BEHIND THE WHEEL:
WEDNESDAY MAY 25, 2015
Renault Clio RS
v Ford Fiesta ST
Mini Cooper S, Golf GTi, Audi A1, and the list goes on. These famous hatches have been ruling the streets with their practicality and sharp handling. With that, Renault has made a Clio RS200. Unlike before, it is now packed with a turbocharged 1.6 litres instead of a naturally aspirated unit that revs to 7200 rpm. It has also got a screen that shows you everything that is happening with the feeling almost like a Nissan GTR with additional two doors. Ford on the other hand, entered the competition a little later by going old school with the Fiesta ST.
First off, the RS200 allows driver to choose their driving mode only by a push of a button. Leave in sport and the car becomes sharper and the engine revs higher. Whilst it is fun to drive, it also requires familiarity as well. The reason lies in sport mode, the ESC turns off when you shift it to manual and turns back on in normal auto mode.
As much as I love the informative system such as the MMI from Audi, the one in the Clio is just too confusing and one certainly have to take their eyes off the road to make sure the right program is selected. I decided to ignore it, and after a round of driving, I must compliment its braking ability and body hugging seats. However, as the front passenger feels hugged, the rear passenger has upright and non-body hugging seats.
Personally, I love cars that grant me complete control since I enjoy shifting gears myself. With that, the FordFiesta ST meets that very criterion. Like the RS, it also has a 1.6-litre turbo engine. Unlike the Clio, the engine in the Ford is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Simply put, how this little car drives puts me into euphoria.
The 0.2 seconds acceleration deficit is quickly overlooked when one is having so much fun. Ride is stiff and thanks to its torque vectoring system, no torque steer was detected. Despite being a front wheel drive, it certainly feels rear driven as the back hints to come around. Disabling traction control in the Fiesta is a lot easier than the RS200 with a press on a button.
In manual transmissions, there should be a ‘click’ when one gear is swapped from another which is missing in the ST. Even so, gear shifts are easy yet rewarding. Another good about the ST is that comes with two doors, giving it a sportier look. It too comes with Recaro bucket seats.
Getting larger people in and out of the rear is not as difficult as you might think. Furthermore, its rear seats provide more comfort than those in the RS. Well, there is a downside to this exciting machine and that is having to reach like an ape for its seat belts. The reason is long coupe doors that allow rear passengers to enter and exit easily.
After driving both cars, it is pretty evident that Clio RS200 is doing most of the driving. The driver will need to first set its complicated system up then a lot of the heavy lifting will be done by the car. What about the Ford then? The Ford throws all of that out asks of you to have your own fun. All you need to do is drive.
Doing some occasional burnouts does add to the fun in car ownership. To sum it all up, both these cars have their ways. While the Clio is as fun as a PlayStation, the Fiesta gets up and leave without hesitation. Price aside, the ST leaves your passengers smiling and a little more.
Hatches in general were never my thing as I’m more into things that does the bends quickly and look naughty while standing still.
At a more than reasonably asking price, the Fiesta ST rides fairly well for what it is capable of. I am genuinely pleased by the sounds that's produced by a mighty 1.6-litre engine which by the way, is turbocharging done right. The ST (like the mark five Golf GTi) did no less damage by running through my mind for several nights. It will not only remain as the best car I’ve driven this year but for years to come.