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2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI v Renault Clio RS Sport Comparison

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI v Renault Clio RS Sport Comparison


The Volkswagen Polo is simply two years youthful than the Golf, but it took 19 years for Volkswagen to lastly decide that its metropolis automotive can be a superb match for the sporty GTI badge.

In between the primary Golf GTI of 1976 and the unique Polo GTI of 1995, the German model believed its Passat household sedan and wedge-shaped Scirocco coupe have been worthier recipients of the well-known trio of capital letters (although there was a supercharged Polo G40 in 1991).

The ‘sixth generation’ Polo GTI launched this yr, then, is technically a fourth-generation mannequin – and solely the third to succeed in Australia since 2005. So, it’s a relative beginner, and positively missing the heritage of its greater brother.

It’s slowly closing the dimensions hole, although. With the newest Polo breaching 4 metres in size, it’s virtually as huge as a 2003 Mark Four Golf.

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI v Renault Clio RS Sport

The Renault Sport Clio’s historical past in Australia isn’t for much longer than the Polo GTI’s 13 years – not helped by the French model’s native struggles earlier than the flip of the century.

However after we missed out on the primary scorching Clio – the 1993 Clio Williams – the Clio RS172 (badged simply Renault Sport Clio right here) shaped a part of Renault’s (umpteenth) Australian relaunch in 2001.

It proved to be an enormous hit with fanatics – and comparatively extra profitable than the common Clio – and was adopted by the upgraded RS182 and next-generation RS197/RS200 fashions earlier than the newest Clio RS lobbed in 2014.

In 2017, the sporty Clio was given a midlife replace to offer it some semblance of freshness towards newer rivals. And with the subsequent Ford Fiesta ST not due till early 2019, the French hottie is the right litmus check for a Polo GTI that hitherto hasn’t managed to find the all-round magic of its iconic sibling.

Pricing and gear

The worth of the Volkswagen Polo GTI has matured together with its dimensions. It has beforehand been a sub-$30,000 proposition even with an auto, although the brand new mannequin begins from $30,990.

Commonplace gear once more features a dual-setting suspension (launched as commonplace in 2016 on the earlier GTI), plus inclusions akin to 17-inch alloy wheels, tartan material seats, dual-zone local weather management, keyless entry/begin, rain-sensing wipers, leather-based steering wheel with paddleshift levers, LED inside lighting, tyre strain monitoring, Eight.Zero-inch infotainment touchscreen, smartphone mirroring, LED tail-lights and autonomous emergency braking.

Pricing is equivalent for the repetitiously named Renault Clio RS Sport (in full that’s Renault Clio Renault Sport Sport!).

There’s no adjustable damping, no Clio mannequin is but out there with AEB, the local weather set-up is single zone solely, and the infotainment system is predicated round a smaller (7.Zero-inch) show and missing Apple CarPlay (whereas Android Auto is a part of an choice pack).

It in any other case matches the GTI’s options whereas including a few of its personal welcome unique inclusions – akin to LED headlights, entrance/rear sensors, heated aspect mirrors, and manufacturing unit navigation.

For Polo GTI consumers preferring built-in steerage to utilizing Apple or Google Maps by way of smartphone interfacing, it’s a $1900 spend for the Sound & Imaginative and prescient package deal that additionally switches the analogue instrument panel to a flowery digital show, expands the touchscreen show to 9.2 inches, and swaps the elementary audio for a 300-watt Beats system.

Our GTI check automotive featured each choice package deal obtainable. The $1400 Driver Help teams adaptive cruise management, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic warning, and auto-steering parking help.

A $3900 Luxurious package deal brings microfleece upholstery, entrance seats with heating perform, LED headlights and daytime operating lights, panoramic sunroof, darkened rear-side and rear home windows, and 18-inch ‘Brescia’ alloy wheels.

Absolutely brimmed, our check GTI prices $38,490 earlier than on-road prices – or cash that would get you right into a Golf GTI Unique when you don’t thoughts a three-door physique fashion. No marvel the Unique disappears with the considerably pricier MY19 Golf GTI due quickly (although sellers are nonetheless more likely to have inventory for a while).

Our RS Sport check automotive’s value was additionally fattened up, from $30,990 to $34,740 earlier than additional fees.

