The cars

* Our adventures with two French hot hatches * The Citroen DS3 and Renault Megane Renaulsport * Our verdicts revealed, here...

The cars

When it comes to chasing hot-hatch buyers, Citron and Renault have totally different approaches. Citron majors on French design flair with a hint of quirky, while Renault focuses on driving thrills to keep the hardcore enthusiast happy.

This creates different types of hot hatch, but do they successfully nail the hot-hatch formula: something fun, practical and reasonably affordable? To find out we chose each manufacturers best hot hatch, the Citron DS3 1.6 THP and the Renault Mgane Renaultsport.

The differences were clear when it came to speccing our cars. The DS3 was available in 38 colour combinations, including different colours for the body, roof and wheels. In the end we settled for red bodywork, a white roof and black wheels.

You get plenty of kit with DSport-spec DS3s, so we added just one option: the 1100 MyWay City Signature pack. It was excellent value, bringing sat-nav, climate control, automatic headlights and Bluetooth.

Our favourite Mgane is the value-packed 250 Cup model, but we wanted the extra toys of the higher-spec 250, so thats the one we went for. We didnt stop there, though. The Cup model has lower, stiffer suspension and a traction-boosting limited-slip differential that makes it the best hot hatch to drive, so we added those and a set of leather Recaro sports seats for 1900.

Next came swivelling xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights for 750, an upgraded stereo at 360, front parking sensors for 310 (rear sensors are standard) and 300 of Renaultsport monitor, which allows you to adjust the throttle response and see the oil temperature and real-time engine performance. At least the yellow paint (one of just seven colours) didnt cost a penny because it was non-metallic.