The new Honda Civic Type R has set a new lap record for a front-wheel-drive car at the Suzuka circuit in Japan ahead of its official launch later this year.
Pictured with the same red-and-black distorted livery in which it was seen testing last year, it rounded the 3.6km circuit in 2min 23.120sec - 0.873sec faster than previous record-holder, the Civic Type R GT Limited Edition.
We still don’t know the new hot hatchback's performance figures, but the broken record suggests that it could gain a slight boost in power.
Official acknowledgement of the development of a new Civic Type R was declared for the first time last October, with Honda confirming the next iteration of its rival to the Volkswagen Golf R would be launched in 2022.
The Civic Type R is now said to be "ready for Nürburgring testing".
Honda's official image confirms that the new Renault Mégane RS rival won't be radically different from its predecessor externally. The overall body shape, with its low, wide stance, saloon-style bootlid and big rear wing is familiar, while distinctive triple-exit exhaust pipes and red brake calipers provide another nod to its performance potential.
A close look at our spy shots reveals the spoiler features a new raised mounting, while the smaller lip spoiler on the bootlid no longer appears to dissect the rear window. Further visible changes include a lower shoulder line, a lower bonnet line and lower headlights, as previewed by the reveal of the standard Honda Civic hatchback ahead of its European market launch in 2022.
A view of the interior shows what looks like different steering wheel and dashboard designs, alongside a dashtop-mounted touchscreen, although it's difficult to draw conclusions from this early prototype.