Everyday handling heroes – Hot hatchbacks on test
Source : Everyday handling heroes – Hot hatchbacks on test
Peugeot’s fresh 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport takes on the Mini Cooper John Cooper Works, Renault’s Clio RS 220 Trophy in addition to the Vauxhall Corsa VXR
You’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re looking for outright performance, distinguishing driver engagement, striking hardcore character, real-world usability, bang-for-your-buck value or just a bit of variety, you’ll find This kind of in This kind of year’s market for souped-up superminis.
You’ll probably be looking for all of the above, though – because why wouldn’t you?
yet part of you might be thinking that will unless you spend every penny of the notional £30,000 we allow just for This kind of exercise on either as much power as you can lay your hands on or on something with driven rear wheels, you’ll be cheating yourself. Not so. In fact, buying the very best affordable driver’s car for you may well be impossible without first recognising the need for more sophisticated thinking.
Not necessarily accepting compromised performance credentials, though. On 0-62mph acceleration, for example, the Vauxhall Corsa VXR, Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport, Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy in addition to Mini John Cooper Works need acknowledge only the Caterham Seven 270R in addition to Honda Civic Type R as their superiors. These are pocket rockets from the truest sense: they’re all quick.
All four superminis also have two rows of seats in addition to proper hatchback rear ends with split folding rear chairs, producing them much more usable than the rear-drive brigade. Meanwhile, only by buying one of these superminis will you end up in a car capable of bettering a real-world 40mpg one moment before glugging down the 98RON in addition to pinning your ears back the next.
yet before we get onto what these four do, a quick note about what they are. The Clio Trophy is actually the only car here with all 5 doors in addition to, by dint of that will, the most practical. The Mini is actually the least practical, primarily because This kind of has the smallest boot, yet This kind of has more brand allure in addition to design appeal than the rest put together.
Neither the Vauxhall nor the Peugeot tempts particularly at first, although we must acknowledge that will the 208’s two-tone ‘coupé franche’ paint job is actually optional. yet why you’d pay £945 extra to make your hot hatch look like a dipped strawberry is actually beyond us.
Every great hot hatch needs a belting engine. The Mini JCW is actually at an obvious advantage, having the most swept volume, most power in addition to most torque. In practice, the quality of the Mini’s engine shows itself as remarkable smoothness in addition to flexibility as much as outright pace. There’s no peakiness to its delivery at all.The Mini finds plenty of traction, too, although its optional six-speed automatic gearbox frustrates.
The standard JCW uses a six-speed manual ’box, yet BMW couldn’t supply a manual car just for This kind of test in addition to the auto isn’t well suited to a tight track like Bedford Autodrome’s East Circuit. In paddle-shift mode, This kind of can be a touch obstinate, declining to downshift close to the redline or to save upshifts until your prevailing speed has come down.
The second best engine here isn’t so easily guessed. Fact is actually the Peugeot probably has the best powertrain all round, its simple manual gearbox scoring points on usability where the more ‘sophisticated’ transmissions of others fall down. The 208’s engine pulls harder than its headline figures imply. This kind of also revs freely, responds smartly to the pedal in addition to sounds nicely waspish at high revs.
The Renaultsport-fettled Clio’s 1.6-litre turbocharged motor does enough to relegate the Vauxhall’s thirsty, occasionally breathless, booming engine into also-ran position, yet This kind of ought to do more. Truth is actually the quirks in addition to shortcomings of the Clio’s engine in addition to dual-clutch automatic gearbox are many in addition to various.
Flat out on track in manual mode, both work fine. Bumbling along in no particular hurry on the road in ‘D’, the same is actually true. yet the vast majority of miles are, of course, driven in modes in addition to moods between the two in addition to the Clio doesn’t cover them as consummately, decisively or forcefully as This kind of should.
