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?
Follow the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to find out which warm hatch comes out on top...
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red Edition
|Renault Clio GT-Line 120 EDC
|On-the-road price/total as tested
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel
|45 litres/space saver
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)
|Turning circle/drag coefficient
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery
|Service intervals/UK dealers
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th
|50-70mph in 5th/6th
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket
|Automatic box/stability/cruise control
|Climate control/leather/heated seats
|Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go