The idea behind a hot hatch is simple: offer drivers almost supercar levels of performance and drivability on a twisty B Road, for the price of an everyday family hatchback.
So, if you’re in the market for a flame-spitting family shopping trolley that will show you the time of your life when you give it a sniff of country backroad, which car do you choose?
We’ve analysed the stats and facts for both cars to bring you an informative side-by-side comparison of these two pocket-rockets to help you with the decision making process.
If it wasn’t for the sporty Recaro seats, you would have a hard time differentiating the interior of the ST from those offered in standard Fiestas. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that this isn’t a nice car to be sat in, however. Those seats are incredibly comfortable and supportive, and offer a brilliant driving position that critics have labelled as being one of the best in class.
The majority of controls in the car are well-placed, and the instruments are clear and easy to read. One downfall identified by critics is that some of the buttons for the Sony stereo were awkward to use, but on the whole, the Fiesta ST is a car that is well set up to accommodate sporty driving.
The Clio offers plenty of RS badges, and chunky sports seats to lend the car a more performance oriented atmosphere. Critics also like the smartly designed dashboard that offers a clever combination of digital and analogue dials.
However, where the Fiesta feels relatively solid and well put together, the same cannot be said of the Clio. Testers were frustrated by the fact that the interior of the car felt low-rent and cheaply made, which is a pity considering the Clio costs more to buy than the Fiesta.
Practicality may be one area where the Fiesta fails in comparison compared to the Clio, since it is only offered in three-door form. That said, this is still a Fiesta at heart, meaning that the ST retains the 290-litre boot offered on its more humble siblings. With the rear seats folded down, boot capacity can be increased to 974 litres. The Fiesta also offers plenty of cubby holes and drink holders that make it easy to store those odd bits and pieces.
The bulky Recaro sports seats don’t compromise rear space too much, but even so, the back of the Fiesta wouldn’t be the best place for a fully grown adult to spend a great deal of time. Those seats also make it a wee bit difficult to get into the back of the car as well.
Because the Clio comes with five doors, getting in and out is a much easier task than it is in the Fiesta. It also makes for more room in the cabin, meaning that rear seat passengers are also offered a greater deal of comfort in the Clio than they are in the Fiesta.
The Clio also has one of the biggest boots in class, offering 300 litres of storage space. Still, that is only 10 more litres than the Fiesta, so it probably won’t be a deal-breaking factor when it comes to deciding between the two.
This is where these two cars should really come into their element, since the driving experiences they offer are what people buy cars like this for. The Fiesta has been crowned by numerous car reviewers as being the most enjoyable hot hatch available – which comes as a huge blow to the Clio.
The class-leading chassis from the standard Fiesta has been enhanced on the ST by having faster steering and increased stiffness – making it roll less in corners than a regular Fiesta. Critics have gone on record saying that these improvements mean the Fiesta ST offers a sensational driving experience.
The only criticism that they had was the hard ride around town, although this was easily forgiven as it translated into superb body control when the car is driven at speed. And make no mistake, the Fiesta ST is a car made to be driven enthusiastically.
While the Fiesta ST is constantly praised for offering a sublime driving experience, the same cannot really be said of the Clio RS 200. Critics have labelled this car as a being a bit of a mixed bag – saying that while it offers plenty of grip in corners, had well-weighted steering and excellent body control, it was still not as fun to drive as the Fiesta.
Another aspect of the Clio that testers took issue with was the standard automatic EDC double-clutch gearbox, and the lack of a manual option. Critics label the automatic as being clunky and dim-witted when using the paddles for downshifts, and were not impressed with the fact that this made it hard to access the full performance potential of the car.
The Fiesta ST comes with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, that offers up a rather lovely 182hp, and will get you from 0-60mph in an impressive 6.7 seconds. For those with a spare £599 lying around, you can even add a Ford-approved Mountune upgrade, which will increase horsepower to 212hp and leave your warranty intact.
Economy is rather impressive too, with the Fiesta offering an official fuel consumption figure of 47.9mpg. Further adding to the Fiesta’s list of accolades is the fact that this engine also sounds great, and delivers its power incredibly smoothly, leading reviewers to say that this car is “usefully quick, rather than rabid.”
The Clio also comes equipped with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, although in this car it offers 200hp. This allows the Clio to complete the 0-60mph dash in 6.7 seconds, which is the same as the Fiesta. Economy isn’t bad either, with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 44.8mpg – although testers could only manage 36.8mpg.
Although the performance figures are comparable on paper, in the real world the Clio struggles to keep up with the Fiesta. Critics have highlighted that because of the cars bulk, the Clio fails to feel fast enough, and were also disappointed with the dull engine sound.
Value for money
Having looked at the comparison between these two cars, you would be excused if you thought that the Fiesta ST was the more expensive car – seeing as it outperforms the Clio RS 200 in almost every category.
Rather surprisingly though, an entry-level Fiesta ST is close to £2,000 cheaper than the equivalent car from Renault. This significant saving makes the Fiesta a steal, especially when you consider the fact that this is one of the most highly praised drivers cars around.
The Clio is by no-means a bad car, when compared to the Fiesta it struggles to compete. The Fiesta is better to drive, cheaper to buy, and cheaper to run.
That being said, the Clio is well equipped, and is slightly more practical than the Fiesta thanks to its bigger boot and five-door set up. When you think about it though, £2,000 does seem like a rather large sum of money to be paying for a set of extra doors.
If it were our money, we would have to go for the Fiesta ST. As far as hot hatchbacks go, this really does have all of the bases covered. Not only does it offer greater economy figures and a cheaper buy in price, according to critics it also offers one of the best drives money can currently buy.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Clio is a bad car though, it too offers enjoyable drivability and decent economy figures combined with everyday practicality. It just so happens that the competition that it is up against is one of the most highly praised cars available today.