Honda and VW push small-car performance to the max in two practical compacts that are full of surprises.
Volkswagen created the hot-hatch genre in 1976 when it spiced-up a Golf hatchback and named it the GTI. There have been many competitors since, but the 288-hp 2019 Volkswagen Golf R and 306-hp 2019 Honda Civic Type R take that time-tested formula to another level as the most potent of their kind currently on sale in the United States, with lofty prices that reflect their added capabilities. As thrilling yet practical performers, they are natural rivals. To find out which has the sharpest teeth and is the easiest to live with, we aimed them both down the road and hit the test track—and discovered a host of surprising things about them along the way.
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