Blue steel

Amedee Gordini was a legendary Formula 1 racer and car manufacturer who worked with Renault for a great deal of his life. In the 1960s a Renault-Gordini vehicle completed the 24 Hours Le Mans race. Then Gordini retired, but not before selling his firm to Renault. In 2009, the French car maker announced the revival of Gordini s name for an exclusive line of hot hatches.

The result is a series of premier hatchbacks: the Renault Twingo and the Clio, two of the first to be given the Gordini testosterone shot to the arm. The Clio Gordini Renault Sport is a lithe, nippy and unbelievably aggressive go-kart. Though slightly larger and faster than the Twingo, it retains much of the smallness and sprightliness.

The Clio Gordini has a 2.0L WT engine that can give up to 148kW of power at 7 100rpm and the gearbox comes with fashionable six-speed forwards. The suspension is a double-axis strut system in the front and a torsion beam system with programmed deflection-coil springs at the back. You ll notice the difference once you start tossing it about on steep curves.

Renault

It sticks to the road like a barnacle to a blue whale. But this is a hot hatch! Traction control can be switched off, and there is no emergency brake assist, so you re free to shred the 17-inch tyres.

This hatchback is not what you d call pretty. Instead of dainty lines and cutesy features, it boasts loud racing stripes that run across the car (and inside, too), colour-coded bumpers with a front F1 splitter and rear back diffuser, aluminium door handles, extra tinted windows and an unmistakable Malta Blue metallic paint.

The interior of the vehicle makes no apology about it being a hot hatch —it has a Gordini-badged gear knob and surround, carpet mats, and blue trim on the front-door inserts and leather seats, as well as Gordini leather and racing trim on the steering wheel. You obviously get cruise control, cornering headlamps, automatic climate control, an on-board computer, fingertip audio controls, electric power steering and an MP3/CD player as well.

Renault

If you can t be bothered to cough up the extra R20 000 to get the posher Gordini, the standard Clio Sport will do. Or just about. But then it lacks one thing that the Gordini has in buckets —a sense of humour.