New Honda Civic Type R vs new Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years: interiors

The latest evolutions of the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R hot hatches promise thrills galore. But which is best?...

New Honda Civic Type R dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Each car has pedals that line up neatly with the seat and steering wheel, but you can sit much lower behind the wheel of the Honda Civic Type R, giving you a sportier-feeling driving position. The Type R's enveloping bucket seats also feel like they've been designed for proper race track use, whereas the plush leather-covered seats in the Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years are less grippy and have shorter side bolsters. 

The R20's seats do, however, come with electric adjustment (including adjustable lumbar support) and are both heated and ventilated, unlike the Type R's. So, on balance, we reckon they're a better proposition for the daily commute, although it's a shame that the rest of the R20's interior isn't as user-friendly. 

New VW Golf R 20 Years dashboard

For starters, the R20 eschews physical dashboard buttons in favour of small, touch-sensitive pads, including for the temperature settings, which are distracting to use on the move. There are touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel, too, and these are all too easy to brush by accident. The Type R's traditional dials and buttons are far easier to operate and don't require you to look away from the road to find them.

Compared with the regular Honda Civic and Volkswagen Golf, both cars benefit from bespoke touches, with the Type R featuring a lovely Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, a teardrop-shaped aluminium gearknob and red detailing throughout, while the R20 gets real carbonfibre trim and contrasting stitching on its steering wheel and seats. Overall, the Type R feels more special, thanks to its lighter colour scheme, sportier detailing and plusher materials.

Honda Civic Type R air vent

In terms of visibility, the R20 is hard to fault. You get adaptive Matrix LED headlights as standard, so making progress in tricky conditions should be less taxing than it is in the Type R with its standard LED lights. The R20 offers better over-the-shoulder and rearward visibility, thanks to its taller side windows and absence of a rear wing; the Type R's large appendage on its tailgate hinders your view directly the car. Mind you, this is mitigated somewhat by a standard rear-view camera (a £320 option on the R20) to help with low-speed manoeuvring. Both cars come with front and rear parking sensors.

Infotainment systems

Honda Civic Type R

New Honda Civic Type R infotainment

The 9.0in touchscreen in the Type R isn’t quite as crisp as the R20’s, but it’s quicker to respond to inputs and more intuitive to use. It also gives you some physical shortcut buttons, so hopping between the main menus is easy. The standard eight-speaker sound system is nice and clear, but it’s a shame you can’t upgrade it to something punchier, such as the £665 Harmon Kardon nine-speaker system available in the R20.

Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years

New Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years infotainment

As in the Type R, the R20’s 10.0in screen is mounted high up on the dashboard, making it easy to view on the move. Early versions of this system in other models were prone to crashing, but we didn’t experience any glitches this time around. However, the menus are confusingly laid out and there are no physical shortcut buttons. Thankfully, you can bypass Volkswagen’s system by using wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead.

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