Hot Hatch of the Year 2019: Honda Civic Type R
The Honda Civic Type R is the 2019 Auto Express Hot Hatch of the Year, with the Cupra Ateca and Ford Fiesta ST commended
Many new contenders have arrived onto the scene to challenge the Honda Civic Type R for its crown, but none has managed to topple this Japanese giant of the performance world.
For the third year in a row the Civic Type R is our Hot hatch of the year, and the reasons why haven’t been corrupted by the passage of time. In fact, the longer the Civic is on sale and the harder its rivals push, the more the Type R’s talents shine through.
Let’s start with that engine. And what an engine. With 316bhp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder, it has huge punch low down but loves to be revved hard, and it’s mated to one of the best manual transmissions on sale at any price. The slick, mechanical feel of the six-speed unit is refreshingly interactive in an increasingly digital age.
With driving modes that don’t overcomplicate things, the settings for this Type R address the issues with its predecessor. Now, in comfort mode the chassis feels more fluent, less fidgety and more comfortable, and easier to live with as a result. But ramp things up to +R mode and the Civic has lost none of its hardcore focus.
The grip that’s on offer outshines every other rival in its class, with a limited-slip differential that makes the most of this to find superb traction; the Civic will sprint from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds, and it feels this ferocious.
But despite the looks (which might split opinion), it’s superbly usable. Alongside the relatively refined ride, the Civic’s big, 420-litre boot and relatively roomy rear seats mean that there’s plenty of practicality. The front seats are superbly supportive, despite the low-slung driving position, and the result is that they’re relatively comfortable.
There’s good tech, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both fitted as standard, and with affordable PCP finance available we’d go for GT trim, which also adds sat-nav to the eight-inch touchscreen, as well as more safety kit.
The Civic won’t cost the Earth to run because you can even expect more than 30mpg if you drive it carefully – but given the level of ability on offer, you probably won’t want to.
Honda Civic Type R GT (£33,550)
GT trim adds to the standard Type R’s already impressive list of kit with wireless charging, all-round parking sensors, blind spot info and cross-traffic alert on top of AEB – but this doesn’t detract from the Civic’s blinding pace and incredible handling. It costs a little bit more but it adds a lot to the ownership experience.
This increasingly popular niche has grown to the point where it’s now approaching mainstream. It might be SUV-based, but the first standalone model from SEAT spin-off Cupra – the Ateca – is definitely hot and the hatchback body means that it qualifies for inclusion in this category, thanks to its strong performance, fine practicality and decent (for an SUV) dynamics.
Ford Fiesta ST
Ford has elevated the ability of its humble Fiesta to the point where this hot ST supermini can outshine much more powerful and considerably more expensive hot hatchbacks. The 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine has massive character and prodigious performance, but what really delights is the chassis that serves up incredible fun and agility.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2019
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- 1IntroductionWhat are the best new cars to buy in the UK today? The 2019 New Car Awards have the answer...
- 2Car of the YearThe Auto Express Car of the Year for 2019 is the all-electric Tesla Model 3
- 3City Car of the YearThe Volkswagen up! is the 2019 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Kia Picanto and Skoda Citigo commended
- 4Supermini of the YearThe Ford Fiesta is the 2019 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the MINI 5-door and SEAT Ibiza commended
- 5Convertible of the YearThe MINI Convertible is the 2019 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A3 Cabriolet and Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet commended
- 6Compact Family Car of the YearThe Skoda Scala is the 2019 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year, with the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla commended
- 7Family Car of the YearThe Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is the 2019 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Superb and Toyota Prius commended
- 8Compact Executive Car of the YearThe BMW 3 Series is the 2019 Auto Express Compact Executive Car of the Year, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mercedes C-Class commended
- 9Executive Car of the YearThe BMW 5 Series is the 2019 Auto Express Executive Car of the Year, with the Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S90 commended
- 10Estate Car of the YearThe Skoda Octavia Estate is the 2019 Auto Express Estate Car of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series Touring and Volvo V60 commended
- 11Small SUV of the YearThe Citroen C3 Aircross is the 2019 Auto Express Small SUV of the Year, with the Dacia Duster and Volkswagen T-Cross commended
- 12Mid-size SUV of the YearThe Skoda Karoq is the 2019 Auto Express Mid-size SUV of the Year with the Peugeot 3008 and Toyota RAV4 commended
- 13Large SUV of the YearThe SEAT Tarraco is the 2019 Auto Express Large SUV of the Year, with the Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq commended
- 14Small Premium SUV of the YearThe Range Rover Evoque is the 2019 Auto Express Small Premium SUV of the Year, with the Audi Q3 and Lexus UX commended
- 15Mid-size Premium SUV of the YearThe BMW X3 is the 2019 Auto Express Premium Mid-size SUV of the Year, with the Porsche Macan and Volvo XC60 commended