RenaultSport Clio 197 Cup

The rest of this page may have convinced you I have a less than healthy obsession with expensive, powerful cars and you’d not be far wrong. But I also love small, light, simple and cheap cars so long as they’re properly engineered, like this RenaultSport Clio 197 Cup which comes in at £14,995. It would be interesting to see just how big a gap a car like an Aston DBS could put between itself and the Clio on a twisting country road; I’d bet it would be next to nothing. Using little more clever than a rev-hungry twin cam 2-litre motor producing the 197bhp alluded to and simple strut and torsion beam suspension, Renault has produced the most fun hatchback of them all. Its handling recalls that of the 5 GT Turbo in which I used to careen around 20 years ago, yet recently lengthened gearing means it’s sufficiently civilised to make light work of long distances.

What a contrast to the allegedly high-performance Peugeots I’ve driven of late which remain poor custodians of the marque’s once illustrious heritage in this area. Still, hope has emerged in the shape of the 308RCZ concept. It will go on sale next year as the 308 coupé and an hour’s gentle running on roads outside Paris suggested it might be rather good.