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Honda Civic Type R meets VW Golf R | World’s best hot hatchbacks reviewed and tested | Autocar

September 10, 2019


Both of these cars, the VW Golf R and this
Honda Civic Type R have got really good claims to being hot hatch royalty. That Golf R is
maybe the best all round hot hatch there’s ever been and this Civic Type R is the fastest
front wheel drive hot hatch there’s ever been. It’s pretty mega isn’t it, Hello!
What’s it like mate? Go on. Do you know what, it’s really, really good, it’s far
and away the best Civic Type R ever. I think we now have to consider the car that came
before this an engineering study, that’s what that was all about. It was Honda’s
engineers learning as much as they could about building a very powerful front wheel drive
hot hatch and they’ve applied all of that learning to this car. Yeah, it’s funny isn’t
it, because they went through a phase of thinking they weren’t going to do another Type R
because the world had moved on, obviously realised everyone still wanted one and like
that last car was only on sale for two years, wasn’t it. and it was very one dimensional. Is it fair
to say this isn’t? That’s absolutely fair to say, this car was developed concurrently
with the base Civic so this platform, now with independent rear suspension, was always
designed and intended to one day become a very powerful front wheel drive hot hatch.
Yeah, you don’t think it misses anything for not being four-wheel-drive? Absolutely
not at all, I mean it’s got good traction, it doesn’t torque steer wildly, yeah it
wouldn’t be better off if it was four wheel drive at all I don’t think, I think it would
just be heavier. It does feel light and agile doesn’t it and because of the double knuckle
spring strut suspension it doesn’t feel like it’s the front tyres at
all steering round. Well at least not in places I’ve driven it. What’s it like on a fairly bumpy
B-road. Okay, because I’ve got a bit of bumpy road here. This car now has a comfort
mode as you all know, the previous model didn’t and it slackens off the dampers beautifully
and it just means that it’s got this real plushness to the ride quality. It’s like sitting on a bed
of compressed air, it goes down the road beautifully. I’m actually going to pay it the biggest
compliment that I can pay a car. It feels, when you’re driving at good speed down a
bumpy road, like a Porsche GT car. That’s pretty high praise actually isn’t it? 2-litre,
4-cylinder turbocharged engine, 320 horsepower. It’s got tons and tons of performance but
it’s still quite a laggy engine. So you’ll be in third gear at just under 3000rpm, put
your foot down and you can count to one before it really starts boosting. Yeah it does take
a while to get going. Gearbox is good though isn’t it? Gearbox is fantastic. Yeah, all
Type R’s have got mega manual gearshifts and this is no exception, it’s really nice
actually and yeah the differential works really nicely actually, the differential is so good
that it just becomes one of the devices that you can use to control the car. So you use
the brakes to slow the car down, you use the engine to make it go quickly in a straight
line and you use the differential to drag you out of a corner, it’s really, really
satisfying actually. What I really like about this car is that it doesn’t have any major
foibles or any weird little quirks or trades that you have to learn to drive around. It’s
actually intuitive, you jump in and you can start driving it well and driving it fast
straight away. The interesting thing about it is because the Golf is, as we’ll find
out in a minute, is very much like that. Is this still, despite the fact that’s it a
great all round car, is it still exciting as well? I think it’s mega exciting, I really
do. I’ve been driving around in it all day and I just think it’s a huge amount of fun
to pedal along a good road. It’s quite a pointy chassis, it’s really well controlled,
really well sorted and I just think it’s huge fun to drive. What’s bad? Okay, there’s
a lot to like about this car but we should address it shouldn’t we, should we address
it now? Yeah we might as well, we better get it out the way. The way it looks. I know!
It’s funny isn’t it, Honda engineers have told me that there’s no scoops on it, there’s
no skirts and spoilers that are not essential. So all the vents and all the spoilers, everything,
they all do something. Which is something. Yeah, which is something. At least they’re
not just there to look aggressive. But I’m like you mate, I don’t really know anybody
who kind of likes the way this car looks. Yeah, I can count on one finger the number
of people who have told me they like how this car looks. It’s not a looker. Also the cabin,
if you’re used to premium cars in anyway, the cabin is going to be a let down. Yeah.
The infotainment is garbage, the navigation is just.. Is there a worse one than that?
I’m not sure there is. Don’t think there is, exactly, I don’t think there is. Having
