2017 Civic type R vs other hot hatchbacks: The agony of choice.

Photo courtesy of Motor Trend:

This is of course a purely theoretical exercise. For one, I don’t have the money to buy any of these cars brand new or second hand (in the future). But since the Civic launch was highly anticipated here in the Philippines I figured, what the heck. IF I was getting a hot hatch, which will I buy?

The contenders:

1. Ford Focus RS  
- 350 hp

2. Honda Civic Type R
- FF
- 306 hp

3. Subaru WRX STi
- 305 hp

4. Volkswagen Golf R
- 292 hp

There are a lot of road tests by people better qualified than myself so I won’t even pretend to try road testing them. So any evaluation made here is purely based on my subjective observations and conclusions.

First, I do like Hondas. I own a CRV which I love and will probably keep forever. I was one of those who were salivating when the Civic SiR first came out.  

The Subaru has long been on my want list and was one of my favorite cars in Gran Turismo. The Volkswagen Golf has been around for a much longer time and I always found it intriguing because it was always highly rated. Then it was also one of my best cars for its class in Gran Turismo which only added to my curiosity. 

The Focus is the one that I know the least about but it was on my want list before when the diesel came out. When I started seeing several versions puffing clouds of black smoke on the road, it was promptly taken off the list. Then I watched Top Gear test the Focus, and I watched it in WRC so it went back on my list.

So based on all the above, clearly the cars are in a sort of range where there are no clear runaway winners EXCEPT for horsepower where the Focus clearly dominates the field.

Without much ado, let me say that the Focus would be my choice in this segment, but not just because it has the most power. OK, ok that has a lot to do about it, but its that combined with a racing heritage and the AWD setup. With this much power on tap I will demand four wheel drive. Personally, I find this a grave omission in the Honda given its price.  

Then there is the styling. The Civic looks so aggressive, albeit a little too much for my taste. On the other hand, the Golf is perhaps the most subtle. The Focus and Impreza fall in the middle, though the Focus is more restrained and for me, it’s the best of both worlds. It has a look that hints of extreme power, a hint that is validated in reality. Personally, I love the concept of Q-ships, cars that look plain but are actually fire breathing behemoths. This is also why I favor turbocharged vehicles, for their relative lack of noise.

There you have it. If I had the money, and all these cars are available here, then I would buy the Ford Focus RS without hesitation.

The problem though is that we probably won’t be having the RS version of the Focus here so if I had the 2.8M in my pocket I would probably opt for a second hand (5 year old) Volvo S60 T6 with all wheel drive and 310 horsepower. It would cost about 2M and I can spend the 800K on Polestar items and bring the horsepower up to about 362. Sure it won’t be a hatchback but it’s a sports sedan on steroids that can run with all of these hot hatchbacks.

Volvo S60 Polestar

One last note though is that if the Civic will be brought here, it would be competing head on with 2 year old Mustangs and Camaros. That’s a pretty tall order and one which I will cover next time. 


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