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Honda Civic Type R vs Ford Focus RS vs SEAT Leon SC Cupra 300 - Supertest review

evo staff
19 Dec 2017

Hot new Honda Civic Type R goes head to head with Ford Focus RS and SEAT Leon SC Cupra 300

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The data

Acceleration and braking tests, and the cars’ true weights are revealed.

Given the different power outputs, kerbweights and transmission layouts of our trio, it’s surprising to see just how closely matched their power to weight ratios are. The Honda manages a healthy 227bhp per ton, while the Ford and SEAT record exactly the same 223bhp. So, this should be close then.

First up is the SEAT, and given its slightly scrappy nature on the road I’m expecting the Leon to be tricky to launch of the line. I’m not wrong. Even in Cupra model with the ESP switched off the SEAT’s traction control cuts in, making it difficult to nail a clean getaway. After some trial and error we find that launching the car at 2,500rpm delivers the best result, but even with careful throttle control the battle between engine, traction control and tyres results in what feels and sounds like severe axle tramp in first and second gears. Still, the 0-60mph dash is covered in a respectable 6.2 seconds, which is four-tenths of SEAT’s claim to 62mph. However, once it’s rolling, the Cupra gathers speed at an alarming rate and beyond 100mph it’s the fastest of our contenders, cracking 130mph in 21.7 seconds.

Getting the Honda off the line is a much simpler affair, the car’s excellent traction allowing you to make the most of the 316bhp. As with the Leon you need around 2,500rpm dialed in before dropping the clutch, but while the SEAT struggles to get its power down the Civic serves up just enough over rotation of the front wheels for a peachy getaway. The result is a 0-60mph time of just 5.9 seconds, which is a tenth of Honda’s 0-62 claim.

Nonetheless, both the SEAT and Honda have to give best to the four-wheel drive Focus when it comes to the emergency start. The car’s total traction plays its part, but so does the standard launch control. You need to put any mechanical sympathy on hold for this set-up as you plant your foot on the throttle then simply side-step the clutch as the engine is screaming at a computer controlled 5,000rpm. It feels brutal in practice, but it’s undeniably effective as the Ford explodes off the line and smashes 60mph in just 4.9 seconds. Yet eventually the RS’s mass begins to tell, and once past 100mph it’s overhauled by both the Leon and the Civic. 

While our contenders were separated by mere seconds when accelerating off the line and in-gear, there was an undisputed winner of our braking tests. Against any rival the Honda’s performance would be excellent, but compared to the Ford and SEAT it was in a class of its own. The combination of tenacious tyre grip and brakes with terrific bite allowed the Honda to stop from 100mph in just 85.1 metres, which was over 15 metres shorter than the Ford’s best run. Perhaps more remarkably, even the Type R’s worst result was better than Ford or SEAT’s best runs. There is a small caveat, though, as on two of the tests the Honda hit a bump that seemed to bamboozle the ABS and cause a brief, tyre smoking lock-up. But while it looked and smelled dramatic, the date showed it had a negligible effect on the results.

Impressively, all three stood up to the ten consecutive stops impressively, with the only symptom of the hard work being a slightly longer pedal from the eighth run onwards.

Ford Focus RS

Honda Civic Type R

SEAT Leon Cupra 300 

Engine In-line 4-cyl, 2261cc, turbo In-line 4-cyl, 1996cc, turbo In-line 4-cyl, 1984cc, turbo
Power 345bhp @ rpm 316bhp @ 6500rpm 296bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 347lb  @ 2000-4500rpm 295lb  @ 2500-4500rpm 280lb  @ 1800-5500rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive,
torque vectoring rear differential
Six-speed manual, front-wheel
drive, limited-slip differential
Six-speed manual, front-wheel
drive, electronically controlled LSD
Tyres 235/35 R19 front and rear,
Michelin Pilot Super Sport
245/30 R20 front and rear,
Continental SportContact 6
235/35 R19 front and rear,
Pirelli P Zero
Height/width 1472mm/1823mm 1434mm/1877mm 1423mm/1810mm
Weight 1569kg as tested (1547kg claimed) 1412kg as tested (1380kg claimed) 1347kg as tested (1300kg claimed)
Power-to-weight 223bhp/ton using test-car weight
(227bhp/ton claimed)
227bhp/ton using test-car weight
(233bhp/ton claimed)
223bhp/ton using test-car weight
(231bhp/ton claimed)
0-60mph 4.9sec as tested (4.7 to 62 claimed) 5.9sec as tested (5.8 to 62 claimed) 6.2sec as tested (5.7 to 62 claimed)
Top speed 166mph (claimed) 169mph (claimed) 155mph (limited)
evo mpg 22.2 (average over duration of test) 26.6 (average over duration of test) 27.6 (average over duration of test)
Basic price £32,265 £30,995 £30,155
PCP monthly price £445 (36 months, £3500 deposit,
9000 miles per annum limit)
£491 (36 months, £3500 deposit,
10,000 miles per annum limit)
£409 (36 months, £3500 deposit,
10,000 miles per annum limit)

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