said that, we now have a good driving position, the seat is much lower than it was in the
previous car. We’ve still got these mega really supportive seats. So in terms of the
things that matter in a high performance car, this cabin actually isn’t bad at all. Alright,
can I talk you through the Golf and at some point I suspect we’ll agree which one we
might prefer. Right so welcome down to, welcome you, to my, well not mine but you know a borrowed,
Volkswagen Golf R. Nice place, nice place to sit as far as hot hatches go. Try using
that. This thing, the infotainment system and the nav, it all just works, it’s intuitive.
Yeah, it’s brilliant. It’s just, as they all are in all Volkswagen group cars, you
know, the ergonomics are sound. Driving position is brilliant. Steering wheel goes exactly
where you want, you can just sit on a deck, bring it up close. It’s just a hot hatchback,
but first and foremost, it’s a hatchback, which offers it quite a lot. In terms of design,
this car and the Civic they’re polar opposites really. Yeah, totally. This is very restrained
and subtle and that Civic is just wild, yeah totally, totally. There are some big wheel
options on this and I just think oh no, it’s a bit much. Actually no, just keep it a tone
lower. It’s also pretty quick, 300 – ish horsepower. This one is a DSG, twin clutch. Would you have the
DSG or the manual? I don’t know, you know. I’ve driven 900 miles in a day with a manual
and it’s fine, it’s a good manual as well isn’t it, it’s quite snicky, it’s quite
sort of light and easy going. However, if I was driving one of these everyday and my
commute was like most commutes are, I think I’d probably have DSG. I had a pre facelift
car for the best part of a year, I did a load of miles in it, it was a manual and I actually
concluded that I would have the DSG box. I think it just suits the nature of the car
a bit better. Yeah because it’s not an engaging car, I don’t want to use the words ‘It’s
not exciting,’ because it kind of is in a way but it’s not as in your face exciting
as the Civic is it? It’s a different proposition, it’s an every day hot car rather than a special
one. It works on a deeper level doesn’t it really. Yeah, exactly. Engines good, engines
strong, nice linear power delivery. There’s a bit of lag, not loads. It makes an alright
noise, they’ve got this little sort of sound composer by the bottom of the dashboard to
sort of help that on a bit but it’s not, you know, it’s not a screaming engine or anything
like that is it really? No. Four-wheel-drive which means it’s got loads of traction and
it’s kind of front lead until it wants to put power to the rear but it doesn’t wait
until it scrabbles anymore does it. I think if you turn in and you’re trailing the brakes
into a corner it preps the diff to put power to the back, which is pretty clever. You no
longer sense that it’s waiting for the front wheels to slip before it shunts anything back.
Yeah exactly, but inevitably it adds a bit of weight so it’s less agile than even a
Golf GTI, I think but considerably less agile than the Civic. Yeah and ultimately, most
of the time I wouldn’t care that much, I agree, I agree. So let’s have a think, if
you were going to do a track day, you owned this car and you were going to do a track
day in this car. I think you’d probably go once and discover that the car’s actually
not really cut out for track work, it’s competent but just not that exciting. I think
if you had the Civic, you’d go on track and just think wow it’s fantastic I’m
going to do it again, and you’d keep doing it. Yeah, I reckon you’d be really happy
in one of these until you did a track day alongside somebody else. If you owned both,
what do you think the ratio would be of days you drove one versus days you drove the other?
I reckon I’d spend in a year, pushing on 300 days a year driving these rather than
a Civic. Agreed, yeah agreed but I think we both agree don’t we that this is the better
all rounder, it’s the car that you would use most of the time. We’d also agree though
that in terms of sheer excitement, in terms of thrill, that Civic has got an edge on this.
It’s really special isn’t it, it’s a special car and the Honda, no question, is
the better drivers car but I think this is the best car. Just maybe not the best drivers
car. That probably makes it overall, the best hot hatch that’s currently on sale. You
could make an argument it’s the best car in the world. Do you know what, I’d actually
go with that, I’ve written in the past that I think hot hatches are possibly the best
genre of car going, just because they cover just about every base and they’re affordable,
yeah exactly. There’s only so fast you can go on the road isn’t there, you know, you’ll
have a lot of fun in one of these, you go quickly, super reliable, you know, perfectly
fine to get into in December just as it is in August and all at £30,000. It’s such
a difficult car to criticise, it really is.

