Hot Hatch of the Year 2017: Honda Civic Type R
The Honda Civic Type R is the 2017 Auto Express Hot Hatch of the Year, with the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf GTI commended
The hot hatch class is one of the most varied and competitive out there, but as some rivals have moved to four-wheel drive and dual-clutch transmissions, Honda has stuck with old-fashioned front-wheel drive and a manual box – and it has served the new Civic Type R very well.
The car has already smashed the lap record for a front-wheel-drive production model at the Nürburgring race track in Germany, and at £30,995 it’s a bit of a bargain.
Unlike some competitors, the Type R has no clever tricks up its sleeve such as a drift mode; it simply has to rely on first-class engineering to make it as exciting and entertaining as a hot hatch can be. It’s based on a new chassis, has a more sophisticated suspension set-up and features adaptive dampers, including a Comfort mode, for the first time. All that makes the Type R more usable when you need it to be without affecting the car’s wild side when you want it.
The front wheels have no trouble delivering the 2.0-litre turbo’s mammoth 316bhp and 400Nm of torque to the road. Get off the line quickly and Honda says it takes 5.8 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph, but what makes the Civic the hot hatch of the moment is its unflinching appetite for corners.
You can dive into bends with what feels like too much speed, but the Type R’s front end bites into the road and slingshots you round with the rampant power of the engine firing you on to the next turn. Snatching gears with the wonderful, mechanically precise six-speed manual box is nothing short of addictive, with the rorty exhaust blaring in the background.
But the Type R is just as competent at carrying a family and all their luggage as it is attacking a B-road. The 420-litre boot is one of the class’s biggest, while the spacious rear can comfortably seat two adults.
The styling won’t be to all tastes, but together with the incredible performance, this practicality matched to the new-found levels of comfort signals the Civic Type R’s coming of age.
Honda Civic Type R GT (£32,995)
The Type R comes in two specs: an entry-level model, priced from £30,995, and a higher-spec GT version that adds £2,000 to the cost. The latter brings additional kit such as dual-zone climate control, Garmin navigation and all-round parking sensors. We think the GT is well worth the premium as the extra equipment makes the Honda hot hatch easier to live with every day.
Ford Focus RS
Last year’s winner remains an electrifying hot hatch, and it continues to offer tech and performance for a reasonable price. Fantastic four-wheel-drive traction, blistering speed and that famous RS badge on the boot (not to mention the trick Drift mode) make the Focus a car to be taken seriously.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The original hot hatch has stayed faithful to the same front-wheel-drive layout for decades, but a recent facelift hasn’t proven enough to topple the Type R. The Golf GTI lacks the intensity of the Honda and the pace of the Focus RS, although it’s the most rounded and usable choice in this class.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2017
For complete, in-depth coverage of the 2017 New Car Awards, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...
- 1IntroductionWhat are the best new cars to buy in the UK right now? The 2017 Auto Express New Car Awards reveal all...
- 2Car of the Year 2017The Auto Express Car of the Year for 2017 is the Land Rover Discovery
- 3City Car of the Year 2017The Volkswagen up! is the 2017 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Kia Picanto and Skoda Citigo commended
- 4Supermini of the Year 2017The SEAT Ibiza is the 2017 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the Citroen C3 and Skoda Fabia commended
- 5Compact Family Car of the Year 2017The Volkswagen Golf is the 2017 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Octavia and Vauxhall Astra commended
- 6Family Car of the Year 2017The Skoda Superb is the 2017 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Toyota Prius and Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport commended
- 7Estate Car of the Year 2017The Skoda Octavia Estate is the 2017 Auto Express Estate Car of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series Touring and Skoda Superb Estate commended
- 8MPV of the Year 2017The Citroen Grand Grand C4 Picasso is the 2017 Auto Express MPV of the Year, with the Renault Grand Scenic and SEAT Alhambra commended
- 9Small SUV of the Year 2017The Citroen C4 Cactus is the 2017 Auto Express Small SUV of the Year, with the Dacia Duster and Peugeot 2008 commended
- 10Mid-size SUV of the Year 2017The Peugeot 3008 is the 2017 Auto Express Mid-size SUV of the Year, with the Mazda CX-5 and SEAT Ateca commended
- 11Large SUV of the Year 2017The Skoda Kodiaq is the 2017 Auto Express Large SUV of the Year, with the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento commended
- 12Premium SUV of the Year 2017The Volvo XC60 is the 2017 Auto Express Premium SUV of the Year, with the Jaguar F-Pace and Mercedes GLC commended
- 13Large Premium SUV of the Year 2017The Land Rover Discovery is the 2017 Auto Express Large Premium SUV of the Year, with the Tesla Model X and Volvo XC90 commended
- 14Pick-up of the Year 2017The Mitsubishi L200 is the 2017 Auto Express Pick-up of the Year, with the Fiat Fullback and Nissan Navara commended
- 15Hot Hatch of the Year 2017 - currently readingThe Honda Civic Type R is the 2017 Auto Express Hot Hatch of the Year, with the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf GTI commended
- 16Convertible of the Year 2017The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is the 2017 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A3 Cabriolet and MINI Convertible commended
- 17Coupe of the Year 2017The Audi A5 is the 2017 Auto Express Coupe of the Year, with the Audi TT and Porsche 718 Cayman commended
- 18Roadster of the Year 2017The Mazda MX-5 RF is the 2017 Auto Express Roadster of the Year, with the Fiat 124 Spider and Porsche 718 Boxster commended
- 19Performance Car of the Year 2017The Porsche 911 GT3 is the 2017 Auto Express Performance Car of the Year, with the Ferrari 488 GTB and McLaren 720S commended
- 20Compact Executive Car of the Year 2017The Jaguar XE is the 2017 Auto Express Compact Executive Car of the Year, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and BMW 3 Series commended
- 21Executive Car of the Year 2017The BMW 5 Series is the 2017 Auto Express Executive Car of the Year, with the Mercedes E-Class and Tesla Model S commended
- 22Luxury Car of the Year 2017The Mercedes S-Class is the 2017 Auto Express Luxury Car of the Year, with the Bentley Mulsanne and Porsche Panamera commended
- 23Van of the Year 2017The Volkswagen Crafter is the 2017 Auto Express Van of the Year, with the Ford Transit and Peugeot Expert commended
- 24Electric car of the Year 2017The BMW i3 is the 2017 Auto Express Electric Car of the Year, with the Renault ZOE and Tesla Model S commended
- 25Technology Award 2017BMW wins the Auto Express 2017 Technology Award with its range of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles and semi-autonomous systems
- 26Car Advertising Campaign of the Year 2017Skoda's 'Driven by Something Different' advert for the new Kodiaq has won the 2017 integrated advertising campaign award
- 27Social Media Campaign of the Year 2017BMW's 'Genius - Live' has won the 2017 Social Media Campaign of the Year
- 28Design Award 2017We asked you what your favourite car design is for 2017, and the Jaguar I-Pace Concept has taken the crown
- 29Driver Power Award 2017Lexus scoops the 2017 Driver Power Award after taking the customer satisfaction survey by storm this year