RS Clio IV 200T vs Ford Fiesta ST – 9 January 2014

February 20, 2014 11:19 pm

I had the pleasure of shooting a feature for CarAdvice.com.au, for their comparison of the new Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo EDC and the current darling of the super-mini hot hatches, the Ford Fiesta ST. I was lucky enough to be given the keys to the Fiesta for a few days beforehand and, also, partake in a back-to-back drive of the two cars on Sydney’s famous Old Pacific Highway.

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In short, both cars are superb. Each have their strengths and weaknesses but the performance that is accessible from these entry level hot hatches is just astounding.

For me, the Fiesta wins the battle in driving experience with its sublime steering feel, engine response and the fact that it is a manual. Having said that, I’m not fond of the ST’s shift or clutch feel, though it wouldn’t be a deal breaker. It makes a great, warbly noise from the intake , and feels much more rapid than its 132kW power figure suggests – thanks to its temporary “overboost” function.

The Clio takes the cake in exterior looks, interior design and suspension/ride quality. Where the Fiesta dips and crashes over harsh bumps, the Clio’s trick hydraulic bump stops maintain composure and give a ride quality that has to be experienced to be believed – even on the test car’s Cup chassis. The overall aesthetic of the Clio is classy, sophisticated and sporty, while the interior is a big step up in quality and refinement from the previous generations.

After having owned two previous generations of RS Clios, the switch to an automated manual gearbox, especially as the only option, has been somewhat depressing. I understand why they’ve made the decision but feel for outright sales volume, surely offering the choice of manual or EDC would secure them the biggest market share? Stepping off my purist’s high-horse, the gearbox itself is quite good and, for me, the shifts in Sport mode plenty fast enough. I much prefer it to VW DSG offerings in my wife’s old 2010 Audi A3 1.8T.

Both cars have obligatory badges for their “sporting” nomenclature:

At the end of the day, if I had to take one home for myself, I’d pick the Fiesta. It exhibits more of the old-school hot hatch feel in playfulness, eagreness and downright fun. The Clio is more grown up and refined but the loss of the C-pedal and wobbly gear stick means some of the sparkle of the RS Clio lineage is missing. I like to think that in the mid-life update, a manual will find its way into the model lineup (there’s one ready to go, in the Nismo Juke, with which it shares its engine) but for now we’re stuck with the EDC.

For practicality and ease of use, the Clio wins with its five doors, traffic-friendly gearbox and compliant ride. In fact, these factors have meant that a Glacier White Sport Trophy has found its way into our household, to replace the wife’s Audi A3: and so far, we’re loving it.

But if you’re after pure driving thrills on a budget, the Fiesta is the car for you.

For the original and full review by Daniel DeGasperi, please vist CarAdvice.com.au.

The full set of images can be found on our Flickr page.

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