New Punto vs. Clio

The heat is on as Fiat’s new turbo-powered Punto Evo comes face to face with its Renault Clio rival

New Punto vs. Clio

Think of an Evo-badged model and the first thing that springs to mind is no doubt a wild, rally-bred Mitsubishi saloon. However, the latest car to wear the famous tag is a little more low-key: the Fiat Punto Evo.

The newcomer is a subtle evolution of the Italian firm’s stylish supermini. Updated looks and a revamped interior are the most obvious changes, but it’s under the bonnet where the most radical tweaks have been made.

A range of clever MultiAir turbo engines and Start&Stop technology promise to revitalise the Punto and take it to the head of the class. The most exciting model in the line-up is the new 135bhp 1.4-litre Sporting, which aims to combine hot hatch pace and driving fun with entry-level running costs. Available only as a three-door, it hits showrooms priced £15,295.

Standing between the Punto and the top step of the podium is the £14,285 Renault Clio GT. Featuring a sharp chassis and an enthusiastic 1.6-litre engine, the French machine promises to deliver a large chunk of the driving thrills offered by the firm’s faster Renaultsport Clio 200, but at a fraction of the cost.

So, which of our contenders is the natural selection for pocket rocket buyers on a budget?

Verdict

BOTH of our rivals aim to deliver driving thrills with small bills. The trend for ever more powerful and pricey hot hatches means the low-cost Clio and Punto are much closer in spirit to the original VW Golf GTI and famous Peugeot 205 GTi. As a junior pocket rocket, the Punto certainly has a lot to recommend it. The combination of racy looks and punchy turbocharged engine will make it a surefire hit with buyers seeking the most performance per pound. Low emissions, decent fuel economy and plenty of standard kit merely help to sweeten the deal. However, it is driving fun which counts here, and that means the Evo has to give best to the Renault. With its sharp chassis and keen engine, the Clio never fails to raise a smile on a favourite back road. Add in its lower list price, better residuals and classier cabin, and the French machine takes a comfortable victory.

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