A $1500 Leisure Pack introduces Bose audio, telemetry show (RS Monitor), and exchanges the default media system for an R-Hyperlink multimedia set-up. And one other $1500 pack – Luxurious – brings leather-Alcantara seats with heating perform for the fronts, and a height-adjustable entrance passenger seat.

For consumers trying to step up the sportiness, the $32,490 RS Cup is provided with greater wheels and a ‘Cup’ chassis with even stiffer springs and dampers.


A guide gearbox appears a pure transmission to offer at this extra price-sensitive finish of the hot-hatch spectrum. Disappointingly, neither the GTI nor RS gives one; it’s a dual-clutch auto or nothing.

Volkswagen’s six-speed DSG unit is paired to the most important engine but for the Polo GTI. After two 1.Eight-litre turbos sandwiching a 1.Four-litre ‘Twincharger’ throughout earlier iterations, the infant Gran Turismo Injection makes use of the ever present EA888 2.Zero-litre four-cylinder turbo associated to the motors discovered within the efficiency Golfs (GTI and R).

It’s a lower-spec model for the smaller VW, in fact, although whereas 147kW appears to have turn into the default energy output for the phase, the GTI’s 320Nm is a benchmark torque determine.

Nevertheless, class-leading acceleration, at the very least when it comes to the standing-start dash, is about to belong to the brand new Fiesta ST.

A 75kg-heavier kerb weight means the 1355kg Polo GTI doesn’t higher its predecessor’s 6.7-second mark, leaving it two-tenths shy of the Ford’s quoted time – although on par with the RS Sport.

In-gear efficiency is a larger spotlight. With that most torque delivered between 1500 and 4350rpm, the Polo’s bulbous mid-range offers particularly robust and elastic response in third gear, whereas nonetheless pulling impressively in larger gears.

That’s useful because the DSG, regardless of being put in in a sportier VW, is calibrated to shift pretty early into greater gears for the sake of gasoline financial system.

But, the gearbox can also be sensible sufficient to make a delicate downshift when a flat street begins to show into an incline, or if the driving force provides the accelerator pedal a small prod. It ensures good throttle response within the GTI’s Regular mode for normal driving, whereas a Sport mode sharpens it as a part of a extra aggressive drivetrain setting.

Sport introduces extra burps and crackles from the exhaust, although they’re nonetheless too well mannered. Mixed with an influence supply that’s impressively linear however provides little drama, the GTI’s 2.Zero-litre might be accused of being a bit too refined for its personal good.

It’s definitely over-protected by an auto that upshifts forward of the engine’s redline, even if in case you have the Sport mode chosen and are utilizing the paddles.

The Clio RS was as soon as powered by a splendidly charismatic, usually aspirated 2.Zero-litre earlier than switching to a turbocharged 1.6-litre in 2014. With the GTI now in play, the entry-level RS would ideally have the higher-tune, 162kW/280Nm unit discovered within the limited-edition RS18 variant (and beforehand Trophy).

The Sport’s 147kW has energy parity right here, however its 260Nm appears undernourished as compared. But, whereas there’s undoubtedly a stronger mid-range urge to be found within the GTI that may take some corners one gear greater, the Clio RS feels lots fast – benefitting from a considerably decrease mass: 1205kg.

With the RS Drive button engaged, the French hatch’s comparatively energetic efficiency is accompanied by pleasurable gurgling and whooshes, even when the noises owe extra to sound engineers – enhanced by way of the audio audio system – somewhat than automotive engineers engaged on consumption and exhaust plumbing.

And extra so than within the VW, you’re virtually willed by the engine’s enthusiasm to focus on the redline.

It’s a pity the paddle-shift levers aren’t as completely positioned as they’re within the Volkswagen. Hooked up to the steering column quite than wheel, and positioned too excessive, RS drivers are pressured to carry their fingers inconveniently upwards to flick a paddle.

It prompted this driver to as an alternative use the tip-shift perform of the auto gear lever. Or you possibly can simply depart the auto to do the shifting because it’s massively efficient in RS Drive mode – making certain there’s vigorous throttle response and aggressive downshifts beneath heavy braking. We simply advise its use for sportier driving. Round city, the accelerator pedal is in any other case too toey and the auto a bit too busy.

