HOT-HATCH DEBATE

LETTER OF THE MONTH

Peter Steele, via Email

AS A regular reader of MOTOR for more than 50 years, I only occasionally put pen to paper. As someone who has also owned more than 50 cars so far in my life, you could say Iím a car tragic. Included in that number has been eight Hondas and an assortment of mainly German cars. Sadly, two Alfas got in there somewhere Ė just to add some spice.

However, I digress. I read with much interest the comparison between the Civic Type R and the Volkswagen Golf GTI. My wife currently drives an Mk7 GTI Performance, a very hard car to fault I must say, without bias.

I always try to take a neutral position when reading comparisons as itís always interesting to see a manufacturer raising the bar. But in your comparison, I see two rather dissimilar vehicles. One is a svelte, sleek, beautifully proportioned German car that possess excellent performance and a level of sophistication and ride quality that is at complete odds with the teenage hot-rod image portrayed by the Honda.

Yes, the Honda may be a great weekend thrash, particularly around twisty mountain roads. And especially for those who are willing to risk a loss of licence whilst playing boy racer. Believe me, I used to love Hondas; a great driverís car, no doubt. But who is going to spend much time driving on the limit in these cars today, if you can even find a place to do it?

To top it off, the Honda looks like it was thrown together with a shovel, with that ungainly piece of scaffolding attached to the rear bootlid. Ugly doesnít even come close.

No, for my money, the Japanese are still yet to master the art of subtlety in this segment.

Too much reliance on add-ons and trappings of crassness. Your photograph of the two cars side by side says it all.

As a car to own and enjoy in a variety of daily driving situations the Golf GTI is still the master of this segment, capturing refinement, looks, sophistication and just the right level of performance that fits in this price category.

Completely agree, Peter, the VW GTI Performance is an exceptional all-round hot hatch, as is the facelifted Mk7.5, but frankly in terms of performance driving the Honda is in another league, while retaining excellent ride quality. The styling is undoubtedly an acquired taste, but we can only judge cars on the driving and let you make up your own mind on the looks.