The new Honda Civic Type R FL5 has already established itself as a formidable performance vehicle, outpacing its FK8 predecessor in several key areas. It has already been able to set lap records at race tracks, including the Suzuka Circuit in Japan. The car's improved handling contributes to this exceptional performance but one question remains: is it now quick enough to beat AWD hot hatchbacks at least in a straight-line contest?

To answer the question, Carwow from the UK rounded up some of the hottest hatchbacks for an exciting drag race. Facing the Honda Civic Type R FL5 are the Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years, Audi S3, Mercedes-AMG A35, and BMW M135i – all are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine just like the Civic Type R, but are driven by all four wheels.

Gallery: 2023 Honda Civic Type R: First Drive

The VW Golf R 20 Years is the most powerful version of the Mk8 Golf R, boasting 328 bhp (245 kilowatts) and 310 pound-feet (420 Newton-metres) of torque. It weighs 1,480 kilograms (3,263 pounds), making it a relatively lightweight option among the cars compared.

The Audi S3 is also a sporty hatchback that produces 306 bhp (228 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque. It is slightly heavier than the Golf R, weighing in at 1,500 kg (3,307 lbs).

The BMW M135i is another powerful hatchback that produces 302 bhp (225 kW) and 332 lb-ft (450 Nm) of torque. It weighs 1,525 kg (3,362 lbs).

The Mercedes-AMG A35 has similar specs to the BMW and Audi, with 302 bhp (225 kW), 295 lb-ft (400 Nm), and weighs 1,555 kg (3,428 lbs).

Finally, the Honda Civic Type R here produces 324 bhp (242 kW) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm) of torque. It is the lightest car among the comparison, weighing in at 1,430 kg (3,150 lbs).

Obviously, the Civic Type R is at a disadvantage with its front-wheel drivetrain and manual gearbox. But are the improvements on the new-generation model enough to give it a fighting chance against AWD rivals?