And even in its common setting, the Renault’s EDC dual-clutch might be clunkier than the Polo’s DSG model that’s principally freed from the low-speed irks which have plagued the gearbox’s historical past.

Each check automobiles made sounds that may have had us returning them to the vendor for fixing. The GTI’s sprint rattled loudly when the engine was being revved out; the RS’s instrument panel buzzed intermittently. Expertise of earlier RS fashions and two GTIs pushed on the launch occasion level to those being remoted points.

Journey and dealing with

The brand new Polo GTI sits on the compact (AO) model of the MQB platform sitting beneath a number of VW Group fashions, together with the Golf GTI. Meaning a torsion-beam rear suspension typical of its class (and just like the Clio RS) as an alternative of a multi-link association.

The GTI sits 15mm decrease than common Polos, whereas its springs, dampers and anti-roll bars have all been beefed up for sportier driving. So, it’s no shock to find the GTI rolls together with a noticeable firmness in contrast with an ordinary Polo.

The damper tuning, although, ensures the overall consolation degree is greater than acceptable round city. Even switching to the stiffer Sport doesn’t flip the GTI into an excessively agitated nuisance, offered the surfacing isn’t too horrible.

The RS, with underpinnings which are equally intensified over an ordinary Clio, delivers a busier experience whether or not the street is city or nation environs, but there are additionally absorptive qualities that permit for day by day driving that isn’t overly taxing on occupants.

Scorching hatches, in fact, are supposed to compensate for any relative discomfort by offering some thrills on the open street. And on this respect, the Clio RS deviates little from the French-hot-hatch type ebook.

It dives into bends with unbridled enthusiasm and responsive turn-in, and the alert chassis groups properly with meatily weighted steering.

RS Drive mode instructs the steadiness and traction-control electronics to delay their interventions, and grip from the 205/45R17 Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber is bountiful mid-corner – after which there’s spectacular traction to be found in case you bury the accelerator pedal for a speedy exit.

The Renault, just like the Volkswagen, employs an digital system to reinforce traction with delicate braking of the within entrance wheel.

Whether or not the RS’s system is simpler, or the GTI’s greater torque is definitely counterproductive right here, the Volkswagen loses some momentum accelerating onerous out of bends – a short lived spike in revs is an audible pointer to the inside-front’s extreme rotations.

The Polo’s stronger engine helps recuperate any time deficit between corners, although the Polo GTI is finally not as rewarding because the RS on drivers’ roads.

Weighing a hefty 151kg greater than its French rival, the German five-door shouldn’t be as twinkle-toed in fast directional modifications – circumstances the place the GTI’s non-compulsory entrance seats show to be much less efficient at holding torsos in place in comparison with the RS’s closely bolstered (extra-cost) huggers.

The GTI’s brakes are additionally a contact picket on preliminary software, after which much less constant all through the pedal journey underneath extraordinarily onerous slowing.

Though the GTI’s chassis shouldn’t be as tuned in with its driver because the RS’s, the Polo is just not devoid of enjoyment. The brakes are lots highly effective, and the impartial on-limit dealing with permits the GTI’s potent mid-range tempo to be exploited with nice confidence. Its steering, as with the RS’s, can also be impressively freed from torque steer.


The world of automotive interiors is altering quickly, even within the metropolis automotive phase, particularly with regard to infotainment and connectivity.

So, it’s inevitable the Clio’s R-Hyperlink system, which appeared fashionable when first launched in 2013 on the Clio, appears considerably dated in measurement and presentation – particularly within the firm of the Polo’s suave-looking glass touchscreen.

R-Hyperlink isn’t normal on the Clio RS, although the bottom system nonetheless has navigation. The GTI wants the optionally available 9.2-inch Uncover Media system for built-in steerage, although smartphone integration (App Join) is normal.

The upper-spec infotainment system is a tempting choice field to tick on the GTI, because the package deal additionally brings the Beats audio (which sounds as fabulous because the Clio’s Bose system) and VW’s cool, high-tech Lively Information Show digital instrument cluster.

Nevertheless, these three key options are all commonplace on the cheaper Polo Beats.

Thus outfitted, no metropolis automotive can match the Polo’s dashboard sophistication, whereas the Renault can’t match the VW’s elective driver aids.

