The new Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup might currently be in the spotlight, but there’s another quick Clio lurking in the shadows that deserves its fair share of attention: the GT.
Is the Renault Clio GT another Renaultsport derivative, is it?
No, no, the GT acts as a next best thing, a kind of warm hatch that’s cheaper to insure, less polluting and more comfortable than its go-faster siblings.
The looks will be deja-vu familiar to owners of 2005 Clios, but Renault’s gently finessed the line-up while giving the GT some standalone distinctiveness: darker headlamps, twin exhausts, a rear lip spoiler, 16-inch anthracite alloys, fresh sideskirts and, controversially, an aggressive front bumper that looks better than the rather awkward, F1-inspired item that adorns the range-topping 200. You also get the appealing option of Malta Blue paint, and, unlike the Renaultsport range, a choice of three- and five-door body styles.
Shouldn’t you just spend the extra and get the 200?
If you want hardcore, then yes. But the GT makes a genuine case for itself as a different kind of car – it isn’t just a Clio 200 with less power. It rides with an impressive suppleness, steers incredibly well, and delivers plenty of entertainment over challenging back roads thanks to its eager turn-in and exploitable, easy-to-read grip levels.
The engine – the same 1.6-litre 16-valve petrol we’ve seen in the Twingo Renaultsport with just a few bhp removed from the equation – might feel a tad breathless on steep motorway inclines, but there’s plenty of poke for most situations, and more than enough pep to have a lot of fun.
All that and you’ll do six miles more to the gallon than you would in the 200, and churn out 35g/km less too. The perfect insurance-friendly runaround.
>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Renault Clio GT first drive
Hang on, isn’t that the Fiesta?
Good point, the Fiesta Zetec S is the Clio’s toughest opposition and, sadly for Renault, just nicks top honours. At £13,895, the Ford is £400 more expensive, but it edges out the Clio because it looks a little fresher, handles with similar verve, pollutes less and boasts a much nicer interior.
Not that the GT is a bad place to be, and we were particularly impressed by the Renault’s seats, which managed to be both aggressively bolstered and incredibly comfortable, reminding us of the chairs in the Clio Williams. There’s also some decent head- and kneeroom in the rear, and the squidgy dash plastics that are so bound up with that premium feel.
If you can’t stretch to a Clio 200, don’t despair. The Clio GT is still entertaining to drive, much cheaper to buy and run, and more comfortable too. In fact, as an everyday proposition it makes much more sense.
This is a good car, then, and one that’s only just beaten by the brilliant Fiesta.
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