These spy pictures could be the first evidence that Honda is working on a new version of the revered Honda Civic Type R. Our photographers spied two test cars near Honda’s technical center at the Nürburgring, both wearing a large, unsubtle spoilers over their rear windows.

Together with some minor body modifications, these cars could be early chassis test mules for the next hot Civic, the standard version of which went on sale in the UK earlier this year.

At last year’s Tokyo motor show senior Honda sources confirmed to Autocar that the hot hatch is likely to make a return, probably in 2013.

Manabu Nishimae, president of Honda Motor Europe, admitted that “customers are keen to see sporty models and while we can’t deliver immediately we are going to develop and deliver those products.”

Expect the Civic Type-R to stick to its classic defining characteristics of a high-revving naturally aspirated petrol motor putting out over 200bhp and focusing on handling prowess rather than outright pace.

Unlike previous Civic Type-R iterations, however, the new car is destined to be a five-door, rather than three-door.

Yoshikazu Kigoshi, general manager for Honda research and design centre, described the new Type-R as having “special bumpers, wheels, spoilers and seats,” to set it apart from the standard car, as well as the usual firmer springs and more hardcore settings.

It was also confirmed that Mugen would not be involved in the development of the Civic Type-R despite the tuning firm’s hand in last year’s Mugen CR-Z.

The return of Type-R is yet another indication of how seriously the Japanese maker is now taking its performance cars. There are rumours that more Type-R models could appear in the current range, but nothing is confirmed.