The beauty of a hot hatch is its dual character, says Jonathan Burn in AutoExpress: the ability to do “humdrum day-to-day stuff” comfortably, but also deliver driving thrills when the mood takes you. The new Honda Civic Type R “ticks both these boxes”. It feels “far more grown up” than its wild looks might suggest and the interior is a comfortable place to be. Simply as a hatchback, it’s “enormously practical” and up there with the best, with a 420-litre boot, space for two adults in the rear, and delivering a smoother, calmer drive than you might expect.
Find the right road and really go for it though, and the Honda’s character “crystallises into something viciously hard-edged”, says Adam Towler in Evo. The steering is “very precise”, the car poised and stable at speed with tremendous levels of grip, and it’s “ruthlessly fast” – all the while “begging the driver to push harder”. It looks more like a saloon than a hatch, and sometimes it feels like it, but that shouldn’t be read as meaning that it is in any way dull. “It’s a 169mph riot.”
Most drivers wouldn’t want to be seen dead in something this lairy, says Andrew English in The Daily Telegraph. “The wings have wings on them, there are winglets on the roof, diffusers under the rear valance, the front is covered in air intakes, it has three exhaust pipes and if it had underpants it would wear them outside its trousers.” But for a certain minority, that styling will be “automotive catnip”.
The car may “wear its heart on its wings”, says English, but that extreme styling is all for aerodynamic purpose, and it works. You could use this car every day as a hatchback runaround, although the firm ride and highly strung engine may get tiring. But get it on a track, and it turns into a superhero: “a truly great if utterly single-minded machine”.
Price: from £30,995. Engine: 1,996cc, four-cylinder turbo petrol. Power: 316bhp at 6,500rpm. Torque: 295lb ft at 2,500rpm. Top speed: 169mph. 0-62mph: 5.8 seconds.