Driven - September 2017

Polo TSI R-Line vs Clio GT-Line, what to buy?

Polo TSI R-Line vs Clio GT-Line


Volkswagen Polo TSI R-Line: R 292 400

Renault Clio GT Line: R 264 900

Firstly, let’s just start off by saying that it seems unfair to pit the Renault up against one of SA’s best selling cars. These two cars offer nearly identical features and for those looking for something different, the Clio may seem like a good alternative.

VW Polo R Line in South Africa

The specs:

As sporty as these models look, both offer petite engines in the form of a 1.2 litre, 4-cylinder engine for the Renault and a 1.0 litre, 3-cylinder engine for the Polo. An R-Line with 3 Cylinders? You’re joking, right? No. We’re not. The same goes for the Renault. The words GT give the impression of power and “hot-hatch-ness”. This is not the case with both of these vehicles but, that doesn’t mean that these cars aren’t sporty. Take the Clio GT Line for instance, the car’s chassis is sublime. So much so, you end up hunting for twisty roads since you don’t have too much power on tap – 88 kW/205 N.m. The Clio’s secret is its simplicity, only a manual transmission is offered and what a good one it is. The Polo TSI R-Line is the opposite, a sophisticated setup with a dual clutch transmission that works very well. With power figures of 81 kW/200 N.m, it’s engine punches well above what it’s capacity and outputs might suggest. Truth be told however, for spirited drivers, the Clio wins when it comes to fun factor.


This is where things start to favour the Polo. Volkswagen are serious about this whole premium thing and the TSI R-Line doesn’t disappoint. A touch screen infotainment system equipped with Apple CarPlay makes for an enjoyable infotainment experience. The entire interior layout of the Polo surpasses that of the Renault, with nicer materials being used and seats suited more for comfort. There is nothing really negative about the Renault, it too offers a quality cabin, minus the chicness offered in the Polo. You’re also offered a touchscreen system in the Renault, but no CarPlay…the horror! Again, the Renault’s fun side comes to surface in the interior, with bucket seats so deep, you feel like you’re in an adult baby seat (if there’s such a thing). As good as those seats are for apex chasing, normal town driving can get tiring.

The looks:

Forget what us car journos tell you about steering feel. Looks count too. A lot. In that department, the Clio GT-Line and Polo TSI R-Line do very well. Both cars look like baby variants of their older, more powerful siblings. One thing Volkswagen has done well with, is by fitting the Polo TSI R-Line with 17-inch shiny wheels. This fills the car out nicely, especially since the Polo is fitted with a body kit. The Clio on the other hand has always been a pretty car. The GT Line further elevates that, with slightly more aggressive body styling. Standing toe to toe, it’s hard to pick which looks nicer, so we’ll leave that to you.

And, who’s the winner?

In a perfect world, we would like to award a car with the crown based on just how it drives or its features. In these comparisons, we like to put ourselves in the shoes of the buyer. Where should your hard earned money go? Logically, to the car that will cost you less in the long run. There’s a huge advantage in buying a car that is loved in SA, you can easily get rid of it without being offered nothing when you need to trade it in. This will be the case with the Polo, it’s resale value will surpass that of the Clio. If, however you’re a “YOLO” kind of person and you just want to have fun, the Renault offers more thrills. There’s something about being in a not to fast car that allows YOU to drive and exploit all the power it has. That is something the Renault gives you. So, which is the better car? For long term ownership, the Polo remains the king.

Also published on Medium.