We all know that the Volkswagen Golf GTi is the genuine and original hot hatch. Even back in the mk1 days of the 1970s, this was still the case.
No-one reading this blog will disagree with that fact! But, these days the market is full of hot hatches from various car marques.
One such example is the Honda Civic Type R. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll see something interesting. Thousands of people compare the CTR and the Golf GTi! A fact that saddens me is how more Golf owners are trading in their cars for the Civic.
I’ve often wondered why that is so I decided to go to the dark side. I spent some time driving around in a CTR just to find out its appeal to Golf owners. I’m not likely to give up my GTi anytime soon, but I can see why many others decide to do so.
Here’s why I think more of us are leaving the Volkswagen camp and getting welcomed by Honda:
People want some different with a lot of power
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a change now and then. I’ve done that myself, although I’ve always come back to Volkswagen! For some folks, they just get bored of their GTi models. Sure, they could upgrade to newer generations or even modify them. But, there’s only so much you can do before wanting a change.
The Honda Civic Type R offers plenty of horsepower. It’s the car for GTi owners looking for performance. Some might say it’s an upgrade; others may say it’s just a side-step. In any case, it’s a change of vehicle!
The Honda Civic Type R offers unrefined power
One thing every modern GTi owner will tell is how their cars are the epitome of refinement. Volkswagen no doubt spend a lot of time and money researching how to harness horsepower in a subtle form.
Over in Tokyo, Honda takes a different approach. They believe that horsepower should get offered to drivers in a raw and unrefined manner. It’s like comparing an orchestra (Golf) to a heavy metal concert (Civic)!
Having driven a CTR in the past, I can see the appeal of that raw horsepower to drivers. It sure does put a smile on your face while you’re driving! Yes, it’s possible to make the Golf GTi behave in the same way. But, that’s not something you get as standard – unlike the Civic Type R!
Better build quality
I’m sure that many people reading this blog will flame me. But, I need to speak about the elephant in the room, so to speak. German reliability isn’t what it used to be!
Both myself and others have encountered all kinds of mechanical issues with the GTi. Even with brand new models. Of course, one has to realise that cars like the Golf are mass-produced vehicles. No two models ever behave the same when they leave the factory.
Yes, that fact applies to the Honda Civic Type R as well. But, it seems the Japanese car maker builds more reliable cars. In my experience, they don’t over-engineer their vehicles like Volkswagen does. Things just seem simpler in the Civic.
I don’t think it’s down to the types of materials they use in their car. It’s more how they all fit together in such a big mechanical puzzle.
It’s not an automatic
One obvious fact about the Honda Civic Type R is that it has a six-speed manual gearbox. You’ll never see a dual-clutch auto transmission as standard. You can’t even opt for an automatic as an extra on the CTR!
Instead, Honda leaves that to other standard trims and models in their family. They believe that only manual gearboxes offer total control in a hot hatch. Yes, I’m aware you can get a six-speed manual in the Golf GTi as well.
But, many people go for the DSG option. It’s a practical gearbox, but it doesn’t always make sense with something you might race on the track.
They are cheaper to buy on the used car market
Compare the GTi and the CTR on the used car market and you’ll notice one thing. The Civic is cheaper to buy. Don’t believe me? That’s not to say the baby Honda has horrendous depreciation, of course.
If you want big horsepower on a small budget, many GTi lovers will buy a CTR. It’s as simple as that. There’s also the fact the Golf costs more to buy new if you take into account the 2.0 TSI prices.
It doesn’t have safe styling
Volkswagen maintains its safe and refined approach when it comes to vehicle styling too. The only outlandish thing you might see is the Golf GTi TCR. But, even that doesn’t look particularly scary.
The Honda Civic Type R offers something different here. It boasts typical Japanese styling but on steroids! Honda is no stranger to creating unconventional designs with some models. The current Civic generation is no exception.
It’s wide whereas the Golf is more narrow. It also got designed by someone that loves triangle shapes. The Golf’s designers just stuck with the mk3 design and restyled it a bit.
Let’s face it: many of us want a car that grabs people’s attention as it passes them by. What they don’t want is something that just blends into the background like most other cars. And that’s one of the reasons why they go for the Honda Civic Type R.
Is it wrong to want a Honda Civic Type R?
You might feel like you’re cheating on your significant other by wanting a CTR. Let me reassure you by saying there’s nothing wrong with such thoughts!
It’s worth bearing in mind that some buyers decide the CTR isn’t for them and go back to driving a GTi.
I recommend taking one out for a test drive and seeing how you feel behind the wheel of one. You could, of course, check some videos of them out on youtube.com. But, driving one “in real life” will help you decide once and for all. Good luck!