The Paris motor show will be remembered for the launch of the Jaguar F-type and McLaren P1. But history may well record it for the reveal of a number of hugely significant affordable performance cars and hot hatches.
Peugeot have been one of the biggest names in the pocket rocket markets, even if some of their recent product has been slightly below par. The launch of the 208 GTI and the RCZ R could change all of that.
And although the Clio Renaultsport is to lose the fizzy, naturally-aspirated powerplant, we've high hopes for the 1.6-litre turbo. Exciting times, certainly.
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Peugeot RCZ R
The RCZ R is powered by the same 1.6-litre turbo that is found in the regular RCZ, However, thanks to modifications from Peugeot Sport, the RCZ R produces 260bhp. This gives the RCZ R a huge specific output of 160bhp/litre. A limited-slip differential will be fitted to the RCZ R to boost traction.
Mini JCW GP
The second generation of the Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works GP was unveiled to at Paris. Like the first JCW GP, just two thousand will be made. Britain will receive 200, priced at £28,790.
The JCW GP has been subjected to a raft of changes to further improve its handling. New wheels, larger brakes, adjustable dampers and stickier Kumho tyres are all fitted to the GP. Power gains are modest; 215bhp and 207lb ft are gains of just 7bhp and 15lb ft over the Cooper S JCW.
Renault took the wraps of its Clio 4 range-topper at its home motor show. Notable by their absence are a manual gearbox and a naturally-aspirated engine, replaced by a dual-clutch transmission and a 1.6-litre turbo. Power (197bhp) is identical to the old car, but torque has been boosted (now 177lb ft) and is available across a wider range of revs.
The Clio 4 RS will be offered only as a five-door, though it is visually more aggressive than the standard Clio. Expect it to cost from around £18,500.
Peugeot 208 GTI
Expectations are high for the 208 GTI; it has to match its legendary forebears. Peugeot is hoping a combination of a 197bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and a kerb weight of just 1160kg will achieve this.
The 208 GTI also benefits from wider tracks over the standard 208, along with firmer springs, recalibrated dampers and modified anti-roll bars. Cosmetic alterations include flared wheelarches and unique badging.
The first 208 GTIs will arrive in Britain early next year, priced at around £20,000.
VW Golf GTI concept
Though unveiled as a concept, the Mk7 Golf GTI appeared almost production-ready. Two power outputs will be available when the car launches next summer, 217 or 227bhp.
Combined with a reduction in weight, the new GTI will be faster and more efficient than the old car. Up to 47mpg is being mooted for the lower-powered model, along with a 0-62mpg time of 6.6 seconds. The 227bhp variant will also benefit from bigger brakes and a new differential to provide an even sharper drive.