Renault Clio RenaultSport 200 Turbo - Why You'll Want One

Renaultsport Clio front angle

If you're in the market for a hot hatchback, you might already be aware of the new Clio RenaultSport.

You may also be in some doubt as to whether the new car can maintain the Clio's reputation as one of the best hot hatches on the market.

It's a hell of a reputation to defend. Few years have passed in the last two decades where a sporty Clio hasn't been one of the best ways to plaster a huge grin across your face. Since 1993, we've had the Clio Williams, 172, 182, Cup, Trophy, 200 Trophy and more. Each featured a masterful chassis and a zingy engine, a combination to make any B-road feel like the Nurburgring.

That's why there's some unrest over the new car. Five doors replaces three. A 1.6-litre turbocharged engine replaces a naturally-aspirated 2.0. And a dual-clutch transmission replaces the traditional manual gearbox.

Renaultsport Clio dials

We're not subscribing to the doom and gloom just yet, though.

For one, it's a striking shape. The curves and details form a cohesive whole, but thanks to the five-door body you can be assured of its practicality, surely part of the point of a hot hatch. Despite the extra metal, it's 36 kilos lighter than the old car.

It isn't short of performance, either.

The 1.6-litre engine produces 200 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and 240 Nm of torque from only 1,750 rpm. 6.7 seconds is all it takes to get to 62 mph.

Renaultsport Clio interior

More fascinating are the R.S. drive modes, Normal, Sport and Race. Normal is as you'd expect - the controls are set up for ease of use, responses are progressive, and all the safety systems are waiting in the wings.

Sport ups the ante - the accelerator pedal is granted greater response, gearshifts are quicker, and the stability control system allows a degree of slip. Even the idle speed is raised.

Select Race, and things get crazy. The paddleshift dual-clutch gearbox will do exactly as you tell it - no up- or down-shifting by itself, and it'll batter the limiter all day long. Gearchange speed quickens to under 150 milliseconds, and the traction and stability control systems leave you to it.

Renaultsport Clio info display

The Clio's central touchscreen display also shows R.S. monitor modes, with graphs and diagrams for torque, performance statistics, G-force, temperature and more.

It should handle, too. An electronic limited slip differential, known as 'R.S. Diff' enhances traction, while Sport suspension does its best to keep you on the road. An optional Cup chassis drops the suspension by 3mm, ups the spring rates by 15 percent and gives you a quicker steering rack.

Despite this commitment to performance, it'll cost you less to run than before. Economy has risen by 10.3 mpg, to 44.8 mpg combined. Road tax has dropped by a massive 325, and will set you back only 135.

Priced from: Announced 28 February
Available from: April, deliveries begin June

Renaultsport Clio rear angle

Conclusion

We'll reserve final judgement until we get behind the wheel, but the new Clio RenaultSport's spec sheet certainly looks appealing. More comfortable, quieter, more economical and more practical it may be, but it's also lighter, faster and finely honed. It's hard not to imagine that it'll be as animalistic as the current Clio RS when you press that race mode button - and equally fun, too.

But will it best its French rival, the Peugeot 208 GTI? It'll be fun finding out...

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