Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai i30 Fastback N drag race | CAR Magazine

Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai i30 Fastback N drag race

Published: 07 July 2020

► We head to the drag strip with two hardcore hot hatches
► Both 2.0-litre turbocharged fours
► Can the i30 topple the mighty CTR?

When it comes to the current hot hatch market, customers are spoiled for choice – there is a glut of excellent options to choose from.

But here at CAR HQ, the two traditionally viewed as the top of the table are the Hyundai i30 N and the Honda Civic Type R. We wanted to find out which of the pair was quicker in a straight line.

So it was that we found ourselves at the drag strip with both the £32,320 Honda Civic Type R and the £30,310 Hyundai i30 Fastback N.

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Both are powered by 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engines, transferring power to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.

Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai i30 Fastback N

The Honda has the power advantage, with 306bhp/295lb ft, while the Hyundai has claimed outputs of 271bhp/260lb ft. The i30 achieves peak torque quicker, but the Honda has a larger tyre footprint.

This should be interesting.

The race

Off the line, it is the Hyundai that has a brief early advantage, but after that, the Civic Type R starts putting its power to the ground, and begins hauling itself into the lead.

The Honda is one-tenth quicker to 40mph, and by the time 60 appears on the speedo it’s earned an advantage of 0.3 seconds.

Hyundai i30 N long-term review

From a standing start, the Hyundai cracks 62mph in a respectable 6.3 seconds, with the Honda taking just six seconds flat.

Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai i30 Fastback N

If you have no desire to hold on to your licence, the Type R will crack 87mph in 10.1 seconds, while the Hyundai takes 10.7 seconds.

Just 13.8 seconds after launch the Civic Type R crosses the 400-metre beams, with a trap speed of 105.8mph. The Hyundai is half a second behind at this point, and travelling slower (14.3 seconds @ 100.1mph).

While the drag race is over at that point, with the Honda taking a clear advantage, it’s not where our performance testing stops.

Expert analysis

Helmsman Andy Enright was at the wheel for our instrumented tests, keeping his right foot planted all the way to 120mph and beyond. The Honda managed to see 124mph in 20.7 seconds, while the Hyundai cracked the same figure in 23.2 seconds.

The Heathcote circuit had been peppered with rain the morning of our scheduled testing, making things challenging for Enright.

Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai i30 Fastback N

“As exercises in frustration go, trying to launch powerful front-drive hot hatches on a damp and cold dragstrip is right up there,” he explained.

“Attempting to take the front tyres right up to the limit of adhesion and hold it in that paper thin sweet spot through first three gears resulted in more than a few aborted runs in both the Civic and the i30N.

“Looking back at my first runs, the best I could get from the Hyundai was 7.6 seconds, a massive 1.4 seconds off the factory claim. Moving off the rubbered-in section of the strip to a piece of virgin concrete helped traction, and as the wind slowly dried the track to a patchwork of wet and dry, the times tumbled.

“It took the seventh run to log a 6.3sec run to 62mph, which, in these conditions, represented a mere 0.1 sec down on the factory figure.

Honda Civic Type R long-term review

“I felt the i30N had excelled itself here. At high speed on the strip, it felt as if there was a slight lack of top-end grunt, and the feel of the gearbox was such that you were never 100 per cent sure if the shift into third was good or not.

“Once the Civic’s Contis had warmed through a bit, it was actually an easier thing to get off the line cleanly, with the throttle pedal modulation better allowing you to keep it near the threshold of wheelspin. A best of 6.0sec to 62mph saw it put clear air between it and the Hyundai, and the impression of potency only grew during the high-speed runs.

“Checking back on the figures was instructive. The Type R took 14.7 sec to run from 62-124mph, whereas the Hyundai took more than two seconds longer for this increment at 16.9sec. It’s here more than anywhere that the Civic’s additional 35bhp made itself apparent.

Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai i30 Fastback N

“Commonalities? Neither of the two hatches displayed much in terms of torque steer, and neither had a traction control system so clever that you could lean on it for the best possible launch in the tricky conditions.

“There wasn’t a lot between the two cars’ braking performance, with their best stopping distances from 62mph varying by a mere 400mm (130 N 35.9m, the lighter Civic 35.5m). Of the two cars the Type R is the easier to get a respectable time out of when its tyres are warm, but the Pirelli P Zero rubber of the Hyundai seem to come into their window a bit quicker than the 20-inch ContiSport Contact 6 hoops of the Honda.”

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Hyundai i30 Fastback N specs and performance data

Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai i30 Fastback N

Price: £30,310
Engine: In-line 4cyl, 16v, turbo
Layout: Front transverse engine, front-wheel drive
Capacity: 1998cc
Power: 271bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 260lb ft @ 1450-4700rpm
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Weight: 1441kg
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero (235/35/R19)
Power-to-weight: 188bhp/tonne
0-62mph: 6.3 sec
0-100mph: 14.2 sec
0-400m: 14.3 sec @ 100.1mph
62mph-0: 35.9m

Honda Civic Type R specs and performance data

Honda Civic Type R vs Hyundai i30 Fastback N

Price: £32,310
Engine: In-line 4cyl, 16v, turbo
Layout: Front transverse engine, front-wheel drive
Capacity: 1996cc
Power: 306bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 295lb ft @ 2500-4500rpm
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Weight: 1396kg
Tyres: Continental ContiSport Contact 6 (245/30/ZR20)
Power-to-weight: 219bhp/tonne
0-62mph: 6.0 sec
0-100mph: 12.4 sec
0-400m: 13.8 sec @ 105.8mph
62mph-0: 35.5m

By Cameron Kirby

Online editor of our former sister site, Wheels. Also, self-professed motorsport shoey historian