The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
Faster and nimbler, yet somehow more comfortable and efficient than ever before – a fun all-rounder for the enthusiast driver
Pros
Quicker than old model
More economical than ever
More comfortable for everyday use
Cons
Semi-auto transmission
Softened edges remove some of the fun
You may long for a naturally aspirated engine

Renault Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo review (2013-on)

Faster, nimbler, more comfortable

More Info

What is the Renault Clio Renaultsport 200?

Renault’s tuning division has got its hands on the new fourth generation Clio and turned it into a pretty potent track weapon. Whereas the previous generation Renaultsport Clio 200 mk3 was a fairly raw, uncompromising (and brilliant) driver’s car, Renault was keen to widen the appeal this time around and has made a number of significant changes to make it easier to live with day-to-day.

As the name suggests, power output is 200bhp, which now comes from a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine offering an extra 10 miles of motoring for every gallon compared with the 2-litre, naturally-aspirated Clio 200 mk3.


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The suspension has been stiffened and lowered. Rally-bred dampers help improve the handling while smoothing out the bumps. Only one transmission is offered and, controversially, it’s not a manual ‘box but a six-speed semi-automatic dual-clutch (EDC) unit with F1-style paddle shifts.

A Cup version of the car is also offered with a 3mm lower ride height and 15% stiffer suspension, plus 18” wheels and high-performance tyres.

The drive

Renaultsport has done a remarkable job at making this new generation Clio 200 faster, more comfortable and more efficient. Thanks to the small yet punchy 1.6 turbocharged engine you’ll be facing fewer trips to the pumps but, at the same time, making seriously rapid progress on tight and twisty roads as the eager little motor, which delivers peak torque from just 1,750rpm, blasts you out of the corners.

Through every twist and turn the car remains remarkably level and seems to have an unlimited level of grip, even in damp conditions. This trick is achieved with the help of a new electronic differential which uses torque vectoring to lightly brake the inside wheels while cornering, as well as rally-bred Hydraulic Compression Control dampers that soak up imperfections while keeping the car relatively stiff. We were filled with confidence to press on and the Clio 200 Turbo flattered our driving every step of the way. In a test against the outgoing model, we were left with the impression that the new car is the quicker of the two, especially from standstill thanks to another clever technology borrowed from Formula One:  launch control.

However, it’s not all good news. We weren’t fans of the paddle shift gearbox (no stick shift is offered), which overrode us on a few of the more red line-brushing  downshifts, even when the car’s computerised brain was set to the less-intrusive Race mode. Normal and Sport modes offer varying levels of engine and transmission responsiveness.

While the car is way quicker round a race track than a 1.6-litre supermini has any right to be, and does provide a good dose of fun, purists will miss the manual gearbox and high-revving naturally aspirated engines in previous generations. However, newcomers may see this as the ideal time to join the Renaultsport pack, as the Clio 200 Turbo’s dual personalities of comfortable everyday cruiser and track day terror will increase its appeal to less confident buyers and those who don’t want to compromise on comfort.

The interior 

Renault has brought the interior right up to date and, despite its racing pedigree, many mod-cons have been included as standard, including a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, cruise control, handsfree keycard entry, electric front windows, air conditioning and ISOFIX child seat fixing points.

Go for the LUX trim and you can also get TomTom sat nav, sports trim, bespoke 17” alloy wheels and Climate control. It all makes for a surprisingly civilised environment, and one in which you would quite happily drive long distances in great comfort. The question is, is that the point of this car?

Unlike the old model, the new Renaultsport Clio 200 comes only in five-door form, which allows for easier access to the rear seats. However, there’s of course still not a huge amount of room back there for taller passengers.

The one to buy

Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC

Factfile

  • Price: £18,995 (Correct at time of publication)
  • Engine: 1618cc, turbocharged
  • Power: 200bhp @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 177 lb ft @ 1,750rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed semi-automatic
  • Acceleration: 0-62mph in 6.7sec
  • Top speed: 143mph
  • Fuel: 44.8mpg (combined)
  • CO2: 144g/km
  • Road tax band: F
  • Dimensions:  L 4062mm, W 1731mm, H 1448mm

 

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