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.
What’s the pumped-up Civic’s competition then? Well, 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 Mercedes A35 AMG or BMW M135i.
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 section to find how much you could save on the brochure price without any awkward haggling.