2021 Honda Civic Type-R vs 2021 Hyundai Veloster N DCT
If you are a millennial and a “car guy”, you should remember hothatches were in their golden age in 1990s and there is a chance you were dreaming of having one. It was very attractive for younger demographic, as they offer performance, decent amount of practicality to hang out with friends, but most importantly they were affordable.
Today, like most other things, cars are far from being affordable especially for younger people. Though today’s modern hothatches became much more capable and serious, they can still offer great bang for the buck. This week, we have two of the most popular hothatchbacks – 2021 Honda Civic Type-R and 2021 Hyundai Veloster N DCT.
Let’s get right into the technical details, and at first glance they have typical hothatch drivetrain style. Both cars come with 2.0 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engines. The Civic Type-R comes only with manual, but Hyundai recently started to offer Veloster N with 8-Speed Dual Clutch Automatic transmission, they also offer manual transmission version.
Honda’s 2.0 turbo engine produces 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque that is matched with short ratio 6 speed manual transmission. Hyundai’s 2.0 liter turbo engine produces a little bit less horsepower (275 hp) and 260 lb-ft of torque. DCT versions offer overboost feature that increases torque to 278 lb-ft for 20 seconds. Either way, Honda’s engine pulls harder at every rpm and every gear.
Daily driving both cars are pretty comfortable experience, though Type-R’s suspension feels more compliant than the Veloster N. It feels slightly softer than Veloster N’s suspension, but at the same time there is less body roll. It’s truly magical how good the Type-R’s suspension feels in almost every road and driving style.
The Type-R also comes with mechanical limited slip differential and it works quite efficiently, it reduces understeering quite a bit. Although, it cannot eliminate it completely, but so as the Veloster N. Both cars are very capable on twisties and they offer insane amount of grip. The Type-R has the edge in terms of overall handling, but you have to be way over the speed limit to see a difference.
Veloster N’s suspension is still very good, just not as good as the Type-R. When you switch it to the N mode, or also called the “Race” mode, it is quite stiff for daily driving. Unlike the Type-R, it comes with electro-hydraulic limited slip differential system that can be adjusted through the infotainment system. Both cars have absolutely no body roll at the firmest suspension setting.
Let’s talk about the looks. Both cars have significant changes compared to their regular versions. Civic Type-R has a very controversial design language with a lot of sharp body lines, lots of vents in many different areas in the front, it almost looks like a cartoonish for a middle-aged man. Honda claims the rear wing is functional for better handling, but the way that it looks is too aggressive as a daily rider.
Things are much more subtle on the Hyundai front, with much less fake vents and smaller rear wing. Veloster is known as having a unique body type, as it has 3 actual doors, 2 on the passenger side and 1 on the driver’s side. It’s actually a coupe from the left, and a hatchback from the right side. Aside from the rear wing, N version has different rims, bumpers and side skirts.
Hyundai decided to take the traditional step with having two exhaust tips on each side, whereas the Type-R comes with unique 3 exhaust tips located in the middle. Both cars have sporty bumpers with diffusers and aggressive body lines all around them, but Type-R is for people wants to draw attention whereas only car guys will know that Veloster N is a special car.
Typical hothatch fashion, the interior design of both vehicles keep same looks compared to their regular versions, but they changed few important things to make them look special and feel sporty. For instance, both cars have sporty seats with tons of side bolstering, special steering wheels, and gauges.
Let’s start with the Civic interior. This generation is getting old and the interior start to feel dated, but it is still very usable day-to-day basis. All important features have physical buttons and console layout is not different than any other Honda from 2015 era. Honda changed few things in the interior, but it was a very mild update.
Probably the biggest flaw of the Civic Type-R is the infotainment system, probably the biggest indicator of the age of this platform. It is laggy, the screen quality isn’t great, or the camera resolution isn’t the best. The good thing is, digital gauge has no input lag and it gives you a lot of information.
The infotainment problem gets more pronounced especially after using Veloster N’s infotainment system. Though it does not come with a big screen, the infotainment system is so much better, smooth, and user friendly. The camera resolution is also great, and the infotainment system gives you a lot of performance oriented information which is not available with the Type-R.
Civic Type-R shines overall legroom and material choice. Veloster N’s interior has nothing but rock hard plastics, it shows you that it is a budget oriented performance car whereas Honda used different types of materials in the Civic Type-R’s cabin, you get much more soft touch plastics, and the interior feels more expensive.
Having said that, Veloster N offers surprisingly good amount of rear legroom, considering it is much smaller than the Civic from the outside. However, having a unique body style with only 3 doors makes it less practical. It also has significantly less amount of cargo space compared to the Civic, which is one of the best in its segment.
Speaking of the interior space, we have to talk about the seats. Honda Civic Type-R comes with special bucket seats with the Type-R logo, but there is no heating or cooling option. It has tons of side bolstering, and for larger adults it may be a problem as the bolstering may be too much if you are overweight.
Veloster N’s front seats are much more comfortable than the Type-R, and they also come with illuminated N logos. They only come with manual adjustment, but unlike the Honda they come with heating option. Veloster N’s seats were a better fit for my body type for daily driving.
As a hothatch fan, and as a person who have been driving different types of hothatches for more than a decade, here is my verdict. Despite its age, Honda Civic Type-R is the best hothatch available on the market, if you can find one. However, compared to older generation Type-Rs, it just lacks the drama factor that makes the Type-R traditionally unique and fun.
There is no doubt that this is the best Type-R ever, at least on paper. It is the fastest one, it has tons of grip, you can definitely keep up with much more expensive and faster cars on the track. However, now it is so good that it became a dedicated track weapon and unlike the previous gens, it is overkill and too “track focused” for the public road.
Long story short, despite how good the current gen Type-R is, it is unfortunately missing the fun factor that you can surprisingly find it with the Veloster N. It may be slower than the Type-R, and it may have slightly lower handling limits, but it feels more fun pretty much any type of driving style.
At the end of the day, there is no winner in this comparison. Modern hothatches like these two are so close and so good, that you have to nitpick to feel the difference. 2021 Honda Civic Type-R is a great choice if you want to take it to track, and want to be more competitive, but it can also be a good daily driver as it offers a lot of passenger and cargo space.
2021 Hyundai Veloster N is the right choice if you care about having fun, and don’t care about having the best lap times. Veloster N is one of the few hothatches that comes with an automatic transmission option, so if you are just looking for an automatic, your options are very limited.
The Civic Type-R is priced at $46,200 but it is really hard to find at the moment, as all units are sold out and new generation Civic is already out. However, even used prices are skyrocketed to a level it is significantly more expensive than brand new prices. 2021 Hyundai Veloster N is still available and it is priced at $39,399 CAD with the DCT option. If you want manual, the price goes down to $37,799.
It is obvious that the Veloster N is the value choice, and it clearly offers best bang for the buck in this segment. It may not have an all wheel drive, or it may not be the fastest, or even not the most refined one, but it is the only option that combines value, performance and fun in one package.
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