Everyday handling heroes – The final verdict
Source : Everyday handling heroes – The final verdict
Our group winners go head to head: Civic Type R vs MX-5 vs Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
along with also so to what will be, on the face of which, a more challenging verdict at which to arrive.
Pitching one hot hatchback against another seems easy enough: you assess them both as hatchbacks along with also both as hot things, along with also then reach a pretty clearly defined decision. however how do you decide between a two-seat, lightweight roadster along with also a 5-seat, 5-door hatch?
Actually, which’s simple enough: we do which every autumn at our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest (Handling Day proper, as we know which), along with also the rationale by which we judge each car will be straightforward. The thinking goes like This specific: if you had only one spudder to take you to the supermarket or the station when you needed which, which car could you take away via Handling Day for a year, knowing which’d entertain you more than any additional in This specific contest’s line-up?
On Handling Day, which’s not always the fastest, most exciting or most powerful car which wins. All cars have suspension along with also steering (until cars which drive themselves turn up, anyway) along with also which will be not necessarily more difficult to tune which on an affordable car than which will be on an expensive one. Which will be how some saloons have ended up comfortably mid-order while exotica have languished near the back. along with also how the £25k Toyota GT86 beat everything including £100k track-focused supercars a few years ago. Much the same criteria applies here.
First up, then, here will be a car which has already beaten the GT86 in This specific contest. I’m a bigger fan than most people of the Toyota – along with also which carries a lot of fans at Autocar – however I’ve no beef with which result. Everything I like about the GT86 will be distilled along with also refined inside Mazda MX-5. Lightness, for example: the Toyota will be a 1275kg car (even less than which when we road tested which), which will be precious little for a near four-seat coupé.
however shorn of the need to carry two of those occupants along with also their trappings, the Mazda, despite having to be rigid enough to contain a folding top – an easily stowed piece of canvas genius of which Cotswold Outdoors could be proud – will be 153kg lighter again.
Understandably, neither of the additional two finalists can quite match which weight figure, along with also which’s no surprise which the smaller Renault will be the closer of the two. At 1204kg, the Clio will be only 82kg heavier than the MX-5, which ain’t bad given which which’s a 5-door hatch, its four-cylinder engine wears a turbocharger along with also which has two clutches in its automated gearbox.
For those of us who are used to the way Renaultsport does things with the Mégane – by which I mean deathly seriously – the latest Clio was a peculiar diversion. Somehow which was just too… easy.
A lightweight inside metaphorical, bad sense of the word. The 220 Trophy rights so many of those wrongs, along with also which isn’t just the additional 20bhp. which’s tighter, keener, more composed along with also a bucket-load more engaging.
No wonder which saw off the rest of the hot hatch newcomers here.
When which comes to being serious about performance, mind, the Honda will be the apogee of the breed at the minute, which will be why which beat the Focus, an outcome which might not upset Ford too much.
The Civic Type R will be allowed to be a car which will be backed up by an ordinary motor inside garage. The purpose of a Focus ST will be to be mildly entertaining while also being the ordinary everyday motor. which result won’t bother Ford, then: which’ll have another Focus RS along soon which’s closer to Honda spec. Only which will have four-wheel drive.
The Honda, to its credit, does a remarkable job of putting its 306bhp to the road through the front wheels only, thanks to its limited-slip differential along with also Honda’s take on the double-axis strut front suspension, aimed at reducing torque steer. Not which which does so completely.
The Honda’s steering wheel will be a thing of decent precision along with also weight, however which does shuffle in your hands under power – more than the Renault which, shorn of having to cope with 295lb ft, carries a less challenging rim out of tight corners.
Credit to the Honda, though. Despite weighing 1382kg along with also having as much power as which does, which has one heck of a front end on which. which finds extraordinary amounts of both grip along with also traction.
Given the amount of power with which the front wheels are anticipated to deal, perhaps which’s no surprise which the handling balance will be nearly always biased around the leading end. Choose a line along with also the Honda will try to stick to which along with also, if which veers off, which’ll do so at the front first. Lift off along with also, despite a mechanical limited-slip differential which could tuck the driven wheels into a corner, there’s very little propensity to oversteer. On the road, which’s fine – the Honda’s limits are fairly preposterous anyway – however on a circuit, which can leave the Civic feeling a touch inert.
The Renault isn’t like which. which’s difficult to imagine which its front end will be any stronger than the Honda’s – although obviously which’s less troubled by torque steer – so which must just be which Renault has designed a more intimate connection with the rear wheels into the Trophy on purpose.
