**Renault Clio Gordini
List price when new £14,000
Price today £5995*
Available from 2010-2012
Renault has built some of the most legendary hot hatchbacks over the years, but does this little Clio Gordini, in its milder tune, live up to them?
List price when new £13,495
Price today £6200*
The Swift Sport is a fast, fun and lightweight pocket rocket in the best hot hatch traditions
Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
For sheer driving pleasure, there’s little to match the smaller hot hatches. They’re cute, nippy, practical and fun, and you can extract real driving pleasure from them at the sort of speeds that won’t land you in trouble with the law. These two embody all of those good qualities. The Renault Clio Gordini is at heart a cheaper and insurance-friendly version of the storming Renaultsport 200 Cup, with a milder 128bhp 1.6-litre engine. The Suzuki Swift Sport packs a zingy 134bhp 1.6-litre engine and sharp responses into its compact package. Back in the day, the Swift Sport was the newcomer, chasing the established Clio Gordini for its crown. It did so well that we not only gave it the garlands, it also went on to become incredibly popular and sell extremely well, while this lower-powered sporting Clio petered out. But how do they stack up now as used propositions? Read on and we’ll reveal all.
What are they like to drive?
These cars prove that you don’t need lots of power to have fun. The Swift’s 134bhp isn’t much in our modern hot hatch world that is now dominated by 200bhp-plus monsters, while the Clio musters only 128bhp. Neither gives its best until nearly 7000rpm either, but wringing the necks of these cars is half the fun. That’s particularly true in the Swift, because its engine loves to be thrashed. The close-ratio six-speed gearbox makes it easy to keep the engine on song, and the Swift’s low weight makes up for its so-so 134bhp. No wonder, then, that it felt much friskier in our tests, hitting 60mph in less than eight seconds.
The Clio is 100kg heavier so is a lot slower, although it’s still nippy enough to keep you entertained. It’s a shame that the engine sounds so plain when revved; the Swift’s plays a much sportier tune.
Outright pace is only half the story, though, because hot hatches need to be fun through the corners. Thankfully, the Swift is a riot, with an agile chassis, plenty of grip and sharp, accurate steering. The best bit is that it gets you involved at legal speeds.
The Clio grips just as hard and actually leans slightly less, but it doesn’t engage you in the same way because there’s less feedback through the steering. The fact that the Clio is significantly slower also means you need a long run at any corner to even get close to the limits of grip.
Despite their sporty pretentions, both cars have surprisingly supple suspension set-ups that soak up bumps and potholes well. That keeps the tyres in contact with the road when you’re pushing hard on less-than-perfect roads and makes the cars easier to live with when you’re done having fun.
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