Fast Blasts

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IN A SNACK-SIZE BITE

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG -

RE­NAULT CLIO RS CUP Mini hot hatch makes for mighty fun

THE FACELIFTED Clio RS 200, in this case with the Cup chas­sis, is more fun than a cheap hatch has any right to be. Ev­ery­thing is es­sen­tially the same as the old ver­sion, though new che­quered-flag head­lights, or RS Vi­sion, are new and now aim where you steer. Purists be­ware, though, it’s still du­al­clutch-only. For­tu­nately, that’s eas­ily made up for by the way the car han­dles. An ex­cel­lent chas­sis proves very com­mu­nica­tive, happy to let you know ex­actly how hard you can turn in to a cor­ner. Even if you stuff up your en­try, seem­ingly end­less lift-off over­steer al­lows you to sharpen your line. Shifts can be­come quite sharp (and make a lit­tle ‘brap’) when Race Mode is ac­tive, but there is a down­side. Race au­to­mat­i­cally switches the Clio’s trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol off, and there’s no way around it. In­side, seats are heated, and vis­ually it holds up well, es­pe­cially at its price point. It’s also com­fort­able enough – just – around town thanks to 18-inch wheels, but its Sport brother is more softer, while the more pow­er­ful Tro­phy ver­sion is the track day pick. If you want a true daily propo­si­tion, there’s al­ways the Polo GTI, but you won’t have nearly as much fun when Sun­day rolls around. – Chris Thomp­son SPECS: 1.6T I4; 147kW @ 6050rpm; 260Nm @ 2000rpm; FWD; 1204kg; $32,490

JAGUAR XF S 30D Is Jag’s wagon as sharp as it looks?

IF YOU EX­PECT the XF Sport­brake to be a com­fort­able and su­per­stylish wagon, you’re going to be fine. But if you want some­thing that’ll get your heart pump­ing? Hmmm. Let’s start with the engine. A 3.0-litre tur­bocharged V6 in the snout sounds good un­til you re­mem­ber it’s a diesel, and that it only pumps out 221kW. And it red­lines just short of 4500rpm. Okay, it’s got 700Nm and will get along just fine, hit­ting 100km/h in a claimed 6.6sec, but you won’t be pushed back into your com­fort­able leather seat. It’s also worth play­ing with the pad­dles, as the Jag’s auto can be a lit­tle un­pre­dictable when left to its own de­vices. If you do want to take it out for a drive, you’ve got to be mind­ful of its weight. Its stan­dard tyres can also strug­gle in the wet and it rides on 20-inch al­loys which can make the other­wise com­fort­able ride quite brit­tle. It looks great – there’s a gen­eral con­sen­sus among staff here that it looks bet­ter than the XF sedan – How­ever, the F-Pace is cheaper by $20K, faster to 100km/h by 1.1s, only heav­ier by about 6kg, shares the same plat­form, and has a live­lier su­per­charged petrol V6. Should you choose the SUV in­stead? That’s up to you. – Chris Thomp­son SPECS: 3.0TD V6; 221kW @ 4000rpm; 700Nm @ 2000rpm; RWD; 1855kg;

HOLDEN CALAIS-V Can the Ger­mans out-Calais the Aussies?

HOW DOES THE new Calais-V com­pare with the out­go­ing VF? For a start, it makes an ex­tra 25kW/31Nm, though it does need to be revved a bit harder to hit its peak po­ten­tial. That ex­tra grunt with all-paw grip makes the Calais-V ca­pa­ble, al­beit not par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing. The gear­box is smooth, but a few lit­tle odd­i­ties spring up here and there. Nine close gears make for a lot of pad­dling if you’re in man­ual mode – sec­ond and third are al­most in­dis­tin­guish­able when ac­cel­er­at­ing. It be­came clear that the sus­pen­sion had in­deed been tuned to suit Aus­tralian con­di­tions, as the only no­tice­able detri­ment to its ride along an rough road was the fact it rides on 20-inch wheels. The AWD also made get­ting along at high speeds easy, helped by sticky Con­ti­nen­tal Sport Con­tact 6s. Harsh bumps don’t throw the Calais off at all. It’s still got hard plas­tics and in­ex­pen­sive ma­te­ri­als in­side which dis­ap­point, but the seats are com­fort­able and road noise can be drowned out by the su­perb Bose sound sys­tem. But while the Calais is more sorted (and cheaper) than a Stinger GT, the Kia is where fun-seek­ers should head for fast fam­ily hauler. Be­cause fast the Calais is not. – Chris Thomp­son SPECS: 3.6 V6; 235kW @ 6800rpm; 381Nm @ 5200rpm; AWD; 1726kg; $51,990

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