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Renault Clio RS Cup vs. Seat Ibiza Cupra: Are you really Cup-mates?

Frank Herzog
Renault Clio RS Cup vs. Seat Ibiza Cupra
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K leine toys for the bigger boys and girls tend to be a bit more expensive these days. The basic version of the current Golf GTI costs 26,650 euros (that was 52,000 marks). Extreme athletes of the caliber of a KTM X-Bow even scratch the 100,000 euro barrier in full test car vestments. Against this background and in view of the fact that the cars have now outgrown their eponymous classes almost everywhere (the new 'compact' Mazda3 MPS measures over 4.50 meters), the appearance of a truly compact four-meter athlete like a Renault Clio RS Cup or a Seat Ibiza Cupra is quite refreshing.

The better equipped Seat Ibiza Cupra R weighs less

Ultimately, the deliberate renunciation of external size and voluminous engines offers undreamt-of opportunities and in this special case ensures a big surprise on the scales. The athlete in the field is not the Renault Cup model that started without any comfort equipment, but the extensively equipped Seat. With 1,231 to 1,240 kilos, the Cupra just wins this rating. That gives hope for a close head-to-head race. Although the Spaniard has only 180 horsepower to oppose the 201 hp Frenchman, he can throw in two-stage charging.

The dainty 1.4-liter direct injection unit has a constantly active exhaust gas turbocharger and, if required intervening compressor to the side. The system is known from the VW Golf GT, but thanks to a maximum boost pressure that has been increased from 1.0 to 1.15, it delivers 10 hp more to the front wheels. In fact, the downsizing concept pursued at Seat gives the Ibiza Cupra a clear advantage in terms of torque. While the Cup-Clio first has to rev up to mobilize its maximum possible 215 Newton meters at 5,400 rpm, the powerful Ibiza can rely on a constant 250 Newton meters of torque between 2,000 and 4,500 tours. Ergo, the Spaniard convinces in everyday life with a highly balanced performance characteristic and in Hockenheim with a brilliant 0-100 sprint: from a standing start, the test car marches to country road speed within seven seconds.

The gearshift of the Renault Clio makes more pleasure than frustration

The two-liter vacuum cleaner of the Clio Sport, which is dependent on high speeds, takes the sprint ratingIt picks up more cautiously around the bottom (zero to 100 km /h in 7.3 seconds), but then pulls calmly past its competitor. By the time it reaches the 180 km /h mark, the Clio RS Cup has its black and green nose four tenths of a second ahead. The fear that the Renault high-speed concept would require frequent use of the gearshift lever in everyday life does not come true, however. In the Clio Cup, things progress quickly even without intensive manual work.

It seems questionable whether sporty car drivers want to miss them in the long run. After all, the crisp and precise acting six-speed transmission harbors more pleasure than frustration. In addition, it can be assumed that anyone who consciously orders the Clio in the minimalist Cup version (19,900 euros) instead of the more comfortably configured Clio Sport (22,500 euros) is quite open to such activities. The sporty hardcore version only has electric windows on board. Electrically adjustable exterior mirrors or seats, radio and air conditioning were dispensed with in favor of weight and straightness.

The Seat Ibiza was put on the electric leash

The Spaniards are pursuing a completely different path with their sports model. Which - let's be heretical for a moment - was probably not to be expected differently in view of the prevailing weather situation in the VW group. If the sixth generation Golf GTI is consistently put on the electronic leash, why should an Ibiza Cupra fare any differently? The intervention threshold of the ESP can be raised, but the driving stability program itself cannot be switched off. A hydraulic assistant named HBA helps on the brakes without being asked.

The torque distribution between the wheels of an axle is provided by the electronic differential lock XDS and - what is most saddened - those who value the most powerful engine in the Seat will receive the now with a dry double clutch instead of an oil bath without being asked 7-speed DSG in addition. This switching unit, which is quite comfortable in everyday life because it has two automatic programs, finally incapacitates ambitious drivers on the racetrack.

The 7-speed DSG of the Seat Ibza Cupra R incapacitates the driver

Contrary to what the press release would have you believe, in the so-called sequential mode, the driver by no means decides for himself when to use the gearshift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. A long time before the rev limiter is reached, the system relieves him of the decision-making process by shifting up without asking. Since there is no corresponding automatic downshift when approaching the curve - as offered, for example, by the Sport Plus mode of the AMG seven-speed automatic - the driver is inevitably confused: he is not allowed to upshift himself, but he has to downshift himself. Otherwisethe kick-down, which is also active in 'manual' mode, jumps into the breach.

Self-determined driving looks different. For example at the Clio RS Cup. Take a chassis that has been made suitable for sports by means of a wider track front and rear, a front wheel suspension with a decoupled steering axle and a 30 millimeter thicker stabilizer on the torsion beam rear axle, fine-tune it, give the compact sports car hydraulic shock absorbers with slightly softer damping rates to ensure driving comfort does not suffer in everyday life - the all-round convincing sports package is ready. In addition, a knowledgeable brake system with 312 millimeter ventilated discs and four-piston Brembo calipers at the front and 300 millimeter discs and TRW single-piston calipers at the rear - then nothing stands in the way of the lusty rush off the road.

The Renault Clio Sport Cup is top of the class in Hockenheim

This is also happening quickly: With 1.19.4 seconds on the small course, the Clio Sport Cup operates in Hockenheim as a class leader. It is not surprising that the visually sharp, but basically softly rinsed Ibiza Cupra doesn't make any stitches here with 1.21.8 minutes. Strongly safety-oriented, non-deactivatable control systems, more or less automatically operating switching units and fading-sensitive braking systems are opposed to best times.


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