2023 Honda Civic Type R vs. Toyota GR Corolla and VW Golf R: Hot Hatch Specs Compared
Here's how Honda's new hot hatch stacks up against its closest foes.
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Compact hot hatches might not be as thick on the ground as they once were, but the
Honda Civic Type R
definitely isn't the only game in town. So following Wednesday's announcement of the US-spec Civic Type R, we thought we'd take a look at how it stacks up to its closest rivals: the Toyota GR Corolla and
Volkswagen Golf R
These three hatchbacks are pretty evenly matched, but before we kick off, there's something important to note. Volkswagen offers two transmission options in the Golf R, and the output numbers are slightly different for both. To keep things fair in this comparison, we're going to focus on the manual transmission Golf R, but we'll point out the other specs, too. Let's go.
A small, turbocharged engine is a quintessential part of the hot hatch formula. Honda and VW rely on four-pot engines, but Toyota comes to the fight with a boosted triple. The power numbers are pretty similar for our contenders, and all three cars offer a six-speed manual transmission. However, while the Civic relies on front-wheel drive, the Corolla and Golf R up their games with standard all-wheel-drive systems.
Here's where the Golf R's other big discrepancy makes itself known. In addition to the six-speed manual, VW offers a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and the DCT actually comes with a slightly more powerful engine tune. The numbers below are for the manual VW, but if you spec the DCT, the Golf R produces 295 pound-feet of torque instead of 280.
Civic Type R
2.0L turbo I4
1.6L turbo I3
2.0L turbo I4
These three compact hatchbacks might strike similar silhouettes, but there are actually quite a few differences. The Civic is the largest of the bunch, with a wheelbase that's about 4 inches longer than that of the Golf. The upright VW is the tallest of the trio, but the Civic still boasts more room for passengers. Honda has yet to release the Civic Type R's final weight, but Toyota has a roughly 150-pound advantage over the Golf R, despite both cars having all-wheel-drive systems.
Civic Type R
Infotainment and safety tech
Across the board, these cars are pretty evenly matched as far as tech is concerned. All three have digital gauge clusters (Honda: 10.2 inches, Toyota: 12.3 inches, Volkswagen: 10.3 inches) and come standard with central touchscreens to control the multimedia system (Honda: 9 inches, Toyota: 8 inches, Volkswagen: 10 inches).
Driver-assistance features are in high supply for all three, as well, with each getting their respective automaker's latest and greatest suite of technologies. That means no matter which hot hatch you choose, you'll get things like forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control standard. Of course, the only car to offer true full-speed adaptive cruise control is the Golf R, but that's only because it can be equipped with an automatic transmission.
2023 Toyota GR Corolla debuts alongside limited-run Circuit Edition
We don't yet have pricing information for the Honda Civic Type R, which is expected to arrive at dealers this fall. That said, we'd be shocked if it turned out to be more expensive than the Golf, with pricing likely starting at or just below $40,000.