12/04/2007 00:00 | By By Henry Biggs and Ian Dickson

Twin-test: Renaultsport Clio 197 v Mini Cooper S review



Renaultsport Clio 197 v Mini Cooper S (© image © James Lipman)

We were fortunate enough to have largely missed the 1970s, having been born at the tail-end of the decade that taste forgot.

We never encountered kipper ties, flares, three-day weeks, power cuts, prog rock, the Morris Marina, Terry and June or disco; for which we are truly grateful. However that’s not to say it was all bad, the decade also gave us Jaws, Alien, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, punk, Porridge, the World Trade Centre and of course the hot hatchback.

GALLERY: Renaultsport Clio 197 v Mini Cooper S

Renaultsport Clio 197 v Mini Cooper S (© image © James Lipman)

Click images to enlarge, more below. Pictures by James Lipman

The hot hatchback was born (we can thankfully gloss over the 1960s Simca 1100) when a group of Volkswagen engineers decided to place a fuel injected 1.6-litre engine into the company’s new small hatchback, the Golf. Instantly a new genre was created, a simple, practical and lightweight design with a wheel-at-each-corner for great handling allied to a punchy engine – the “People’s Porsche” as it was dubbed. The problem is, everything has got a lot more complicated since then, the current Golf GTI weighs nearly twice as much as the original and has to pack double the punch as a result. It’s also a lot more grown up – the “parent’s Porsche” if you will.

Renaultsport Clio 197 v Mini Cooper S (© image © James Lipman)

So where do we find the successors to that original hot hatchback, what now offers the point and squirt handling, the grins-per-mile factor, the rollerskate ride that combines to say, “I’m not ready to grow up yet”? The answer lies in the class below the Golf and its rival the Focus ST and Astra VXR, what we might dub the “pocket-rockets”. Smaller, though not necessarily cheaper, these machines often pack almost as much power while feeling nimbler, more eager, more, in a word, fun. The old supercharged Mini Cooper S and the Renault Clio 192 were past masters of the genre so we thought we would pit their replacements, the now turbocharged Cooper S and naturally aspirated Clio 197 against one another.

Henry's view of the Renaultsport Clio 197

Henry's view of the Renaultsport Clio 197 (© image © James Lipman)

Click the picture for the full story

Engine
2.0-litre, petrol
Power (bhp)
197
Torque (lb/ft)
161
0-62mph (secs)
6.9
Top speed (mph)
134
Combined MPG
31.7
CO2 (g/km)/tax (%) 
209/26
Price as tested
£15,995

Ian's view of the Cooper S

Ian's view of the Cooper S (© image © James Lipman/MSN)

Click the picture for the full story

Engine
1.6-litre, petrol, turbocharged
Power (bhp)
175
Torque (lb/ft)
191
0-62mph (secs)
7.1
Top speed (mph)
140
Combined MPG
40.9
CO2 (g/km)/tax (%)
164/19
Price as tested
£21,040

With thanks to The Raceway, Docklands

Click for more information about The Raceway

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