From the December 2021 subject of Automotive and Driver.
Simply in case you could not determine this out by yourself, the R in each the Civic Kind R and the Golf R stands for racing. It may additionally stand for revvy, speedy, and (surprisingly) refined. Oh, we have two extra: recurring rivals. The fiercest fish within the hatchback tank, the Kind R and the Golf R cannot be in the identical place with out a battle breaking out. Issues had been peaceable in 2020, as Volkswagen took a 12 months off from the Golf R. However as quickly because the 2022 eighth-gen Golf confirmed up, it was on like a nitrous bottle in a Quick & Livid film. (There, received that out of the best way. An F&F reference is legally required in any hot-hatch assessment.)
A redesigned Civic Kind R will come out in 2022, however since we have already waited greater than a 12 months to get these automobiles again within the ring, we did not need to delay. Final time we set these two at one another, the conclusion was nebulous, with each getting such excessive factors for efficiency and driving traits that selecting between them grew to become all about their divergent exteriors—the Civic’s origami aggression versus the Golf’s extra delicate angry-eyed egg. The shopping for choice principally got here right down to: How outdated are you, or how outdated would you like folks to suppose you’re? Coming into the rematch, we anticipated the same outcome. When two rivals are this intently aligned, just a few small user-experience particulars can lead to a victory.
Of their base varieties, the Civic Kind R has the sting in worth: $37,950 in contrast with the Golf R’s $44,640. We narrowed that hole significantly by selecting the track-focused Kind R Restricted Version, which needs to be known as the Kind RR, for racy race, or perhaps richy wealthy because it comes at a $45,010 value. Nonetheless, our Volkswagen went larger because it got here with the seven-speed dual-clutch computerized transmission—the one choice obtainable—bringing its value to $45,440.
Aside from the transmissions—the Kind R stays six-speed guide solely—the Volkswagen and Honda are comparable underneath the hood. Each make use of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a 7000-rpm redline and comparable horsepower and torque output. The Golf has a slight benefit, with 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque to the Civic’s 306 ponies and 295 pound-feet. However the all-wheel-drive Volkswagen can also be heavier, weighing in at 3360 kilos, 276 greater than the front-drive Honda. To be honest, the Restricted Version is Honda’s lightest Kind R, having dumped such frivolous gadgets as among the sound-deadening materials, the cargo cowl, and the rear windshield wiper in a quest to shave a claimed 46 kilos off the usual Kind R.
The Golf nonetheless has some luxuries the Civic would not supply, together with energy seats, heated rear seats, and a head-up show. However in the case of motion goodies like summer season efficiency tires (observe the Civic’s R-comp rubber), adaptive damping, adjustable drive modes, and big disc brakes, the 2 automobiles are nicely matched and growling at one another from throughout the car parking zone. Effectively, the Golf has a little bit of growl. The Civic’s well mannered exhaust observe feels out of character; perhaps Honda thought simply wanting loud was sufficient.
When accelerating in a straight line, the Golf R offers the Honda an excellent have a look at its new rear finish, shiny black diffuser, and 4 exhaust suggestions. With launch management and the grip of all 4 tires, the VW strikes out with out a trace of wheelspin and sprints to 60 mph in simply 3.9 seconds, hitting the quarter-mile in 12.5. The guide Kind R simply cannot put its energy down, requiring a mild feathering of the clutch to keep away from extreme wheelspin even on the rev-limited 3500 launch rpm. It takes 4.8 seconds of managing wheelspin to achieve 60 mph and 13.3 to finish the quarter-mile.
On the skidpad, the Civic’s track-focused Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires have the benefit over the Golf’s Pirelli P Zero PZ4s. The Kind R pulls 1.02 g’s to the Golf R’s 0.99 g. In braking, the 2 stopped from 70 mph in an equivalent 151 ft.
Numerically, this places the Golf within the lead, and subjectively, we would give it a greater grade within the appears division, too, if solely as a result of “completely inoffensive” appears higher than “you both love this otherwise you would not drive it in daylight.”
Regardless of once you drive them, the Volkswagen and the Honda are sweethearts on the highway. One would count on high-strung shenanigans and a tough trip on low-profile tires, however there’s none of that. The sharp steering and responsive braking that each get pleasure from on the monitor interprets to cheerful willingness on the road. The Volkswagen has traded a few of its unsmiling Audi-like maturity and refinement for ferocity. Considered one of our testers thought the Golf was borderline too stiff to commute in, however we predict he is simply getting outdated. The Civic is gracefully potent in each scenario. And regardless of its lion’s-mouth crimson inside, you may be as snug as a kitten. Even the rear seat is roomy, though it is very noisy again there at freeway speeds. Should you’re shopping for primarily based on how a lot stuff from Goal you’ll be able to cram in, it beats the Golf on cargo house. The large omnipresent wing within the rearview mirror is a key reminder that you simply’re in one thing sporty.
Anyway, the Civic wins. Wait, what? The Golf has a serious flaw, and it sits entrance and middle within the sprint. The brand new infotainment interface appears cool, a glassy display screen with an animated automotive and clickity haptic suggestions. However utilizing it’s like making an attempt to bake in a stranger’s kitchen. The place is every little thing? Why will not this drawer open? It is pointlessly complicated and irritating in a automotive that is all concerning the easy pleasures of driving. Additionally, for nearly as good because the dual-clutch computerized is at choosing and shifting gears, clicking the tiny nub of an computerized shifter is bodily unsatisfying, particularly when put up towards the Civic’s completely weighted clutch and easy-throw guide. Satisfaction throughout the driving expertise is the place the Honda has the sting on the Volkswagen. The Civic Kind R is aware of precisely what its mission is and delivers all it has promised, with just a few additional comforts thrown in. The Kind R will get an A.
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