IT'S been around for a couple of decades now. The shape may have changed, the power has increased but the recipe has remained constant.
The Honda Civic Type R has always been a no-nonsense, seat-of-your-pants drive for the owner who puts performance and handling above creature comforts.
Except now that formula has been slightly tweaked, allowing the Japanese answer to the GTi to have a slightly wider audience.
Instead of a ride that's harsh enough to rattle the fillings in your teeth, the fourth generation model has discovered a new compliance that means it is actually comfortable over decent surfaces and much more tolerant of Britain's pock-marked and scarred roads.
It couldn't be accused of ‘going soft' because the damping remains resolutely firm with negligible body roll. Of course, if you lust after iron-man harshness throw the toggle switch on the transmission tunnel out of comfort and into Sport and you'll enjoy - if that's the right word - a serious stiffening of the suspension. The +R mode takes things a final step further but is recommended for mainly track use.
So there's little mistaking the Type R's intent. With huge tail spoiler, side skirts and a deep front air dam complete with gaping air intakes it shouts its performance message loud and clear. And with 316bhp available from the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine the promise is fulfilled in spades.
Just to put things in perspective, it will hit 100mph in little more than 12 seconds, passing 62mph in just 5.7 seconds. Top speed is given at 169mph. A few years back, this would have been supercar territory. And even today, it will give a Porsche Boxster a good run for its money, despite being the best part of £20,000 cheaper.
Unlike most rivals with similar or greater power, the Honda is engineered with front drive alone. Despite the lack of all-wheel drive it's easy to get away from the line smoothly and there's little sign of steering-tug accelerating hard out of bends.
Typically Honda, the VTEC engine is a high-revver with the red line set at 7,200rpm. The power is constant and relentless with ample torque and a smooth flow of acceleration throughout the delivery. A tiny gear lever operates the short-throw six-speed box and is a pleasure to use as the engine spins through a symphony of sound.
Steering, though obviously power assisted, is relatively heavy yet rewardingly precise. There's not a huge amount of road feel though. And it pays when cornering fast to watch out for cursed potholes - it's too easy to clip one and damage both the 45 profile tyres and those smart 20-inch alloys.
Despite its huge driver appeal, the Type R is an immensely practical hatch. The boot is family-sized being capable of carrying 420 litres of luggage and there's genuinely enough room for four full-size adults in the comfortable cabin. Those in the front are accommodated in figure-hugging sports seats.
Considering the abundant power, fuel consumption of close to 30mpg in normal running is pretty good.
The GT version tested costs a couple of grand more but the spec includes dual zone air con, sat nav, better audio system and LED front fog lights.