The super minis market has changed a lot over the past few years. Last decade, it was all about squeezing as much performance out of hatchbacks as possible. We saw the introduction of ludicrously powerful cars, to borrow an adverb from Tesla. VW mesmerized young drivers everywhere with the introduction of the R32 models. And Ford began marketing their ST branded Fiestas.
But over the last few years, we’ve seen a trend away from the hot hatch and back to something a lot more sensible. Modern hatchbacks are the very model of refinement, reflecting the tastes of their target market. And they’ve come a long way since their adolescence.
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Well, that was the case until Honda launched its new 2016 Civic-R. The latest Civic-R is perhaps the most aggressively styled Civic to date. Customers can choose from a range of styles. But the most popular is undoubtedly red and black trim. It’s hard to imagine anything more menacing or better performing in a wind tunnel. The body kit on the car is, to put it bluntly, out of control. The rear exhausts are oversized, and the headlights make the car look like a Jurassic predator.
What Honda have done here is make hatchbacks exciting again. We needed something in the market that was truly groundbreaking and wayward to keep the sector from going stagnant. Early on in the car’s development, Honda decided that they wanted to include what is known as the R+ button. Like other sports cars, the button puts the car into race mode. Depressing it changes the characteristics of the car by removing some of the electronic stability.
Pushing the button turns the Civic-R into a beast while out on the track. All of a sudden, the car’s 306 bhp is without anything to control it.
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The Civic-R, however, isn’t just a Civic with a fancy paint job. It’s fundamentally a different type of car. The company claims that the body shell is some 18 percent more rigid while going around corners than the standard version. And that extra rigidity hasn’t been achieved by adding extra steel to the car’s frame. It’s been done by using frame adhesives more intelligently. The Civic-R also has better suspension at the front. It’s Dual Axis Strut suspension reduces torque steer by more than 55 percent.
Of course, all these extra make the Civic-R more expensive than your regular version. It’s retailing for around £30,000 on sites like www.harratts.co.uk. But you do get what you pay for.
The car is also fast around the track. It was able to conquer the Nurburgring in 7 minutes, 50 seconds and change. That makes it the fastest production hatchback ever according to www.topgear.com. Honda says that the car will blast you from 0 to 60 in around 5.7 seconds. It’ll do a top speed of 167 mph. And, amazingly, it comes with all the creature comforts modern drivers have come to love and expect. You’ll get Automatic Lights, parking sensors, sat nav and dual climate control with the GT pack. Not bad for a car with Tasmanian devil in its DNA.