Previewed in concept form at last year's Paris motor show (pictured), the finished model will enter production at Honda's Swindon plant this summer, with sales expected to kick off in Britain in September.
The future model will be the first Type R sold in the US market, and is being built to set a new benchmark for front-wheel-drive performance cars.
A new Nürburgring lap record will be part of its target list, meaning the model will have to be faster than the current fastest front-driven car, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S, and forthcoming rival, the 2018 Renault Mégane RS.
Honda kept technical details of the concept close to its chest at Paris, but Autocar understands that the Type-R will remain front-drive in a class that’s increasingly dominated by all-wheel drive models.
Honda will rely on the new Civic’s wider chassis to improve grip and handling stability, along with a new aerodynamic package, including two rear spoilers and a front splitter.
"We have a lot more downforce from the design and aero package," the Type-R’s chief designer Daisuke Tsutamori told Autocar at Paris. Tsutamori’s design features an unusual front-end design with airflow into the engine bay split between three vents – a conventional lower vent, a narrow central grille and slot-like upper grille.
The area of the central grille is reduced by the Honda badge, but also functions as part of the Type-R’s ped-pro crash impact hardware.
Tsutamori stressed that the car shown at Paris was a prototype, but also admitted that "it was as close to the production car as possible".
"The difference between the current Type-R and the new one is that the new one has been designed in from the start of the programme," said Honda’s UK managing director Phil Crossman.
As a result it can utilise the new Civic’s multi-link rear axle. The outgoing model had to be converted from the Civic’s standard twist-beam to a new multi-link, eating-up engineering time and resources.
Styling features on the concept include wider air vents than the regular Civic, smoked LED headlights and a new air intake on the bonnnet. New skirts made from carbon fibre help to give the car a more aggressive look, alongside 20in alloy wheels shod with Continental SportContact 6 tyres and flared wheel arches. At the back, there's a new fixed spoiler and three exhaust outlets.