It’s not shy or retiring, is it? But fantastical bumpers carved at odd angles, steroidal wheel arch extensions and, of course, a tea-tray spoiler fit for the Mad Hatter have always seemed to be the Honda Civic Type R’s raison d'être.
Yet Honda is absolutely clear: none of this is costume jewellery. Every twisty-turny protuberance, it says, adds some of that Formula 1 stardust: aerodynamic down force. Which is good when you have a 316bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine capable of punching it through the air at 169mph.
What’s the Type R’s competition then? Well, the Ford Focus RS, for a start. More powerful, with a rear-biased four-wheel-drive system, which includes a Drift mode to provoke ludicrous slides, the Focus RS could be considered at the PlayStation end of the spectrum.
At the other end, there’s the Volkswagen Golf R. This is a car that seems almost embarrassed to be a hot hatch judging by its sober styling. But, rest assured, hiding under that business-like, clean-shaven exterior sits a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged motor and an effective four-wheel-drive system.
In between these two extremes, there are others, of course, including the BMW M140i, with its butch, rear-wheel-drive handling and 3.0-litre straight-six engine, as well as cheaper rivals, such as the Hyundai i30N.
So, in terms of speed, handling and everyday usability, where does the Civic Type R sit in the pecking order? Read on and we’ll let you know.