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Wings of glory: Honda Civic Type R outsoars Ford Focus RS

Robert Duffer and Doug George, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Automotive News

"It's totally boy-racer all the way," George said. "Hey Honda, Boeing called and wants its wing back."

The Rally Sport is, by comparison, more modest even in baby blue "Nitrous Blue." The RS feels and looks more unified, composed and mature. The third-generation RS has a similar splitter up front but a more menacing face with a black RS mustache splitting the grille. Its wing is braced off the roof, at the top of the lift gate.

Better pill: RS

Performance

The driver of either will not be disappointed on the track. "These are both astonishing cars," George said.

But intent is nine-tenths of the draw and the RS is made to be tracked.

With its modified EcoBoost 2.3-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a tight six-speed manual sending power to all wheels, the RS is the better track car. "The extra power seemed to come on earlier and stay more tractable in the middle of a hard corner," George said about the RS. Acceleration is better due to the blend of more power (350 horsepower) and more torque (350 pound-feet) even though full torque comes later than the Type R at 3,200 rpm.

The Type R makes 295-pound feet at about 2,500 rpm. At that point, the Type R slingshots forward; before that point, it's not as responsive as the RS.

The short throws of the RS gearbox get to the sweet spot more quickly and there's a pony car rumble to the soundtrack that sounds much greater than a modified four-cylinder engine. Both sticks felt great, with cold aluminum knobs and short rowing; the Type R felt notchier; the clutch pedal of the RS had greater feedback.

The steering wheel in the RS is also smaller, and feels more connected to the road. The slightest motions deliver precise results. It's less forgiving than the Type R, so precision is paramount.

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