Honda Civic Type R Ford Fo­cus RS Moun­tune 400

CAR (UK) - - Sports Car Giant Test -

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

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