With 306bhp, Honda’s latest Civic Type R – a sensible, spacious family hatchback – is comfortably more powerful than the NSX it dwarfs, and its 167mph top speed falls just 1mph shy of a car that worried Ferraris in the early 1990s. It's hard not to be impressed by the progress.
Perhaps its placement adjacent to the NSX is unflattering – the new hatch looks enormous, bulky, more than a little fussy and thanks to its aerodynamic addenda, and rather under-wheeled next to the pert sports car.
Subscribe to evo magazine
Not that the owners really noticed. Surrounded by existing Type R drivers throughout the day, its impact speaks for itself. It looks aggressive, purposeful and squat, ready to set another class-leading Nurburgring lap time. Anyway, all cars have grown in recent years, and few will cross-shop a modern hot hatch with a decades-old sports car.
Any real comparison is unfair, though man-maths won't let us forget that used examples of the NSX still fall within the new Civic's sticker price.
The questions from assembled Type R fans barely stopped. How fast? 167mph, and 62mph in 5.7 seconds from rest. How much power? 306bhp. Torque? 295lb ft, about 50 per cent more than the last two Civic Rs, produced at 2500rpm – less than half the revs of peak torque in the older models. Differential? Honda is being cagey. Suspension? Dual-axis struts up front and a revised torsion bar at the rear. Gearbox? Manual, remarkably – no dual-clutch auto is confirmed. You can read more about the car in our full guide.
Reception seems generally positive, though. The progress over the NSX is expected. The progress over the car's rivals from Renault, SEAT, Ford and more is what will really count, and Type R owners are a loyal bunch.
Where the car may falter is in owners' desire to personalise their cars. The new Type R certainly seems less well suited to such personalisation. It already wears a deep, distinctive body kit. There’s room for a set of arch-filling wheels (literally and metaphorically), but we're not convinced on the effect of such large rims on handling. And while turbocharged engines are certainly ripe for upgrades, will the front wheels take more than the standard 306bhp?