Head2Head: Renault Clio RS200 vs Subaru BRZ

Renault Clio RS200 Cup Trophy vs Subaru BRZ S

RENAULT CLIO RS200 CUP TROPHY - Score: 86/100

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
Renault’s top-spec seven-speed dual-clutch RS200 Cup Trophy gets more gear for $8355 less than the six-speed manual BRZ S. This includes rear camera and parking sensors, speed-limiter cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, leather upholstery, sat nav with 7in touchscreen and data-logging RS Monitor system. 17/20

INTERIOR AND VERSATILITY
Clio RS’s move from three to five doors boosts practicality and aesthetics. The driving position is high in contrast with the BRZ, but comfort and ergonomics are sound. Avant-garde Renault cabin is classier, but we’d back Subaru trim quality long-term. The boot is bigger with the seats upright, and smashes it with the seats folded. 17/20

PERFORMANCE AND ECONOMY
The effortless Clio 1.6 turbo hits peak torque at 1750rpm, almost 5000rpm earlier than the BRZ, but lacks the character of the early atmo RS 2.0-litre. Flat-out, there’s little between them – we’ve seen 0-100km/h in 7.0sec from the BRZ’s Toyota 86 twin and 6.9sec from the RS. On official figures, BRZ is thirstier – 7.8L/100km to 6.3. 17/20

RIDE AND REFINEMENT
Clio’s quieter cabin comes courtesy of the engine – the turbo muffles the exhaust, while bulging torque means big revs aren’t necessary. The BRZ pipes induction noise into the cabin and can’t match its rival’s NVH suppression. However, the Renault’s ride is less settled than the Subaru’s, especially in the ultimate Cup spec here. 17/20

STEERING AND HANDLING
The Clio’s steering weights up in ‘sport’ and ‘race’ modes, is quick, sharp, and connected to an adhesive front end, though isn’t in the realm of the BRZ in terms of feedback. The turbo front-driver doesn’t have the balanced weight distribution of the BRZ but canny chassis tuning and sticky rubber makes the Renault difficult to shake. 18/20

SUBARU BRZ S - Score: 84/100

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
S-Spec kit adds $7995 to the $37,150 BRZ but brings mechanical and cosmetic upgrades, including spoilers, skirts, diffuser, STi short-throw gear lever, lowered ride height, strut brace and black Enkei 17s. Not as well equipped as Clio, but has a full-size spare, self-levelling bi-xenon headlights and a driver’s knee airbag. 16/20

INTERIOR AND VERSATILITY
Two-door Subaru can’t hope to compete with the practicality offered by its five-door rival. But you sit low, legs straight, small-diameter sculpted steering wheel and stubby gear lever in your hands, and well-spaced pedals at your feet – excellent. Plus, two rear seats make the BRZ a second-car possibility for those with small kids. 15/20

PERFORMANCE AND ECONOMY
The BRZ equals its rival’s 147kW, but takes a further 1000 revs to get there. Lacking a turbo, the 1998cc FA20 engine falls 35Nm short of the Clio’s 240Nm and fails to match its flexibility. Induction soundtrack is pedestrian at low revs, but ripens to a nice rorty note beyond 5000rpm, where the boxer is best kept for quick progress. 16/20

RIDE AND REFINEMENT
Perhaps the most worthwhile S pack upgrade is a set of coil springs, which lower the coupe’s centre of gravity. Presumably they’re stiffer to prevent bottoming out – shorter springs invariably are. That’s certainly how they feel, though the standard dampers aren’t out of their depth, and ride remains tautly absorbent. 17/20

STEERING AND HANDLING
In S spec, the BRZ is more focused on corner speed than going sideways thanks to the flexible front strut brace in concert with the shorter, stiffer springs. The reduction in pitch and roll makes the Subaru an even more precise tool; driver’s mainline feel via one of the world’s most intimately connected steering systems. 20/20

VERDICT

THE Subaru BRZ S is a car you must drive if you’re so much as considering buying one – and not just around the block. To discount the calibre of its dynamics might be to view it as a cramped 2+2 with a tiny boot and a torque-deprived de-turboed WRX engine. That could easily seem the case against the Clio Renaultsport 200 Cup Trophy. The French firebrand gives you more equipment for less money, a trio of extra doors, more space, welcome torque, and considerably greater practicality – it’s the more liveable proposition. Meanwhile, the Subie will win on resale and, likely, reliability, yet it’s also the one for those whose hearts make the call.

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