Find a car review

Make
Model
Group tests

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

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

On track

Lap times:

  • Honda Civic Type R – 1:26.2
  • Ford Focus RS – 1:26.9
  • SEAT Leon SC Cupra 300 – 1:27.8

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

Can our contenders cut the mustard on a trackday? Hot laps at Bedford Autodrome will reveal all.

First on the circuit is the Focus. It’s a punchy thing with impressive traction out of the hairpin and it’s keen to flick left-right-left through the Club Chicane. The surprise is that in corners with enough room for a sustained throttle, it power oversteers. Pulling through the second part of New Pif-Paf especially, the tail edges gently wide, kissing the kerbing on the outside and firing the Focus neatly out on a trajectory for the next clipping point. It’s an unusual sensation in a fast hatch and gives the RS a different demeanour to the other pair here.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Through the faster turns that complete the lap it can be guided in on exactly the chosen line, but if you’re abrupt with your input it can snap into oversteer. It’s also oddly reluctant to turn into the medium-speed corners, lacking the bite to change direction, as if its mass is running away with it, and the brakes start to feel the pressure at the end of the third flyer, but overall it’s a good performance that sets the benchmark at 1:26.9.

You sit much lower in the Civic, the shift is snappier (but throttle pick-up a little less instant) and the brakes bite right from the top of the pedal, inspiring confidence. The handling and traction don’t disappoint, either, the car changing direction with alacrity and pulling solidly out of the tightest turns.

As with the Focus, it’s possible to overload the front end with an ambitious entry speed or by being too early on the throttle, but the Civic feels like a more precise tool, telegraphing the level of grip through the steering with more detail. It’s easier to drive up to the limit, hit apexes more consistently and get into a satisfying flow with the car. While the Focus feels like a heavy car with some clever tricks up its sleeve, the Civic feels like a lighter car honed for the track. It’s shorter geared, so requires more gearshifts, but it comes as no surprise that it’s faster, nailing a 1:26.2 lap.

Right from the off, the Leon feels out of its depth. Pitch and roll are so pronounced compared with the others that you wonder if it really is in its Cupra setting. The growly engine certainly delivers but the differences between the Sub8 chassis, which we have praised in the past, and this standard one are stark.

The pitching and rolling seem to compromise grip, while the anti-lock activates at a much lower threshold than in the other cars here and there’s much more tyre squeal in the corners. While the Honda feels like a car that was designed for track use, the SEAT feels like it skipped that part of its development. Its fastest lap of 1.27.8 flatters the car; on the second lap the tyres felt overheated and grip was falling away so rapidly that there was no point in attempting a third.

Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/features/17721/the-best-family-cars-that-are-fun-to-drive
Best cars

Best family cars that are still fun to drive

Saloon, hatchback or SUV, family cars come in all shapes and sizes, and needn’t be a snore to drive. These are some of the team’s favourites.
13 Sep 2019
Visit/abarth/201755/2020-abarth-595-pista-arrives-with-162bhp
Abarth 595

2020 Abarth 595 Pista arrives with 162bhp

The supermini has been given a new Garrett turbocharger, paint options and tweaks inside
13 Sep 2019
Visit/buying-advice/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week
Features

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
13 Sep 2019
Visit/article/201613/goodyear-eagle-f1-supersport-picked-by-porsche
Sponsored

Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport - picked by Porsche

Goodyear has many close associations with premium global car brands, but being asked to develop a trackday tyre for Porsche's extreme 911 GT3 RS was a…
14 Aug 2019