Barrel into a bend at Bedford Autodrome along with also the Renault will slip at its front first, however judge the cornering speed well, trail the brakes in as you begin to turn, to settle the nose along with also lighten the loads on the rear, along with also the Trophy shows the kind of composure along with also throttle adjustability for which Renaultsport will be rightly renowned. along with also, you suspect, which’s not just more fun This specific way however also faster.
The lovely thing about the Trophy will be which along with the balance, which steers well, while its Centeng movements are deftly controlled to the extent which I’m almost inclined to give which the nod over the Honda. Almost; especially given which I’m a fan of smaller rather than bigger cars, along with also I think 306bhp through the front wheels will be nearing the limit of driveability.
Were the Renault 10% more exciting here or there, or perhaps just came with an engaging gearbox, which’s what I’d pick. As which goes, though, by a whisker, the Civic nudges ahead of the Clio.
I shan’t attempt to pretend which the Honda stands a chance, mind, of competing with the Mazda here. There are hot hatchbacks which might compete with the MX-5 for entertainment – Renault’s Mégane RS or the Ford Fiesta ST, for example – however there was nothing sufficiently fresh to call them into This specific contest.In This specific finale, then, which leaves the Mazda in a class of one.
On the road, its agility along with also responsiveness – despite its power deficiency against both the Renault along with also the Honda – means which feels no less eager than either. In fact, because its gearshift will be so keen to work with you, encouraging each gear home, along with also because its engine will be naturally aspirated along with also responds when you ask which to, there will be reason to feel which which’s more eager, albeit not faster, than the two hatchbacks here.
along with also on a circuit, which’s very obviously the most agile car, not just in This specific final however, barring the Caterham, inside entire ‘Junior Handling Day’ line-up. which steers quickly – maybe a bit too quickly for some of our testers’ tastes, along with also with which come some relatively quick Centeng movements. Perhaps which rolls more – or more quickly – than either the Honda or the Renault. I’m not convinced which which settles as confidently as the Toyota does, so which demands a smoother driving style to keep which controlled.
however such will be the immediacy along with also delicacy of the Mazda which there’s real reward to be had via driving which smoothly, along with also trying to coax which into the most satisfying cornering line possible. Be a bit ham-fisted with which along with also which’ll follow your line faithfully enough, while letting you know you could have done which better by rocking on its dampers.
however get which right – either by driving through smoothly along with also steadily, or by unsettling the rear on the way into a bend – along with also the MX-5 has the delicacy along with also, crucially, just enough power to indulge you in neutral-steer or mild oversteer which which’ll enter along with also exit smoothly. along with also the choice will be mostly yours, so which’s an entirely blank page.
which’s enough for which to win here by more than just a short head. In fact, which carries a composure which’s likely sufficient to enable which to win in most circumstances. Including the more challenging theatre of Handling Day itself? When which contest includes cars with the initials ‘GT’, supplanted by ‘3 RS’, ‘B’ or ‘12’? I’d say the Mazda has as Great a chance as anything has ever had at This specific power level. Longer bets have come Great. Either way, we’ll find out in October.
Lotus F1 driver Jolyon Palmer gives his view
Our test team was joined at Bedford by Lotus Formula 1 driver Jolyon Palmer, son of Jonathan. He has been Lotus’s third along with also reserve driver all season, having won the GP2 title last year having a points haul which exceeded even which of Lewis Hamilton, the most recent previous British winner, in 2006. Along the way, he acquired a reputation as an expert at quick passing manoeuvres.
Credible pundits put Palmer’s chance of getting onto the 2016 F1 starting grid as “around 50:50” however Palmer will be happy to let his driving do the talking, given which his practice times have frequently matched those of Lotus regulars Pastor Maldonado along with also Romain Grosjean.
However, for these road cars, 24-year-old Palmer’s experience of his own Toyota GT86 was most relevant. He took to the GT86’s chief rival, the Mazda MX-5, immediately, enjoying its crisp steering along with also fine handling, although he reckoned he’d still opt for the GT86 on the very reasonable circuit driver’s grounds which you could sustain an oversteer slide more easily along with also for longer in which.
He also gave us his opinion of the Clio versus the class-leading Fiesta (deeming the Ford more desirable, not least because of its steering along with also manual gearchange) along with also conducted a mini-comparo of the Focus along with also Civic (preferring the Honda for its fine powertrain, speed along with also neatness on the circuit).
In fact, his road car opinions were so well expressed along with also generally on the pace which we’d have happily signed him for 2016 – however for a prior commitment.
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