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Honda Civic Type R takes on Volkswagen Golf R, Ford Focus RS at the drag strip

By Cameron Kirby, 06 Nov 2017 News

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Japan’s front-drive cult hero is reborn, and is taking the fight to the established all-paw kings of the hot hatch segment

IT DOESN’T come with a fearsome nickname such as Godzilla, but the red R badge on Honda’s latest creation turns a doting runabout into a raucous hot hatch looking as though it was ripped straight from the pages of a manga comic book, ready to rumble with the best.

Wheels recently pitted the front-drive hot hatch contender against Ford’s rip-snorting Focus RS, and Volkswagen’s understated but undeniably formidable Golf R – both of which come to the showdown bearing all-wheel drive.

You can read tomorrow how the three compared on the road, but what we will focus on today is the trio’s performance capabilities at the drag strip.

TroikaWhile the Civic Type R lacks all-wheel traction, it sits in the middle of the group in terms of power, producing 228kW and 400Nm from a 2.0-litre turbo engine. In contrast, the Focus RS pushes out 257kW and 440Nm from its 2.3-litre four-pot, while the Golf R has the least firepower, with its 2.0-litre turbo generating 213kW and 380Nm.

But all the power in the world can’t trump traction. The Focus RS is the quickest on test to crack 100km/h from a standstill, doing so in 5.0 seconds flat against an official 4.9. The Blue Oval’s hot hatch has a launch control function, but we found the best numbers were achieved by having the engine sing to redline, and simply side-stepping the clutch. The Golf R did the same feat in 5.6secs (against an official 5.2), while the Type R languishes down the back of the pack with a tested acceleration time of 5.8secs.

Focus RSIt’s the same order over the standing quarter mile as well, with the Focus RS crossing the line in 13.4 seconds with a trap speed of 169.1km/h, ahead of the Golf R with a time of 13.6 seconds at 168.2km/h. Three tenths behind the Golf is the Type R, recording a best time of 13.9 seconds at 171.4km/h. It’s the trap speed which is most impressive here, as the Civic starts to haul in the competition.

In a sprint to 180km/h the Civic overtakes the Golf, doing so in 16.3 seconds – a tenth quicker than the VW. However, it’s the Focus RS which remains out in front, pushing the speedometer past 180km/h in 15.8secs.

Clearly the all-wheel-drive Focus RS and Golf R have an advantage over the Civic from a dig, so we also timed rolling acceleration from 80-120km/h in gears three to six. The Honda was quickest in all cogs bar sixth, which is where the Focus RS’s torque advantage came into play.

Second troikaAll cars were tested at the track on the same day using the same driver to ensure equal conditions.

The full performance testing results can be found in our comparison, but here are the key facts and figures.

Focus RSFORD FOCUS RS
Power-to-weight ratio:
163kW per tonne
0-100kmh: 5.0secs
0-180km/h: 15.8secs
Quarter mile: 13.4secs @169.1km/h
80-120km/h (3rd/4th/5th/6th gear): 3.2/4.1/5.3/6.7
100km/h-0: 34.8 metres

Type AhhHONDA CIVIC TYPE R
Power-to-weight ratio:
169kW per tonne
0-100km/h: 5.8secs
0-180km/h: 16.2secs
Quarter mile: 13.9secs @ 171.4km/h
80-120km/h (3rd/4th/5th/6th gear): 3.0/3.7/4.9/7.3secs
100km/h-0: 35.2 metres

Golf ArrrrrrrVOLKSWAGEN GOLF R
Power-to-weight ratio:
149kW per tonne
0-100km/h: 5.6secs
0-180km/h: 16.3secs
Quarter mile: 13.6secs @ 168.2km/h|
80-120km/h (3rd/4th/5th/6th gear): 3.1/4.1/5.5/7.2secs
100km/h-0: 37.9 metres