The Road Ahead : August 2014
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 47 AUG/SEP 2014 THE ROAD AHEAD to carry and the MINI feels lithe, though well planted. Our test car came with optional sports suspension, and this no doubt enhanced its handling prowess, though not at the cost of the ride being harsh. I, for one, thought the Cooper S rode best of the bunch. The leather and cloth front sports seats support well and are comfortable, though rear seat passengers will find space tight despite the new MINI's larger dimensions. Dual-zone climate-control airconditioning and navigation system are among an impressive standard equipment inventory. At 5.9 litres/100km (ADR combined cycle), the MINI boasts the most frugal fuel economy, though we averaged 7.8 on test. SUMMARY: CHIC CAPABILITY. FOR: Second-lowest price and insurance, equal second-best resale. AGAINST: Least power, smallest boot (211 litres), tightest on space, no spare (instead an inflation kit). RENAULT CLIO RS 200 CUP Renaultsport purists might lament the absence of a normally-aspirated powerplant and manual gearbox on this new generation Clio RS 200, but the combination of a punchy, 147kW/240Nm, 1.6-litre turbo engine and six-speed EDC (dual-clutch auto) does justice to the rest of this hot hatch's accomplished package. With launch control and a 'Race' mode to optimise performance, the Clio RS is quick out of the blocks. From 0-60km/h, only the WRX bested it. But lack of comparative torque in this company means you need to work the gearshift paddles enthusiastically to keep the momentum FOR EXAMPLES OF 'diversity' and 'inclusion', look no further than the Australia's Best Cars awards' Sports Car categories. Pitched together is an eclectic mix of roadsters, coupes, GTs, hot hatches and sports sedans, built to quicken the pulse and put a smile on their driver's 'dial'. And one of the best things is, a growing number carry a sticker price that won't twitch the hip pocket nerve. Check out our fast foursome. Each is a new generation of an existing model, bringing not only a substantial equipment upgrade, styling revamp, performance boost and all-round better drive, but drop in price. Compared to their outgoing equivalent, the Renault Clio RS 200 is $4700 cheaper, the MINI Cooper S $3750, Skoda Octavia RS $1500 and Subaru WRX $1000. To find out how they shape up as a new car buy, we crunched the numbers and took them on a long and challenging drive. MINI COOPER S If our performance times were the be-all and end-all, then the Cooper S could be interpreted as being a disappointment. It proved the slowest in four acceleration tests (0-60km/h, 0-80, 0-100 and standing 400m) and produced the longest braking distance (23.2m, 80km/h-stop). But dial up 'Sport' on the three-phase drive mode (the other choices are 'Mid' and 'Green') and let the MINI sniff out a climbing, snaking country road and you will be mightily impressed with the way it covers territory. The action of the six-speed manual gearbox is not just slick and precise, but the ratios bring out the best in the 2.0-litre, 141kW turbo-four engine. And with 300Nm available on overboost, the Cooper S really 'torques the walk' from 1250-4750rpm. At 1160kg -- the lightest of our quartet -- there's little weight PHOTO SHOOT LOCATION: TOPIARIES RESTAURANT, DRAPER. IMAGES, CLOCKWISE: MINI COOPER S, RENAULT CLIO RS 200 CUP. CAR COMPARISON | MOTORING ABBREVIATIONS: ABS (anti-lock brakes), AC (airconditioning), ACC (climate-control airconditioning), ACCD (dual-zone climate-control), AL (anti-theft alarm), ASS (auto stop-start), AW (alloy wheel and size in inches), BA (brake assist), CC (cruise control), DFSCA (dual front/front side/curtain airbags), DKA (driver's knee airbag), EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution), ESC (electronic stability control), HDC ( hill descent control), HFS (heated front seats), HSA (hill start assist), KE (keyless entry), LT (leather trim), MLP (Manufacturer's List Price), NAV (satellite navigation), PS (parking sensors), RC (reversing camera), RSW (rain-sensing wipers), SBPT (seat belt pre-tensioner), TC (traction control).
June July 2014