Honda Civic Type R Ford Focus RS Mountune 400
YOU’D THINK, on first appearance, that the best thing about driving the Civic Type R is that you don’t have to look at it. Such an ugly baby its mother used to feed it with a catapult, the poor thing’s been augmented to within an inch of its life. Even the interior seems to have lost much of the Civic mojo of yore.
Happily, however, while Honda’s design department continues to flirt with the damp squib philosophy, its engineers have simply lit the blue touch-paper and retired to a safe distance. Climb aboard and the ergonomics make it abundantly clear this machine exists for one reason only: to inhale the scenery with breathtaking speed and precision. Within 50 yards, the meaty steering, lovely short-throw gearchange and perfect pedal weights are all simply taken for granted, leaving you free to enjoy the car’s wonderful poise, agility and outstanding levels of grip, even in the (very) wet. Torque steer? Nope. Turbo lag? You should be way too far up the rev-range to care. Purity of purpose personified, though fans of a more rounded hot hatch remit still cling to their BMW M140i… or the Ford Focus RS. Our reigning hot-hatch champion isn’t new, but Mountune’s take on the all-wheel-drive weapon is, and the firm’s track record with the Fiesta ST is flawless. The graphite black-wrapped M400 has 78bhp and 118lb ft of torque on the Civic and, of course, four driven wheels.
In last year’s encounter the Focus RS impressed hugely with its playful, rear-drive dynamics, mighty pace and remarkable all-weather confidence. Drift mode might be a gimmick but there’s nothing gimmicky about a hot hatch that corners like a Mitsubishi Evo, all cocked rear axle and from-the-apex full throttle. The M400 adds stacks of power while retaining empowering agility, towering grip and a sense of mischief that makes you smile every time you fire the thing up.
Two very different takes on the timeless hot hatch recipe; the rapier versus the rocketship. Should be fun.
Torque steer? Nope. Turbo lag? You should be way too far up the Honda’s rev-range to care…
They could at least agree on turbo four-pots and very silly rear wings