TO many the Honda Civic Type R has always been the ultimate hot-hatch with a reputation for blistering performance and razor sharp handling.
Through nine generations of Civic, four have been given the Type R treatment and although the current one hasn't actually been around that long, it's likely the next incarnation will arrive later this year following the rollout of Civic number ten.
The current Type R is not the kind of car to be ignored, its dramatic and arguably downright brash styling might not be to all tastes but there's something about it that is strangely appealing and alluring in equal measure.
Many aspects of that styling are of course an integral part of creating what Honda calls a ‘race car for the road'.
At the front there's a front bumper featuring an array of scoops and cooling ducts.
Moving along the car there are flared wheel arches and 19-inch alloy wheels, quad exhausts and a diffuser-style rear bumper.
Perhaps the defining feature though is a massive rear wing aerofoil - something one of my colleagues compared to an ironing board.
It has been specially designed to maximise downforce on the rear axle without causing to much of an increase in drag at higher speeds.
All combine to create a vehicle that will certainly be the focus of attention wherever you go.
The latest Type R represents of big change in that it's powered by a turbo-charged rather than a naturally aspirated engine - a 2.0-litre VTEC unit producing 306bhp
It offers enhanced performance and an undoubted hike in sheer power, even if it departs somewhat from the traditional Type R feel and character.
On the inside the sporty theme is continued, the stand-out feature being a pair of superbly sculpted sports seats which are figure-hugging and comfortable in equal measure.
Rear seat passengers aren't ignored either, there are two spacious enough seats in the rear and given its hatchback layout the Type R even scores well for practicality with a 498-litre boot.
The instrument panel has many features which are clearly suited to a track day experience, prominent among them a ‘+R' button engaging a mode that takes performance to the max, by boosting the engine response and increasing the damping.
Truth be told it really is probably best reserved for a track experience as it really is just a little too much for conventional roads. Great fun though if you're alone on a bit of open road with some challenging twists and turns.
Three versions of the current Type R are available, a standard (not that there's anything really standard about it) model, a special Black Edition rollout version and this model, the GT.
All come pretty well equipped, the standard version offering climate control, keyless entry, a parking camera (pretty essential due to that rear wing), cruise control, Bluetooth, stop/start and LED headlights.
To drive the Civic Type R really is great fun, offering a genuine flavour of supercar performance at an altogether more affordable price.
Honda's engineers have excelled in delivering a thrilling driving experience, delivered through a series of advanced systems.
They include a specially developed Adaptive Damper System, which sees each wheel controlled individually.
It's an innovative and effective feature that sees the Type R hold the road exceptionally well and also enhances ride quality.
Sure, the Type R has a ride that is essentially hard - as it should be - and it's harder still with that +R button engaged.