58 Comments

  • Reply Abhishek April 23, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Am i the only one who love the way type r looks..

  • Reply lasserbream April 25, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Are you serious, I take the Type R over a Golf R any day and the design of the Golf is so boring it hasn't change for almost 20 years. I give Honda the respect for the evolution of the shape of the Civics and what they try to achieve with new technologies into their cars.

  • Reply likewayt April 27, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    The one that is more exciting to drive please. That'll be the Type R then.

  • Reply stefan wagner April 29, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    The Type R is a little too much, but it doesn't look as awkward in real life. The Golf may be a good allrounder but it's still a Golf, boring all around. Better to live with some friends joking about your Type R than living a boring life.

  • Reply Mr Shaggings May 4, 2018 at 9:48 am

    The front of the Cicic looks nice but the rear part is….it's bad.

  • Reply Aecrim May 8, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Well the Honda looks stunning for my tastes. Its just looks like a magazine prototype car. Even the standard one liter Civic looks futuristic.

  • Reply Stuart Marshall May 12, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    In black. Unbeatable.

  • Reply Massimo Trento May 13, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Golf R best hot hatch ever? Some people should smoke or drink a little less and drive a bit more…unbiased, if Wolfsburg allows it, obviously.
    Take off your People's Car glasses and start seeing things on the non conventional side of life. Otherwise you'll be part of the abnormous crowd of "I'd rather like to be lived than live" mass buyers stalked by the most clever and surely "reliable" advertisment power made in Germany. They are second only to americans. Don't forget it, please…
    Cheers.

  • Reply 89foxn May 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    typer anyday

  • Reply Miniman's videos May 14, 2018 at 8:58 am

    WTF… The honda looks realy badass…. the golf is like…. well… like golf…. nothing special…

  • Reply dan11596 May 19, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Horses for courses, it's a personal choice.

  • Reply LSV10SwappedKeiCar May 27, 2018 at 9:50 am

    VW: This is our Hot Hatch! Our Fun Car!
    You can only have black seats.
    Honda: This is our Hot Hatch! Our Fun Car!
    How about a massive rear wing and ludicrous arches!

    Point is:
    – Type R is a Hot Hatch made for you to feel young and stupid.
    – Golf R is a pretty quick saloon car in a 'Hot' Hatch body.

    The choice is yours.
    But for me? The Type R.

  • Reply black nindo June 10, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    why does everyone have the type r in mouth ? why is every type r ever made so easily at the tips of everyone's lips ? lol this type r Honda will live on for all time it's already a king a Legend it's being challenged by everyone even those that don't do what this does .

  • Reply black nindo June 10, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    the people that buy the civic have looks covered and will be looking at performance over looks now ,your vw looks like every other and you have to spend more to have it looking like it could hang

  • Reply petar barukcic June 17, 2018 at 10:27 am

    They say that the Golf R is a better every day car, which I disagree. VW has in the last two decades some really reliability issues and I would thrust the Honda far more to handle the simple task to bring me from point a to point b.

  • Reply Foreign Made It June 19, 2018 at 2:53 am

    I’m sorry … if I see a golf r on the road it blends in like a Nissan Sentra . The Honda type r is just eye catching . When u see it on the road u can’t take ur eye off it.

