Car group tests

Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red Edition vs Renault Clio GT-Line

Which of these warm hatches offers more bang for your buck?

It’s not just in the world of fashion that savvy shoppers search for a bargain to get the latest style for less. Take a look in new car showrooms and you’ll find a new breed of sporty superminis that delivers high-octane thrills without the usual hot hatchback bills.

The latest arrivals are the Ford Red and Black twins. Based on the already sporty Zetec S, these newcomers combine the racy looks and sharp handling of the brilliant ST with a tuned 138bhp version of the brand’s excellent 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost turbo engine. 

In the blue corner is the Renault Clio GT-Line, with a punchy yet frugal 1.2-litre engine. So which of our cut-price pocket rockets serves up the biggest thrills for the smallest bills?

Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red Edition review

Renault Clio GT-Line review

Follow the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to find out which warm hatch comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Gearboxes

The Renault and Ford take very different approaches to changing gear. The Clio GT-Line features a six-speed twin-clutch box that works in automatic mode, or via steering column-mounted paddles. 

However, the transmission is slow to respond to commands via the paddles, taking the edge off driver enjoyment. By contrast, the Fiesta’s simple five-speed manual delivers a slick, positive shift that encourages you to change gear.

Practicality

These cars are designed to deliver fun on a budget, but they also have to be easy to use every day. In this respect, the Clio is a more versatile choice, with its five-door layout and bigger boot. However, the Fiesta hits back with more useful interior storage and a better driving position.

Running costs

As a hot hatch that costs peanuts to run, the Ford makes more sense. It emits less CO2 than the Renault, at 104g/km, meaning lower tax for company car users and private buyers. Our experts predict the cheaper Fiesta will be worth around £1,200 more than the Clio in three years’ time, too. 

Verdict

1st place: Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red Edition 

When it comes to fun on a budget, the Fiesta takes some beating. By combining sharp handling with eager performance, the Red and Black editions guarantee driving thrills whatever the occasion. The Ford is also sleekly styled and backed by impressively low running costs – although fuel economy could be better. And while it’s not as well equipped as the Renault, it’s available with attractively priced options. 

2nd place: Renault Clio GT-Line

The warmed over Clio looks good on paper and in the showroom, but it fails to live up to its promise. The main culprit is the lacklustre drivetrain, which features a limp engine and a gearbox that lacks the smooth and decisive changes of the best units. And it’s not as grippy as the Ford in corners, either. The Renault is also more expensive to buy and run, but the five-door layout does make it a practical choice.

Key specs: 

 Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red EditionRenault Clio GT-Line 120 EDC
On-the-road price/total as tested£16,145/£16,670£17,395/£18,900
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£7,217/44.7%£6,001/34.5%
Depreciation£8,928£11,394
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£418/£837£589/£1,179
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,739/£2,899£1,739/£2,899
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost18/£303/B/£2014/£309/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£550 (3yrs)£299 (4yrs)
   
Length/wheelbase3,982/2,489mm4,077/2,589mm
Height/width1,468/1,709mm1,441/1,732mm
Engine3cyl in-line/999cc4cyl in-line/1,197cc
Peak power138/6,000 bhp/rpm118/4,900 bhp/rpm
Peak torque180/1,400 Nm/rpm190/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission5-spd man/fwd6-spd auto/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel42 litres/sealant45 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)290/974 litres300/1,146 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,091/459/900kg1,186/402/1,200kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.1 metres/N/A10.6 metres/0.42Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr4yrs (100,000)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 (1yr)/73118,000 (1yr)/153
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.25th/27th15th/12th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars91/86/65/588/89/66/5
   
0-60/30-70mph8.6/8.2 secs10.2/10.2 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th4.0/5.2 secs4.5/6.2 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th8.3 secs/N/A9.7/14.8 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph125mph/3,000rpm121mph/2,700rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph48.6/35.9/9.2m44.8/34.2/8.4m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph61/45/63/72dB63/45/63/71dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range34.5/7.6/319 miles30.0/6.6/297 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined50.4/72.4/62.8mpg42.8/64.0/54.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined11.1/15.9/13.8mpl9.4/14.1/11.9mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket189/104g/km/13%218/120g/km/17%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/£200/noSix/yes/£275/£250
Automatic box/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/£150Yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats£275/no/£175£410/£1,250/£1,250^
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless goNo/no/no£495/no/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£500/yes/£100/yesYes/yes/£240/yes

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