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.
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First up is the SEAT, and given its slightly scrappy nature on the road I’m expecting the Leon to be tricky to launch off 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 2500rpm 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 6.2sec, which is four-tenths off 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 21.7sec.
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 2500rpm dialled 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 5.9sec, which is a tenth off 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 5000rpm. It feels brutal in practice, but it’s undeniably effective as the Ford explodes off the line and smashes 60mph in just 4.9sec. 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 data showed it had a negligible effect on the results.
Impressively, all three stood up to the ten consecutive stops, 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 @ 6000rpm||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-wheeldrive, limited-slip differential||Six-speed manual, front-wheeldrive, 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|
|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)|
|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)|