The new Honda Civic Type R has been one of the most eagerly anticipated hot hatches of 2017. With more power than its predecessor, a more sophisticated suspension set-up and bold looks, it’s aiming for the top. But can it topple the four-wheel drive Ford Focus RS and the flyweight, recently revised SEAT Leon SC Cupra 300?
The new Civic Type R gets a fraction more power from the firm’s now familiar K20C1 2-litre turbo, which pumps out 10bhp more at 316bhp and the same 295lb ft, but the chassis has been heavily revised. The biggest change is at the rear, where there’s now an advanced multi-link rear axle instead of a far simpler torsion beam, while the adaptive dampers are claimed to work across a wider bandwidth than before.
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Closest in spirit to the Honda is the Focus RS, which very much wears its high performance heart on its sleeve. There are scoops, slats and spoilers everywhere, plus a lowered ride height and a pair of exhausts that could double as drainpipes.
It backs up these pugnacious looks with a mechanical make-up that has the upperhand when it comes to bar room bragging rights. For starters, the turbocharged 2.3-litre has the most puff at 345bhp, plus the strongest twist, with 325lb ft available at just 2000rpm. Yet while the Civic uses aerodynamics to keep it glued to the road, the Ford gets an all singing and dancing four-wheel drive system.
By comparison, the recently updated Leon SC Cupra could be easily overlooked in this company. Aside from discreet badging on the grille and boot lid, plus a pair of overly large oval tailpipes, the SEAT is virtually identical to more humdrum versions of the hatchback. Even in SC coupe guise (there are also five-door and estate versions) the Leon blends into the background.
So, three superheated hatches vying for Supertest honours, how are we going to weed out a winner? Once again we’ll be hitting the road, North Yorkshire’s finest to be precise, the track and the proving ground to harvest all the raw data we can. There can only be one winner…
Honda Civic Type R vs Ford Focus RS vs SEAT Leon SC Cupra 300
Click the links below to jump to the supertest data and track test sections, then get the final verdict.
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This evo Supertest appeared in full in evo 241. Subscribe to evo here for the next in the Supertest series.