Manual vs automatic.

Hot hatches are especially fun on a twisty road, but they’ll also put a smile on your face in a straight line. The Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf GTI are among the quintessential hot hatches, so it’s no wonder the folks over at Cars.co.za in South Africa lined them up for a drag race. They didn’t just take a regular version of Wolfsburg’s spirited compact hatch, deciding to go with the limited-run TCR version.

As a reminder, the Golf Mk7-based GTI TCR had its turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine dialled to 286 bhp (213 kilowatts) and 280 pound-feet (380 Newton-metres) of torque. Unlike the Civic Type R with its manual transmission, VW sold its feisty front-wheel-drive hatch exclusively with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

There are more differences between the two, with the Honda packing quite a bit more punch, at 306 bhp (228 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm). On the flip side, the Civic Type R has to carry around about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) more than the Golf GTI TCR, and that stick shift is typically a disadvantage in a drag race. In this particular case, the baby seat in the back added some extra bulk as well.

The man behind the Civic Type R had a perfect start, which we can’t say about the Golf GTI TCR as it had a poor start despite having a launch control system. The VW lost the battle right from the beginning, needing at least a full second more to get moving compared to the Honda. It’s a drag race that certainly needs a redo seeing as how the outcome might’ve been different if the Golf had started the run at the same time as the Type R.

It will be a while before we’ll get a next-generation Civic Type R whereas VW is expected to unveil the new Golf GTI TCR in the following weeks. Unlike the vehicle featured here, it will be a permanent fixture in the lineup and will pack an extra 10 horses over its predecessor.