Civic Type R Proves Front Wheel Drive Can Be Fast!

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It’s a battle of opinion that has raged for decades, with front drive performance cars taking on rear drivers and cars with four driven wheels. As Honda enthusiasts, it’s likely that most of our readers will sit firmly within the FWD camp. Car Throttle jumps in on this debate with a good old-fashioned track battle between Honda’s front driver Civic Type R, Ford’s all-wheel drive Focus RS, and BMW’s rear-driven M140i (a car we do not get here in the U.S., but is very similar to the U.S.-spec M235i). The trio of cars have roughly the same power levels, weight, and price, making this a really fair competition. It’s go time: can the Civic hold its own on a damp and blustery day in Lichfield, on the Curborough Sprint Course.


With everything on the line for FWD fans, the game is set, and Honda’s best hot hatch is ready. The BMW goes first, and sets some reasonably quick times. It is obvious that the wet day has curbed its enthusiasm some, as it’s stepping out of line everywhere. The Honda comes up second, setting faster times yet, with precision and efficiency. As with any circuit racing truth, faster times are set by cars that don’t drift wide of their mark, and the Honda can clearly be aimed solidly at the apex of a corner without fear of oversteer. The Focus RS does a bit of what the BMW had, and the rear wheels occasionally move wide. It is instantly obvious, however, that the Ford has massive traction off the line, allowing it to get off to a better start than either of the other two.

Later in the video, the “drag race” battle shows this theory put to test. The BMW and the Honda scrabble for grip off the line, and both are left in the Ford’s dust. What is your takeaway from this? Personally, I find the Honda’s stable and rational use of the track to be the most defensible. When you’re looking for the ultimate lap time, you don’t want a car that oversteers, you want a stable and repeatable platform. Who do you think ought to have taken this battle?

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