Got mine as an ex-demo at an amazing prize. $24,999 to be exact. Considering the price I was always going to be impressed but this is a vehicle I would have payed double that for.(okay….maybe I’d rather have the Megane RS..) None the less I can’t heap praise on this car enough. The sport being the base model does not feel in anyway shape or form an entry level ‘cheap skate’ into the RenaultSport brand. Everyone whose been in the car has been impressed with the comfiness of the seats and how they hug you around bends, sure the leather option looks and may very well feel nicer, along with the heated seats but there is certainly no complaints on that front.
The soft-touch plastics inside also feel of a high quality and the lovely steering wheel stitched with the red-orange accents looks very nice. Even smaller touches such as the red seat belts help distinguish this very early on as a hands down sports car, a term that seems to get thrown around a lot these days.
Enough about the interior though, the punchy 1.6L Turbo engine up front easily feels powerful enough despite not being the roaring 2.0L naturally aspirated beast of yesteryear. It certainly has some pull, comments from passengers all notice just how quickly the thing takes of the mark, chuck into to ‘Sport’ or ‘Race’ mode and it takes to a whole other level. The Le’Mans style flappy paddle shifters make you feel like a little race car driver and rumour has it they’ve been shipped straight from the Nissan GTR.
That’s not to say the Clio RS is not without fault as by no means is it a perfect vehicle. Rear visibility is poor and the lack of a rear view camera is Sport variant is frustrating, the media system is jumpy and glitchy on Bluetooth. The USB connector is also in a stupid position. The biggest complaint among Renault Sport fans is the lack of a manual option. Renaults EDC (Efficiant Dual Clutch) being the only option. Why broadening itself to a larger market by introducing this change it must be said that the gear changes do feel a little slow, especially in normal mode. Switching into ‘Sport’ or ‘Race’ on the RS Drive does do the gear box favours but you still find yourself overriding the automatic transmission when stuck in 3rd gear when you should be 4th.
Despite these very…well let’s be honest..’French’ quirks you still can’t but help love the little thing. Pop on Renault ‘Liquid Yellow’ paint and boy does it look beautiful, almost makes you forget about those aforementioned problems.
The new addition of 5 door practicality also is quite good. Though many complained that the Clio RS has gone soft, that argument doesn’t have much ground to stand on. The door handles are cleverly hidden and it’s not until close inspection that you can even tell it’s not a ‘coupe’ style vehicle it disguises itself as. Many a friend of mind struggled to find the rear door to my amusement to only be pleasantly surprised.
Although I wish for the Akarpovic exhaust it’s bigger brother in the Megane RS possesses I must say that i find myself each time with a smile from ear to ear when I hear that little angry exhaust pop and crackle from the rear end on a 3rd to 2nd downshift.
The styling of the rear exhausts is subtle yet sporty and easily enough to differ itself from a base Clio in the non RenaultSport range.
In conclusion, yes this vehicle has its problems, yes it’s not the vehicle it was in this previous range but there is nothing wrong with that. Renault were never going to bring out the same car and RenaultSport must prove their existance in a day an age where cult status is not enough and sales matter most. I would recommend to my fullest extent this car to anyone looking at it, the punchy engine inspires confidence, the sporty yet practical looks don’t reduce it to a once a month track day punt and most of all you find yourself smiling for no reason at all. Time an time again I find myself making excuses to take it for a spin and isnt that what matters most in a car….having fun.