TG Pits Honda Civic Type R Against VW Golf R

What to do with two (very) hot hatches, such as the top Golf and the first-ever turbocharged Civic, to make things just a bit more interesting?

The folks at Top Gear decided to stage a drag race instead of a typical back-to-back test.

The two are easily comparable, with similar weights and performance figures, which makes the end result difficult to predict.

The Type R is the more powerful, standing tall at 310 PS and 400 Nm (295 lb-ft). All that power directed to the front wheels alone. Goes to show how much we’ve come since 200 PS was, more or less, the limit for tackling the tarmac with the same axle that also has to do the steering.

The Golf R, on the other hand, is good for 300 PS and 380 Nm (280 lb-ft) of torque. However, the power deficit is counteracted by the dual-clutch gearbox, launch control and all-wheel drive. Or is it? Things on paper are not all they seem to be when it comes to the real world.


  • cooper

    That was not even a race. Honda needs to work on its traction issues.

    • dumblikeyou2

      The Type-R still looked like a better time on the track.

      • cooper

        The civic looks like a joke. Something built in a high school auto shop class.

        • dumblikeyou2

          I think you’re missing the point of my comment.

        • Shawn T

          Well jokes don’t make it to be the best selling car in their respective class without something to back them up, and if i’m not mistaken (and i’m not) VW has not a single ‘top-selling’ vehicle in its ENTIRE lineup, from any of its brands, soooo yeah. apparently faster doesn’t mean better…

  • TheBelltower

    And…. spanked.

  • Razvan

    They should do some track times as well. Drag times are relevant up to a certain point.

  • 4 Motion.

  • SDS SP

    I would be satisfied with both 😉

  • Craig

    What is it with German cars? Is first gear so incredibly low or something? [Or high – not sure how that works] They almost always win races with less power. And to be honest – It pisses me off. Honda knew this was their competition. Did they not care? I once owned a 1999 M3. And it was great. EXCEPT it revved like mad at anything over 70 mph.

    • Mind Synthetic

      to make it easy for you, 4wd is the key. it will always win in of the line performance. plus dual clutch is another plus. i think if that hitler mobile were to have FF set up as the Ricer mobile it would have been a closer race

      • Craig

        I’m sure that’s the reason in this case. But I’ve been aware of this ‘phenomenon’ for decades. With no obvious advantage – such as awd or dct.

    • pcurve

      “They almost always win races with less power” Some engines in VW cars have underrated HP ratings. VW’s 2.0 turbo has more power than stated on paper, as does BMW’s 2.0 turbo.

  • that was a waste of time…Unless the VW misses her start and a Alien lands on top of it… Launch control, DSG + AWD will always win. pointless.

  • TheHake

    Maybe if the Honda’s spoiler was even bigger, it would stand a chance… Looks fkkn ridiculous…

  • B-art

    but i still prefer Honda than VW .. drag races are for pus**es
    check tchem both on tight corners and track

  • Bobby Ang

    This is not Top Gear … stupid drag races with lousy commentary. Pot Gear.

    • Matt

      This was made by Top Gear Magazine, which is seperate from the show.

  • smartacus

    Civic Type R vs Golf R is like Mondale vs Hart

    • MrPC

      That makes me wonder what cars the current candidates would be…

  • pureworx

    It’s like going to an italian place and getting pizza and then comparing that with chinese.. wheres the logic? If i want pizza, i want to know who does the best pizza not X does pizza but from Y you an have noodles.

    The golf r 5dr base spec manual with the 0 cost paint and standard interior (cloth) costs £31,775 and the base Civic type r with no options and standard interior (leather) costs £29.995 which is £1780 cheaper. So yes it lacks awd but its also £2k less than the base golf r.. a difference never pointed out in reviews, instead they compare the car with a fully loaded golf r which costs hell of a lot more.

    If you’re in the market for a awd hatch, you wont be interested in the civic type r and if you’re looking at the civic type r it’s because you want a fwd hot hatch or you have already ruled out all the awd due to price or driving characteristics, so comparing cars of the same architecture is very important to make a well informed decision.

    Telling me the civic loses to a car that costs £4k more, well i’d expect that.. another pro german pointless test.

    • Matt

      No, the problem is that you’re taking this test far too seriously (and personally, perhaps you own a Honda?).

      This was not a serious, compare-all-specs buyers guide. It was a simple drag race between two of the latest hot hatches. It was a no-brainer the vehicle equipped with AWD would win, but it’s always interesting to know just how close it might be.

  • Chris

    Yeap.. Golf is faster but at some point you might go home without the gearbox.. vw owners know what I mean..

  • Shawn T

    What i find most amusing about this post are the comments, as if either the VW or the Honda are world changing cars… They’re literally JUST cars, that to be honest, 98% of their owners won’t even actually race in… so it’s irrelevant.

  • Dui

    This race stupid obviously the 4 wheel drive is going to win
    should race at 40 K rolling start then will see what car is faster

  • Ross Nirenstein

    I owned the Golf R for a day and returned it. Fast car, but incredibly boring to drive. It was robotic in how it drove. There was ZERO drama. I’d gladly take a civic over it.