It does everything well. But has one major flaw.
If you want the ultimate hot hatchback and live in the United States, there are currently two vehicles that you should consider. The 2020 Hyundai Veloster N and the 2020 Honda Civic Type R. The Veloster is an excellent car, but if you want the best-performing hatchback available, it's the more powerful, Nurburgring record-holding Type R.
The tenth-generation Civic Type R has been around since 2017, but Honda recently updated it for the 2020 model year, including an outrageous new color called Boost Blue. CarBuzz was sent a 2020 Type R in that exact color and after a week with the car, we've come up with four reasons why this is the ultimate hot hatchback and just one flaw that Honda should fix with the next-generation model.
Some may object to the current generation Civic's aggressive styling, which is taken to the extreme with the Type R model. We say life is too short to drive a boring car, so why not drive one with massive scoops, a huge wing, red accents, and eye-grabbing blue paint? Yes, not all of the scoops and aero pieces are strictly necessary to make the Type R go any faster, but they do add to the "look at me vibe" and help make a statement when you arrive at a car show or at the supermarket.
Like the exterior, the Type R's cabin is aggressive. This race-ready interior features red bucket seats with massive side bolsters, which hug the driver and passenger like an overbearing grandmother during hard cornering. Seats asides, the cabin is highly functional with a massive center console featuring well-placed cupholders, automatic climate control, and a seven-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Since the Type R rides on adaptive dampers, it's far more comfortable than its hardcore exterior would imply. The Comfort Mode sets the suspension to soak up bumps while Sport and +R mode sharpen the dampers to keep the car flat through corners.
The Type R may be the highest-performing version of the Civic, but it is still a practical vehicle. The rear seats of the Civic hatchback are less roomy than the sedan, but the trunk is much larger. It offers 25.7 cubic feet of space behind the back seats, which opens to a spacious 46.2 cubic feet with the seats folded. Compared to the sedan, which only offers 15.1 cubic feet, the hatchback is great for hauling bulky items.
Fuel economy is pretty great too. Honda says the Type R will get 22/28/25 mpg city/highway/combined, but on the highway, we saw over 30 mpg consistently. If you drive the Type R hard, though, your fuel economy will suffer.
Powering the Type R is a glorious 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder VTEC engine good for 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission choice, sending power to the front wheels only. This may sound like a disadvantage compared to all-wheel-drive, but the Type R puts power down better than any front-wheel-drive car we've ever tested with virtually zero torque steer. The Type R is a car that will make FWD critics see the light. Having one of the slickest manual transmissions on the market also helps the Type R feel like a hard-edged driving weapon.
We have only one complaint about this drivetrain - the exhaust sound. Out back, three massive exhaust tips hint at a soundtrack befitting of a car with such a massive wing and wacky styling. Sadly, the Type R barely sounds louder than a normal Civic (at least on the outside). For the 2020 model year, the Type R features Active Sound Control, which pumps fake engine sound through the speakers. It sounds ok when you are inside the car, but a car that looks like this should have a much louder exhaust.