When Honda unveils a new sports concept there is always a sense of anticipation and the new Civic Type R is no exception. To please all its fans, Honda engineers have designed a ‘superhatch’ to deliver blistering performance from the same power output as the previous incarnation (200ps). The aggressive, lower and wider-looking body encases a new 2.0 litre engine and the model, built in Britain, will go on sale in early 2007 priced around £18,000. Expect to see more 3 door versions at the London Motor Show in July.

The Type R name was introduced by Honda Motorcycles, where the letter R was added to conventional bike names to indicate a performance derivative. For example, the CB – a standard 4-cylinder across-the-frame bike – became the CB-R, a sporting model.

One of the earliest Type R cars was the Honda NSX-R, a stripped-down, lightweight version of the NSX supercar. This was developed in response to claims the NSX did not have enough power to compete with rival cars from Porsche and Ferrari. The key factor in this argument – and a point proved by the NSX-R – was the importance of the power to weight ratio.

The NSX-R epitomised Honda’s approach to creating high performance cars, and every subsequent Type R vehicle has been built to conform to certain principles. Each follows the Type R philosophy.

The Type R philosophy is not about building the most powerful, or fastest car in the world. It is about creating a car that provides a well-engineered, but exciting driving experience. To offer this, every Type R needs to have certain key characteristics:

Racing

An exhilarating driving experience similar to that felt when piloting a racing car.

Involvement

High levels of feedback and involvement in terms of sound, steering response and handling. The driver should feel part of the machine.

Not just speed

Going fast is part of the Type R experience, but not everything. The Type R should have above average levels of performance in gear change quality, braking, steering and handling.

Pure

The driving experience should not be diluted or interfered with by driving aids or sound proofing that could detract from the driver’s involvement.

Stripped-out

A Type R is not equipped with luxuries such as satellite navigation, hands-free telephones or leather upholstery. It should look and feel like a racing car.

Engineering

To meet the aims set by the philosophy, a different approach is taken during the design and development of a Type R. Therefore, each car possesses a special set of engineering qualities.

Normally aspirated

No bolting on of a turbocharger to give silly power figures. All Type R engines are normally-aspirated, which deliver smoother power delivery throughout the rev range, allowing power to be transferred through the chassis more easily, improving traction and acceleration.

Torsional rigidity

A stiffer chassis improves the handling of the car in terms of balance and adjustability. This makes for a more involving drive.

Simple technology

No traction control, stability control or four-wheel drive. Or indeed any other driver aids that can distance the driver from the experience. Instead, a Type R is based on clever, but simple engineering solutions rather than electronic gadgetry.