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Hot Hatch of the Year 2023: Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R is the 2023 Auto Express Hot Hatch of the Year, with the Hyundai i20 N and Mercedes-AMG A 45 S commended

How do you improve on perfection? If you’re Honda’s engineers, you take the old FK8 Civic Type R and tweak it a little in almost every area. The result is the all-new FL5, which takes our Hot Hatch crown at a canter.

Being based on the new 11th-generation Civic means the Type R is a sleeker and more subtle choice than before, yet its lowered ride height, large bonnet vent and raised rear spoiler leave its performance potential clear to see. Inside, there are bucket seats, a metal-topped gear lever and lots of red trim.

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But it’s how the Civic drives that makes it such a deserving winner. The quick steering and limpet-like grip let you place it with laser-guided accuracy, while the perfectly balanced handling allows you to subtly adjust your line through a corner with a lift or squeeze of the throttle. Few pocket rockets are as involving or entertaining as this banzai Japanese hatchback.

Elsewhere, the beautifully judged damping combines cast-iron control with real comfort, while the deliciously slick six-speed manual transmission encourages you to change gears just for fun. Then there’s the revised 326bhp 2.0-litre motor, which blends muscular turbocharged torque with Honda’s VTEC engines’ famed appetite for high revs to deliver a scorching 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds.

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And of course, the Civic serves up these incredible thrills while also doubling up as a sensible family hatchback. You get plenty of space, a big boot and an interior that boasts real premium appeal, with its slick design, high-grade materials and cutting-edge tech.

So just how good is the Honda? Well, we reckon if Porsche ever built an affordable five-door family hatchback, then it might just drive with the same sophisticated and expensively engineered feel as the Type R. Praise doesn’t come any higher than that.

Our choice

Honda Civic Type R (£49,090)

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If there’s a fly in the ointment, it’s the fact the Honda costs an eye-watering £49,090, which is nearly £15,000 more than the old car. However, with limited numbers coming to the UK and the brand’s hint that this could be the last of the pure-ICE Type Rs, the Civic is already a guaranteed future classic.

Commended

Hyundai i20 N

It’s only the brilliance of the Civic Type R that knocks the excellent i20 N off its place at the top of the podium. Its compact dimensions and acrobatic handling make it a real hoot on twisty roads, while its 201bhp 1.6-litre motor delivers a heavyweight punch. It’s as practical and cost-effective to run as a standard i20, too.

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Mercedes-AMG A 45 S

When it comes to ultimate hot-hatch bragging rights, few rivals can match the A 45 S. Packing an incredible 415bhp and a four-wheel drive system, the Merc has supercar-slaying performance and handling. Yet it also boasts one of the classiest interiors in the business and is packed with brilliant tech.

You’ll find all the information on our New Car Awards 2023 winners and the reasons why we chose them on these pages. Just follow the links below to read more…

New Car Awards 2023: the winners

Special edition of Auto Express

Auto Express Issue 1,787

For the full New Car Awards experience, make sure you pick up a copy of our special 2023 New Car Awards collectors' edition of the Auto Express magazine, which is available in shops now.

You can buy individual issues of Auto Express or subscribe for even bigger discounts on the print magazine cover price. You can currently subscribe or download individual issues of our digital edition direct to your desktop, phone or tablet as well.

Stay right up to date with the latest from the world of cars in 2023 and beyond, subscribe to our email newsletter and follow us on social media...

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