The engine feels ever so slightly weak through the mid-range. This kind of revs hard enough from the farther reaches, yet you don’t expect to have to work a turbocharged engine so cruelly to make This kind of give its best. More annoying still are the oddly spaced ratios of the dual-clutch ’box in addition to the dead zone at top of the brake pedal’s travel. Renault has improved upon the haptic feel of the gearshift paddles in addition to cut shift times somewhat yet This kind of gearbox is actually still a long way through what the defining modern hot hatch deserves.
which has a decent manual gearbox, the Clio Trophy would likely have walked This kind of contest. your vehicle’s fluent, biddable handling in addition to beautifully weighted, gently communicative steering are both outstanding.
On track, This kind of’s easily the most natural, controllable in addition to engaging prospect here. This kind of shuns the contrived hyper-responsiveness of its rivals in addition to instead bleeds in towards every apex with just enough Centeng roll to load up its outside rear wheel, in addition to to neutralise its cornering attitude on a trailing throttle, giving its driver options. your vehicle never wants for stability. This kind of’s just balanced in addition to progressive enough to respond with some playful slip angle when you’ve had enough of slow in, fast out.
The Peugeot’s track handling can be playful, too. Fitted with wider tracks, shorter in addition to stiffer springs in addition to bigger rims than the standard GTi, the 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport is actually, in its own way, almost as engaging as the Clio. This kind of carries a much less delicate, less precise, more naughty temperament, though.
With just two full turns between locks, the steering is actually direct, heavy in addition to lively with feedback. Turn-in is actually more immediate than from the Clio in addition to front-end grip is actually a smidgen greater. Mid-corner stability is actually less secure, no doubt due to the overrun characteristics of your vehicle’s helical limited-slip differential.
Under power, that will diff gives the 208’s front wheels an unshakable hold on the asphalt, yet at various other times, This kind of makes the handling quite sudden in addition to unforgiving. Likewise, your vehicle’s stiff springing in addition to aggressive damping make This kind of a handful on a bumpy road.
Although the Mini in addition to Corsa are more fluent-riding in addition to easy-going on the road than the 208, they both fail to make a lasting dynamic impression. from the Mini’s case, This kind of isn’t for want of trying. The JCW’s ride is actually unexpectedly supple in addition to composed, provided you avoid Sport mode. Disappointing lateral grip levels in addition to the usual extra-fast, feedback-starved steering system ultimately leave you wanting more, though.
The Corsa feels more pragmatic than its rivals in addition to handles fast road driving quite well. We opted to test your vehicle in standard specification, without the stiffer springs, stickier tyres in addition to slippy diff of Vauxhall’s Performance Pack. On the track, that will made your vehicle frustratingly short on traction, in addition to relatively short on chassis response in addition to Centeng control. would likely This kind of have finished higher from the order in richer trim? Maybe, yet probably only by a place.
in addition to so, from the absence of the defining hot hatchback, the Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy gets the nod. Its chassis in addition to steering are very special indeed, at least partly redeeming what remains a flawed powertrain, in addition to outshining its nearest rivals quite plainly. yet This kind of’ll face a tougher contest against the Mazda MX-5 in addition to Civic Type R.
Mini John Cooper Works Auto
cost £24,380; Engine 4 cyls, 1998cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 228bhp at 5200-6000rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1250-4800rpm; Gearbox 6-speed automatic; Kerb weight 1295kg; 0-62mph 6.1sec; Top speed 153mph; Economy 49.6mpg; CO2/tax band 133g/km/21%
Vauxhall Corsa VXR
cost £18,245; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 202bhp at 5800rpm; Torque 207lb ft at 190-5800rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual; Kerb weight 1278kg; 0-62mph 6.5sec; Top speed 143mph; Economy 37.7mpg; CO2/tax band 174g/km/29%
Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport
cost £21,995; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 205bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 221lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual; Kerb weight 1160kg; 0-62mph 6.5sec; Top speed 143mph; Economy 52.3mpg; CO2/tax band 125g/km/20%
Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
cost £21,780; Engine 4 cyls, 1618cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 217bhp at 6050rpm; Torque 207lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed dual-clutch; Kerb weight 1204kg; 0-62mph 6.6sec; Top speed 146mph; Economy 47.9mpg; CO2/tax band 135g/km/22%
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