  • Reply Dean Dodd July 5, 2018 at 4:13 am

    Should I just say Nurburging record holder? Type r all the way

  • Reply D. Corey July 5, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    The Golf is like a beautiful girl that's well rounded. you take her everywhere you go and show her off to your friends. Type R is that girl that you know will do things you've never experienced before just by taking one look.she's not a looker and you'd rather not take her to all the office parties but you do love her regardless.

  • Reply Adam A D Johnson July 9, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Job well done fellas

  • Reply Adam A D Johnson July 9, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Poor mans Porsche

  • Reply pollumG July 11, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Type r looks are growing on me everyday.. Love the golf but looks so boring.. Brand new golf r all day.. 10 years down the line Civic type R

  • Reply abaj006 July 21, 2018 at 4:48 am

    The golf looks cramped compared to the civic. Look at their elbows on the arm rest, there is only room for 1, i find that very annoying.

  • Reply Marcel Prinsen July 27, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Rubbish! The Garmin navigation used in the Honda is one of the best. Have experienced a few "car brand related ones", but they were really disappointing, let alone annoying.

    But in the end it is all personal preference…

  • Reply Blindsyde July 31, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Civic please

  • Reply porquetequejes August 2, 2018 at 11:39 am

    no fun in Golf R. I owened one, I was bored to fucking tears with it.

  • Reply gil August 6, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    These two might be the most unenthusiastic car reviewers on youtube, I was falling asleep 2 min in. You'd have to be an adult with no friends to buy a Type R, otherwise you'd know how dumb it looks for someone not in high school to be driving this car. Golf R all day, and it will smoke a Type R 0-60 all day with the DSG.

  • Reply tim red August 6, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    own both Ctr is better for the purpose you want it be. As golf? I considering its my car that I pick up my kids and go shopping in low profile way. However, I'll keep my Ctr and get rid of golf

  • Reply Hedge hog August 16, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    I am a bike man,i don't own a car. This little vid convinced me i need a golf type R when i eventually give in and need a tin box for the winter.

  • Reply IRFAN T A I August 20, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    GOLF R is wonderful car it sound very nice and German r the best in uk young British like to drive garman not crap honda civic or somthing

    🇬🇧

  • Reply Alex Tegg August 21, 2018 at 10:49 am

    I’d definitely take the Type R……………….if I was a 16 year old schoolboy and wanted something that looked like it was designed by the readers of Max Power magazine.

  • Reply CanyonMiniCooper August 22, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    The Type R is beautiful!!

  • Reply Charlie Aydin September 2, 2018 at 10:38 am

    It’s all subdued and drowsy looking till a stage 3 Golf R leaves your Porsche dead at the lights.

    There is a lot to be said for a car as fast as the Golf R which isn’t also a cop magnet screaming to be pulled over.

  • Reply Robert skyline September 7, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    Civic type R is very sexy and different

  • Reply P J September 19, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    The Honda Type R car looks fantastic .. The golf is to Boring there is nothing special about the golf r … And there are thousands on the road ..

  • Reply Bikke Chettri September 22, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Sena Maclaren looks crazy and designed with functionality rather than looks. I find resemblance of Sena at this Type r

  • Reply bananajoe123 October 9, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Honda R looks just embarrassing. Golf R has much more style, does not look cheap.

  • Reply X Ray November 7, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    I really love this Civic Type R

  • Reply Paddy McQueen November 9, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    worst comparaison ever. An "hardcore" FWD drivers car vs a Golf with some haldex pseudo 4wd system…. where's the point of doing that ?

  • Reply Ian Bradley November 20, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I get the negative reaction to the Type R looks, but I can't help feeling it's a reaction to modern life's desire to conform and blend in. Why do all cars have to look like a half sucked jelly tot? Celebrate the hot part of the hot hatch. I'm really hoping Honda don't blend homogeneity into the next evolution.

    I might have posted this before, the most middle class thing I will, or have posted. I parked next to an Aventador at Waitrose and it fit in, it looked at home. If you put a single seater next to it you would have the best track day line up that PalmerSport would jump on (perhaps).

