The 220 Trophy was the winner by the proverbial mile in its knock-out group in Autocar’s ‘How Much Fun for £30K’ feature. Its rivals included the Mini John Cooper Works, Peugeot 208 GTi and Vauxhall Corsa VXR.
The magazine’s Matt Saunders wrote: “The 220’s fluent, biddable handling and beautifully weighted, gently communicative steering are both outstanding. On track, it is easily the most natural, controllable and engaging prospect here.
“It shuns the contrived hyper-responsiveness of its rivals and instead bleeds in towards every apex with just enough body roll to load up its outside rear wheel, and to neutralise its cornering attitude on a trailing throttle, giving its driver options. The car never wants for stability. It’s just balanced and progressive enough to respond with some playful slip angle when you’ve had enough of slow in, fast out.”
Elsewhere he also noted the 220 Trophy “is the only car here with five doors and, by dint of that, the most practical” as well as “its chassis and steering are very special indeed”.
Cue the grand finale against the two other group winners, the new Civic Type R and MX-5 from Honda and Mazda. Scribe Matt Prior took over the wheel and, although the MX-5 ran out the winner, he still declared of the 220 Trophy: “Barrel into a bend at Bedford Autodrome and the Renault will slip at its front first, but judge the cornering speed well, trail the brakes in as you begin to turn, to settle the nose and lighten the loads on the rear, and the Trophy shows the kind of composure and throttle adjustability for which Renaultsport is righty renowned.”