VIDEO: MINI Cooper JCW vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Renault Clio 220 Trophy

MINI, Videos | March 14th, 2016 by 8
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One of my favorite sayings about driving is “it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow”. The idea …

One of my favorite sayings about driving is “it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow”. The idea behind this is that it doesn’t matter if you have a car with a million horsepower if you’re driving it on public roads, because even at highway speeds those monster supercars are only using a fraction of their potential. In fact, it can almost be boring to drive something like a Ferrari on public roads sometimes, because it’s too easy for the car. But driving something like a hot hatch, with around 200 horsepower, on public roads can be more fun because you can put your foot to the floor, upshift at redline and use all of the power without doing speeds that require jail time.

Hot hatches epitomize that notion and Carfection decided to get three of the best hot hatches on the market together to see which is best. In this latest video, the good fellas at Cerfection brought the Ford Fiesta ST, Renault Clio 220 Trophy and the MINI Cooper John Cooper Works together in a battle for hot hatch superiority.

First is the Ford Fiesta ST which, since its debut a few years back, has been one of the most popular hot hatches on the market. It’s popular thanks to its excellent blend of handling, performance and fun. While it’s not the fastest car in the world, only making around 197 hp from its 1.6 liter turbo four-pot, it’s not meant to be very fast. Instead, it’s meant to be very fun and, on that front, it succeeds. The Fiesta ST is hilarious fun to drive, with its short wheelbase, planted chassis and buzzy engine mated to a proper six-speed manual gearbox combine to make it hard to beat in the smiles department.

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Next up is the Renault Clio 220 Trophy. Its 217 hp comes from a 1.6 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The Clio 220 is much faster than the Fiesta and grippier, too. The Clio can hang in in corners really well and is incredibly capable for a front-wheel drive hatchback. But it lacks the fun and happiness that embodies the Fiesta ST. Plus, its dual-clutch gearbox is annoying to use and disengaging, with odd shift paddles that don’t really feel like they’re working. So the Clio 200 Trophy is a very fast hot hatch, but it isn’t a very fun one.

Lastly is the MINI Cooper JCW. We’re big fans of the MINI Cooper JCW, as it’s fast, fun, comfortable and practical, but is it as fun as the Fiesta ST? Well, it’s damn close. The JCW packs 228 hp from its 2.0 liter turbocharged engine and is by far the fastest of the bunch. While the JCW is offered with either a six-speed manual (the preferred choice), a six-speed automatic is available and is what was equipped in this video, as it’s faster that way. The automatic in the MINI is far superior to that of the Renault and is actually very nice to use. The MINI is also very fun to drive, being very planted and secure with great steering and sharp turn-in. But the JCW ends up feeling a bit too serious. Its cabin is gorgeously appointed for its class and it actually has a very good ride for such a hot hatch, so it ends up feeling a bit too mature for the Carfection team. Plus, while the automatic is quite good, it should have a manual gearbox to really make it fun.

So while the MINI Cooper JCW is a very good car, it seems as it’s only second best in this review, with the Ford Fiesta ST still being the most fun hot hatch to drive and the Renault coming in last.

8 responses to “VIDEO: MINI Cooper JCW vs Ford Fiesta ST vs Renault Clio 220 Trophy”

  1. 2sfhim says:

    It would have been much more interesting to compare them with the Peugeot 208 GTi, which is also one of the best of its class, and uses the BMW PSA 1.6L engine. So BMW engine vs. BMW-PSA engine.

  2. TheBingoBalls says:

    The problem with MINI’s in general is that while they’re capable for what they are, small, fun, go-kart-like cars but, they’re way too expensive for what they offer. Base price of the Fiesta ST and JCW is $10k apart and the JCW still isn’t capable of winning comparisons. Throw in the Focus ST which is $35k and the JCW doesn’t stand a chance.

    Again, MINI’s aren’t bad cars but they’re terrible value to the average consumer vs. the competition. I have a MINI and while they’re extremely fun, the deciding factor why I purchased one was because I’ve always had BMW’s in the family so I have the tools, software and familiarity with the cars. If my family didn’t own BMW’s, I would have likely gone to VW or Ford as the ideal hatch.

    • Alexander Major says:

      Have you sat inside the latest MINI? The interior build quality, technology, BMW engineering, character, and driving dynamics provide a combination that no Ford product can match.

      • TheBingoBalls says:

        Not sure about you but while the F56 is an improvement over the R56, it’s nothing to write home about considering the price you’re liking to pay for one at the dealer.

        At the end of the day, the Fiesta ST, Focus ST and RS are better buys than any MINI variant not because MINI’s are terrible cars but because the pricing is terrible. The Focus and Golf will always be ahead in this segment because BMW decided to price MINI’s close to BMW branded cars.

        • darex says:

          Well, they have BMW engines, BMW tech/equipment (the packages are nearly identical), BMW electrical systems and coding, BMW seats, etc… Even the FWD/x-drive thing is blurred, with the advent of the UKL2 platform. I think they’re priced appropriately. For the same money, you can’t find a similarly equipped car in the North American market, let alone one that has such extreme customization (and unrestricted manuals across the board!).

          • TheBingoBalls says:

            You’re correct, it has all those things but it doesn’t necessarily make the total package better than the competition. I can’t even remember a recent comparison where any MINI was ranked near the top.

            BMW wants to price the MINI as a BMW but it’s not as good as say a 1er or 3er in their respective segments. The MINI for the longest time has been living in the shadow of Golf and I don’t see that changing with its current pricing structure.

            BMW is positioning MINI to be this premium brand above the rest of the segment but it doesn’t work because anyone buying these cars isn’t looking to spend a lot of money. You and I might pay the premium but 90% of people don’t care about customizing – all they care about is small, fuel efficient, reasonably price car.

      • darex says:

        More than that, the overall cheapness and terrible ergonomics in the Fiesta, if nothing else, show where that extra $10,000 went into. There’s no comparison between the two. I know where I’d rather spend my next few years sitting!

  3. bobboblues says:

    push them to their limits on B roads or just bring them to any track and the Clio says easily bye-bye to both its rivals. To call the slowest, cheapest and most ugly car the king of small hot hatches is just a joke…

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