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 subtle looks. But, rest assured, hiding under that businesslike, clean-shaven exterior sits a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged motor and an effective four-wheel-drive system.
The Hyundai i30N is also worth considering, combining the sober styling of the Golf with a much lower price – particularly if you stick with the standard version.
And then there’s the BMW M140i, which offers the novelty of rear-wheel drive (more commonly found on sports cars than hot hatches) and a brutish 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine.
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. And if you do decide it’s the car for you, remember our New Car Buying service can save you the trouble of haggling.