FRESH on the heels of RenaultSport’s previous sporty Clios, the firm has introduced a hot version of the new one. Can it keep the magic alive? Leon Poultney finds out.
What is it?
The fire breathing brother of the recently rejuvenated Clio. A race-ready hot hatch that proudly boasts 200hp (197bhp) underneath the bonnet and years of motorsport success in its DNA. But unlike previous hot Clio offerings, the latest model aims to provide enthusiasts with greater practicality, a more pliant ride and improved efficiency.
What’s under the bonnet?
The 1.6 litre engine receives direct injection turbo charging for the first time. The introduction of a turbo means an increase in torque (25Nm to be precise) and a much flatter delivery. Fuel economy has also been improved thanks to some clever tech – 44mpg is now achievable on the combined cycle and emissions have been slashed by almost a quarter. It emits 144g/km of CO2, saving potential buyers £325 in VED.
Not too shabby. Two trim levels will be on offer; standard and Lux. The latter adds a beefier sound system, auto lights and wipers, electrically-folding mirrors and an R-Link system that can record lap times, monitor G-forces and download it all onto a USB stick for nerdy perusal later. Standard trim level includes all the RS badging, 17-inch alloys and the aforementioned R.S Drive mode selector. Standard costs £18,995 – Lux versions costs £1,000 more.
What’s it like to drive?
There is a lot to love about the hot Clio, including the engine note that is piped into the cabin – but the drive isn’t quite as ferocious as the soundtrack makes out. This is a quick car, but not neck-snappingly quick. The chassis is well judged though, firm enough in Race mode to allow for superbly flat cornering but forgiving enough in Comfort not to put off less enthusiastic drivers. However, this does mean the hardcore edge of previous models has undoubtedly been lost.
What do the press think of it?
Car Magazine concluded: ‘The new Clio RS isn’t as satisfying to drive as its predecessor…[but] it is now a much more appealing daily proposition than before.’
What do we think of it?
This is a great car and it will not fail to put a smile on owners’ faces but it is sure to upset diehard fans of Renaultsport models. It’s not quite aggressive enough to achieve truly legendary status but what it lacks in performance prowess it more than make up for with comfort and bags of practicality. This is definitely the five-door family car that can cart the kids around during the week yet reveal its darker side at weekends.