It’s not shy or retiring, is it? But then 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 downforce. 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 pumped-up Civic’s competition then? Well, the Renault Mégane RS, for a start. Less powerful, but with some clever tricks such as four-wheel steering up its sleeve, the Mégane is a considerably cheaper alternative.
Or, for slightly more money than the Civic, 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.
So, in terms of speed, handling and everyday usability, where does the Civic sit in the hot hatch pecking order? Read on and we’ll tell all.