    I am biased but I tried a bunch of cars so it's not baseless. I found the Golf bland and if there were no Type R I would have gone with a little Fiesta ST over the Golf. I do 90/10 local/motorway if it helps.

    I was also quite jealous of the VW infotainment box. The Honda one is functional if unresponsive. I don't like companies that push the driver towards Apple or Google as a sop to assauge responsibility for their one crappy offerings. The Honda GPS is Garmin, so fine (you can't manually update maps or add POI), the audio options work and the speakers are great, so it's not a huge distraction. It syncs with my phone, plays music nicely and does LBC. But for the sake of half a dozen tech staff I think they missed a trick.

  • Reply Stigs Ukrainian Cousin December 6, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Civic looks like it's made by 12 year olds

  • Reply iceman5815 December 15, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Love that type R.

  • Reply MarcraM82 December 17, 2018 at 6:28 am

    Great review, probably the most accurate review i've seen on both cars. My only disagreement would come in the form of transmissions. I prefer the 6 speed on the Golf R. yes the DSG is quicker but you lose a hell of a lot of engagement on an already very refined car. The 6 speed fills that void a little better. No doubting the Civic Type R is better at as a pure drivers car… but gosh that rear is ugly. Honda should be commended for making such an amazing engine and chassis though. Don't need AWD when its as good as this. Im curious if they think it handles better than the classic megane RS? On another note, this guy reminds of the bloke from Coldplay.

  • Reply lifenz1 December 21, 2018 at 9:35 am

    what about reliability !!. i will choose HONDA

  • Reply KariahLuke MacChan January 21, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Where are those roads?

  • Reply Umaxen 00 February 8, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    The Honda R is over the top AND is almost a second slower to 60mph, however it has a NUTTY top speed of nearly 170mph (275kph)! The Golf on the other hand is probably the better car, faster to 60mph, more refined, however just plain BLAND. Final decision? I'd take the Honda, however only if it also hit 60 in 4.9 seconds like the VW…

  • Reply Str1ker U.k February 12, 2019 at 12:06 am

    These pair of reviewers need some life put back into them, the boring lifeless golf suits them down to the ground , Honda type R looks like the supercar of hatchbacks ,the best hatchback ever made, try 1 ,you will see what i mean, its EPIC !

  • Reply Abhinav Pillai March 2, 2019 at 3:31 am

    Where did you guys get that background music in the starting ?

  • Reply Dan March 3, 2019 at 7:15 am

    It is a hot hatch segment not your grandma's go to the market sunday car.. so the win goes to the wild civic

  • Reply Richard HumberstonePT March 3, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Anyone know where they’re driving? Those roads look awesome!

  • Reply Tony The Babyface March 13, 2019 at 5:33 am

    I have driven none of these cars. I own a golf gt mk5 since 2011. In terms of reliability I would take the honda( my car is again at the dealership right now for coolant leaking this time….). 🙁

  • Reply J Bones April 24, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    It’s so obvious as soon as this videos starts they don’t like the Civic and they are VW fanboys. Two middle aged dorks that look like accountants talking about how they love the golf.

  • Reply loony hap April 28, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    typeR has that track look design! golfR has the look of a groceries shopping.

  • Reply abcdLeeXY April 30, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    I’d take either of these R over my coRolla 🙁

  • Reply Simon Foster May 3, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    I'm a Golf fan but it's just too plain. Let's go a bit more crazy VW. It's the Type R for me why be ordinary ?!

  • Reply Omar123 May 10, 2019 at 4:43 am

    Type r will kill all the hot hatches on a first gear roll

  • Reply Galactic Maui May 19, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Maybe I’m wrong but these reviewers seem a little biased.

  • Reply Mieszko Oracz May 24, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    I keep coming back to this video.

  • Reply Huzayfa Khan July 2, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    I know. Buy both!

  • Reply Hammmod Jabeer July 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    No one can compete with volkswagen golf in this category.

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