Clio and GTI impress at Millbrook

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Autoblog has descended on Millbrook test circuit to take part in the SMMT day, an annual event that brings together all the major manufacturers and the motoring press.

We're here to try some of the industry's latest models on Millbrook's famous alpine hill run, and round the banked high-speed bowl.


First up was the Clio Cup 200. Why? Well not all of the Autoblog team had visited Millbrook before and what better car to do it in than Renault's rocket ship? The hill run is the natural home of the hot hatch and the Clio is so good that it breeds confidence even before you've got used to the crests, hills and cambers of the 1.5 mile run.

It seemed rude to return the car to Renault without trying out its big brother, the Megane 250 Cup. As much as you want it to be, the larger hatch is not simply a swollen version of the Clio – it's been softened slightly for a more mature edge - but the chassis is still impressively focused and the engine delivers even more punch than it does in its harder sibling.

After two older faces we opted for one of the youngest – the eagerly anticipated Volkswagen Polo GTI. VW's press office had turned up with two of only five in existence. Both were left-hookers, and both were very good looking. The newest hot hatch on the block doesn't advertise its model name at all (there isn't a Polo badge to be seen) it is simply a GTI. And it feels like that to drive too.

The little Volkswagen is quite good enough to be called revelatory, but it's significantly better than the Seat Ibiza Cupra it shares its underpinnings with. It won't engage the senses like the Clio, but the Polo GTI is easily good enough to be a potential smash. Unfortunately the UK won't see the car until September.

We were then lucky enough to jump into a Bentley Continental GTC – a truly luxurious way to waft around the twists and turns of the route. With hand-stitched leather and Bentley embossed trinkets on display throughout the cabin, it offered an experience we were sad to leave behind when we got out of the car.

Time for lunch now but check back in later for more Autoblog verdicts from the day.