What Car? says...
It isn't 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 that's capable of punching you through the air at 169mph.
Honda is aware, however, that the Type R’s boy-racer styling can be a bit of a turn off for, shall we say, less extroverted buyers, so a Sport Line model has joined the Type R line-up. With a low-deck rear spoiler instead of the standard high-level wing, smaller 19-inch wheels and an understated black interior, it is ‘designed to appeal to customers who want a stealthier look’ for their Type R.
It sounds like a winning package to us, and gives the Type-R a broader appeal than ever. Just as well, really, because it’s not as if the competition has grown weaker over the years. The pumped-up Civic’s rivals include the Renault Mégane RS, for starters. Less powerful, but with some clever tricks such as four-wheel steering up its sleeve, the Mégane is a considerably cheaper alternative.
Then there's the Ford Focus ST, a car that also undercuts the Type R on price. Or, for just a few thousand more, you could have a premium badge on the nose of your hot hatch by going for the BMW M135i or Mercedes A35 AMG.
So, in terms of speed, handling and everyday usability, where exactly does the Honda Civic Type R sit in the hot hatch pecking order? Read on and we’ll tell you all you need to know.
And whichever car you end up deciding to buy, check out our New Car Buying service to find how much you could save on the brochure price without any awkward haggling.
At a glance
The Peugeot 308 GTi is fast and well equipped, but it isn't as...
The eHybrid is a fine PHEV but a mediocre hot hatchback
Combines a classy interior with plenty of pace, but...
Fast and grippy, if not the most rewarding drive.