Well, I test drove a CTR and (prepare to be shot down in flames) Im glad I have a 172.
I think Honda have done a good job of diguising the Civics MPV-like styling, but things went a little downhill from there.
OK, its stripped out inside, but dont you think theyd have put some thought into what they left? Horrible, shiny plastic. At least I could find a comfortable seating position.
Once out of town the CTR feels like a bigger and heavier car than the 172. It feels more solidly planted, but I was got very little feedback through the steering (i.e. ended up relying on blind faith that we werent going to understeer through a hedge). Brakes - powerful, no dramas.
The engine is a real screamer, but it makes it difficult to make rapid progress. You really do have to keep the thing spinning at 6 - 8,000rpm to make any real progress - let it drop below that and the car suddenly feels a lot heavier and more ponderous. I did a couple of 3rd and 4th gear roll-ons, and my seat-of-the-pants feeling was that the 172 is a far stronger car in this area.
Towards the end of the test drive we headed up a 1-in-8 hill, with two lanes on our side. I was trying hard all the way up, and it was all getting a little intersting through the corners (the salesman went a bit quiet, despite me warning him what I did on the weekends). Towards the top he said quick, isnt it?. At that moment a 206 GTi sailed past us. Interesting.
In summary, I was expecting a very rapid car. I think if you did most of your driving on flat, open A roads it WOULD be quick, but you have to work very hard to keep the momentum up. The 172 is lighter, more agile, gives better feedback and has a wider spread of useable power, making it easier to make rapid progress. Put them both on a twisty rod and Im confident that the 172 would steadily pull away into the distance.
Thats my opinion anyway. I know I own a 172 but Ive tried to be as unbiased as I can.