pride of place at Honda's Newmarket dealership. It's a pre-production model, so there are some finite elements that will be slightly changed for the production model (it also sports the R-00000 chassis number, engraved in the metal plate between the front seats).
It will soon be part of the national launch of the CTR, before being circulated as a press car and being displayed at July's CRC Speedshow. By that point the limited run of production models should start to flow into the country.
In a similar vein as the Toyota C-HR crossover we had on test last weekend, a car that you notice something new about each time you look at it, the Civic Type R has such a huge variety of different vents and winglets. Too many to spot them all in one sitting, anyway.
The stack of portals on the flanks of the front bumper create an air curtain around the front wheels to reduce drag, seven 'vortex generators' (the little 'shark fin'-looking nubs on the top of the bootlid and roof) help direct air into the enormous rear wing to help create downforce, and that's just the obvious stuff. Honda have also sculpted the car's underbelly to feature similar levels of anorak-level aerodynamic design.
It's a fascinating car to simply walk around and look at. For every vent there's seemingly another just around the corner that's completely solid without any apertures. Those huge ones on the rear bumper, like their application on the standard Civic, appear to be just for show.
Inside, the interior gains your requisite list of Type R goodies. Bucket seats, a sports steering wheel, a stubby little gearknob (they only come as a manual, of course), and an ocean of red fabric and carbon fibre are all there as you'd expect. A racy adaptation of the interior we rather liked when we tested the Civic RS, then.
Where does it all fit in then. Well, with Honda NZ having revealed a price of $59,990 just a few days ago, it compares very well to its key rivals (the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, first and foremost). Within the Type R nameplate, it's something of a departure from the high-revving naturally aspirated Civic and Integras of old (as was the FK2 it replaces) because of its use of a turbocharged 230kW 2.0-litre engine.
Even so, it's already been well received. In the small space of time I took these photos, a couple looking to put their name down for one had walked in. The car they came in? An older FD2-gen Type R. Go figure.