Renaultsport Clio 200 vs SEAT Ibiza SC Cupra

24 Sep, 2013 10:00am

Renaultsport Clio 200 meets facelifted SEAT IBiza Cupra in pocket rocket head-to-head

In recent years, the hot hatch landscape has changed beyond recognition. The quest for even greater performance has meant a huge increase in the popularity of turbocharged engines, while more and more manufacturers are ditching traditional manual gearboxes in favour of faster, F1-inspired twin-clutch transmissions.

One of the first brands to embrace these hi-tech gearboxes was SEAT, with its Ibiza Cupra in 2009. Now, the rakish hatch has had a refresh. Tweaked looks, an upgraded interior and more kit provide greater showroom appeal, while under the skin is the same turbo and supercharged 1.4-litre engine.

Facing up to the SEAT is the new Renaultsport Clio. Like the Ibiza, it’s available exclusively with a twin-clutch gearbox, but it ditches its predecessor’s rev-hungry, naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine in favour of a turbocharged 1.6-litre that delivers the same power, but with much improved claimed fuel economy.

 • Renaulsport Clio 200 review

 • SEAT Ibiza Cupra review 

That’s not the only major change, because the old car’s aggressively styled three-door body has been replaced by a sleek and stylish five-door look. The Clio has already been defeated by the Ford Fiesta ST, but with its eye-catching looks, agile handling and dual-clutch gearbox, it’s a challenging rival for the facelifted SEAT. So, which of our two-pedal pocket rockets takes the spoils?

1st Renaultsport Clio 200

The latest Clio isn’t the last word in fun, but it’s still fast and capable. The sophisticated suspension strikes a balance between sharp handling and comfort, while the five-door bodystyle makes the Renault easy to live with. It’s short on kit and more expensive to buy, but a broader spread of abilities hands it victory.

2nd SEAT Ibiza SC Cupra

With its head-turning looks, strong performance and attractive price tag, the SEAT has bags of showroom appeal. It’s also well equipped and benefits from a sporty soundtrack. Yet the vague handling and stiff ride count against it, as do the cramped rear seats, small boot and poor fuel economy.

Handling champ?

Hot hatches should be fun to drive, but neither of our contenders is as entertaining as a Ford Fiesta ST. Sophisticated dampers and strong grip make the Renault faster and help it inspire more confidence than the SEAT, which is let down by a crashy ride and slightly vague steering. You can also alter the Clio’s throttle response and steering via its RS Drive function, plus it’s possible to disable the stability control fully for track days.


These cars are closely matched in terms of performance. The 197bhp Clio uses its power advantage to deliver a faster 0-60mph time, at 6.7 seconds to the Ibiza’s 6.9 seconds. Still, the torquey SEAT edged ahead in our in-gear tests.

In-car technology

Gadget fans will love the Clio’s R-Link and Renaultsport Monitor kit, both of which are available on the £19,995 Lux. The former includes a sound generator that uses the stereo speakers to mimic the engine notes of a range of cars. With the £295 Monitor, you get displays of everything from lap times to the g-forces the car generates. SEAT buyers have to make do with a neatly integrated sat-nav, which has a comprehensive trip computer.

Renaultsport Clio 200 SEAT Ibiza Cupra
On the road price/total as tested £18,995/£22,595 £18,765/£21,215
Depreciation £7,883/41.5% £7,506/40.0%
Running costs/contract hire £11,112 £11,259
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £752/£1,504 £706/£1,412
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £2,768/£4,613 £2,908/£4,847
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 29/£342/F/£140 27/£326/E/£125
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service 4yrs free £169/£189/£129
Length/wheelbase 4,062/2,589mm 4,055/2,469mm
Height/width 1,448/1,731mm 1,420/1,693mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,618cc 4cyl in-line/1,390cc
Peak power 197/6,000 bhp/rpm 178/6,200 bhp/rpm
Peak torque  240/1,750 Nm/rpm 250/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission  6-spd auto/fwd 7-spd auto/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 45 litres/sealant 45 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (seats up/down)  300/1,146 litres 236 litres/N/A
Kerbweight/payload 1,204/507kg 1,259/411kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 4yrs (100,000)/4yrs 3yrs (60,000)/2yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers 12k miles (2yrs) /248 10k miles (1yr)/120
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 21st/9th 27th/31st
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars 88/89/66/5 star 82/77/59/5 star
0-60/30-70mph 6.7/5.8 secs 6.9/5.9 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th  3.0/4.5 secs 2.8/3.5 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th  6.3/8.2 secs/N/A 5.2/6.8/8.8 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph  143mph/2,500rpm 142mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 45.0/32.0/8.8m 47.0/35.0/8.9m
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 27.0/5.9/267 miles 25.7/5.7/254 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 34.9/55.4/44.8mpg 37.7/55.4/47.9mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  7.7/12.2/9.9mpl 8.4/12.2/10.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 242/144g/km/20% 254/139g/km/19%
Airbags/Isofix/rear parking sensors Six/yes/£315 Four/yes/£215
Air-conditioning/leather/heated seats Yes/£1,250/£1,250 Yes/£785/£340
Automatic box/stability/cruise control Yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go £495/no/yes £450/yes/no
Sat-nav/USB connection/Bluetooth Yes/yes/yes Yes/no/yes