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Honda Civic Type R 2013 review

Painted menacing flat black, the Civic Type-R prototypes we tested at the brand's proving ground in Japan showed it had the performance to live up to the wardrobe.

The six-speed manual gearbox matched well with the steady surge of power from an engine that Honda says has a maximum output of more than 206kW of power and 400Nm of torque.

It also complies with European emission standards that go into effect next year. But emissions weren't the first thing that came to mind after strapping into the driver's seat.

It was possible to launch the prototype explosively out of the gate, with less turbo lag than in some other high-performance boosted engines.

Honda stressed that high response, as well as high output, were key to the development of the engine. While maximum power obviously came in above 3000rpm, the response felt less skewed toward that level.

After accelerating up to speed around the first turn, the Type-R crested a slight uphill at the end of the turn -- and pegged the speed limiter at 200km/h within 15 seconds.

We got one lap in Normal mode, to learn the track at this velocity, and then our ride-along Honda engineer pointed to a red button marked "Type-R" in the dashboard to the left of the wheel.

Pushing the button changed not only the acceleration mapping but also that of the car's suspension, giving it more of a race-car feel but also a harder ride in which every pavement imperfection could be felt through the seat.

Pegging the limiter out of the first turn on Lap 2 took less than 10 seconds, and the car held its full speed through the second turn until we had to brake hard to enter the pit lane.

The development engineers' quiet pride and eagerness for feedback seemed to say they were confident they could achieve their stated goal of making the new Civic Type R the fastest production front-wheel-drive car around the Nurburging.

We can't tell if they'll be able to do that. But one short two-lap left us with a single impression: This is a car Honda has to build -- and to bring to Australia. Stay tuned.

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