Being aware these are scorching hatches, the Clio RS seems the sportiest inside. The RS emblem adorns the steering wheel and headrests, there are pink seatbelts, pink fake metallic on the gear lever, purple stitching galore, and people chunky (non-compulsory) sports activities seats.

A daring expanse of pink plastic is plastered throughout the Polo GTI’s sprint, with the colorful trim additionally utilized to the centre stack/console encompass and doorways.

It will not be to everybody’s style and there are not any options, although at the very least – as with the Polo Beats that will get an orange model – it ensures your GTI inside gained’t be confused with the somewhat austere cabin of the Polo 85TSI.

A GTI cabin by some means feels incomplete with out the signature tartan material seats and the elective microfleece upholstery seems to be much less fascinating, if unquestionably snug.

The newer Polo doesn’t declare the anticipated benefit in supplies high quality. The GTI options as many arduous plastics as a base mannequin, whereas the Clio’s inside – which has aged higher than its infotainment system – benefitted from an improve to supplies in 2017. Its door trim, for instance, seems to be and feels costlier than the Polo’s.

Storage choices are extra restricted within the Clio, although, and passengers will favor the Polo’s rear seat: it has extra head room and knee area, even when the Renault is way from cramped.

It’s the Volkswagen once more for greatest boot area.


Manufacturing unit warranties are similar – and equally disappointing. Volkswagen is sticking stubbornly to 3 years regardless of nearly all of producers providing 5 years now. Renault had been providing 5 years on its fashions, however in mid 2018 declared its RS fashions would revert to 3 years. Is the French model suggesting its sportier fashions are much less dependable?

Renault Australia opts for 3 years once more for capped-price servicing – making it one of many shortest packages in Australia. No less than servicing prices are affordable at $369 a pop, and the corporate permits longer mileage between supplier visits: 20,000km versus Volkswagen’s 15,000km.

Evaluating three-year servicing prices, the Clio RS will set you again at the very least $1107 (there are some periodical additional costs for filters and spark plugs) in contrast with a $1447 most for the Polo GTI. There’s a scary $1374 fourth service for the Polo GTI, thoughts you.

Volkswagen gives free roadside help for the guarantee interval. Renault’s can also be complimentary as much as 4 years – offered house owners keep on with the annual service program with an authorised supplier.


Let’s get the negatives out of the best way first.

The ‘affordable performance car’ label is more durable to stay to the Volkswagen Polo GTI when you begin loading up tempting choices, whereas ideally consumers might go for the 18-inch wheels with out dropping the tartan seats.

And whereas the Polo GTI is enjoyable to a sure extent, there’s room for a better degree of driver engagement – and positively a simpler entrance diff and the supply of a guide gearbox for hardcore steerers. Perhaps we’ll see a Efficiency variant, as with the Golf, down the monitor…

For the Clio RS, we’d wish to see Renault slotting the higher-tune 1.6-litre turbo from the RS LE into the Sport, whereas we nonetheless lament the absence of a stick-shift choice (particularly because the paddles are ergonomically flawed).

The Sport may be commonplace with the R-Hyperlink infotainment system and RS Monitor telemetry.

But, whereas each fashions depart the door ajar for the Fiesta ST to say potential class management in 2019, the wait could also be meaningless for practicality-focused consumers if Ford doesn’t affirm the five-door variant. And the Renault and Volkswagen are robust choices.

The newest Polo GTI comes the closest but to miniaturising the Golf GTI expertise with a compelling, all-round package deal. It delivers versatile efficiency, a experience that’s agency however sufficiently snug for on a regular basis motoring, and a larger array of up to date know-how.

Our fond reminiscences of the endearingly sensible last-generation Clio RS nonetheless haven’t pale, although the fourth-generation Clio’s chassis is not any betrayal of Renault Sport’s lineage. Agile and adjustable, it’s engineered to entertain in tandem with its feistier drivetrain – and imbued with enough consolation for the day by day drive with out the necessity for multiple suspension setting.

Primarily, Polo GTI versus Clio RS boils right down to what you need from a scorching hatch. Would you like the Volkswagen with its additional area, refinement, know-how and muscle, or do you favor the Renault and its sportier dealing with and drivetrain?

Even we’re cut up.

*** PHOTOS :



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