At the recently concluded European leg of the Honda Civic Type R press event, the Japanese carmaker brought the whole family out to cheer on the new boy in its task to impress the media. For that, we thank Honda – a lineage such as this must be flaunted.

It was a low key appearance, though. Never mind song and dance, there weren’t even standees and backdrops for the past masters, which were quietly parked behind the pits of the EuroSpeedway Lausitz circuit as the reigning FWD King of the Ring did its thing on track.

By the way, if you don’t already know, the old CTRs seen here are the EP3 Civic Type R and the FN2 Civic Type R. The one being replaced, the FK2 Civic Type R, had to work on track as a pace car. Missing the pioneering EK9 and JDM FD2R, it wasn’t a complete intercontinental CTR reunion, but it’s a full house for the Made in UK Civic Type R hatchback. The latest FK8 CTR also rolls out from Honda’s Swindon plant.

The EP3 you see here is a pre-facelift three-door hatch in stock condition, including the 17-inch wheels that Malaysian Civic FD owners will find familiar. It’s powered by a 200 PS 2.0 litre i-VTEC engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, with a gear lever famously mounted on the centre stack. This is a 30th Anniversary Special Edition UK-spec car, but Honda did ship a version of the EP3 to Japan with a more sporting chassis and 215 PS.

The high-revving K20 engine and 6MT combo was carried over to the next generation unchanged (largely, it had 1 PS more), but the 2007 FN2 Civic Type R looked as if it belonged to a different century from the breadvan-shaped EP3, which hit the scene just six years ago.

All sharp edges and triangles, the FN2’s rear suspension was “downgraded” from the previous double-wishbone setup to a torsion beam. A contemporary of our Civic FD, it also used a two-tier dashboard, adding to the hatchback’s futuristic feel.

Over in Japan, Honda made a Type R out of the Civic FD, and the FD2R was faster (225 PS) and more focused (LSD, independent rear suspension) than the FN2. Malaysia was the only market outside of Japan to receive the FD2R officially, by the way.

The next Civic Type R hatchback was the FK2, which feels like it’s too new to be replaced. It was a jaw-dropping departure from the previous template in more ways than one when it debut at Geneva 2015, and this writer remembers being awed by the bewinged beast at the Palexpo. Seems like yesterday.

The FK2R had five doors (two more than its predecessors), but the big move was Honda ditching its famed naturally-aspirated engine. Turbocharging was inevitable, not just because of strict emission standards, but because rivals were pulling away in the horsepower game, and junior hot hatches were all over the CTR’s 200 hp backside. Honda’s answer was 310 PS, 400 Nm and a Nurburgring front-wheel drive record.

That 7:50.63 lap was eventually beaten by VW’s limited edition Golf GTI Clubsport S, but with the FK2 CTR, Honda announced to the Europeans that it’s serious in the hot hatch game, and will match its rivals in power and lap times.

The fruit of that desire, or rather obsession, is the latest Honda Civic Type R. It has reclaimed the FWD King of the Ring title from Wolfsburg, and we’re not surprised. Failing to do so would have been failure, as every aspect of the new car was developed and honed for that purpose. The resulting lap time of 7 minutes 43.80 seconds not just smashed the VW’s record, it gives the CTR street cred and those extravagant aero bits a reason to exist.

Today’s Civic Type R is a different beast from the lovable old ones. Until the FN2, CTRs were high-revving joyful machines that delivered plenty of emotion and sensation. The one we have today is a beast that prioritises outright performance over giggles – much like the R35 Nissan GT-R, I’d say – although it plays Dr Jekyll very, very well. We’ll tell you more about that in time.


GALLERY: EP3 Honda Civic Type R

GALLERY: FN2 Honda Civic Type R

GALLERY: FK2 Honda Civic Type R