The all-new Renault Clio RS200 has launched in Australia with its sights set on asserting its authority over a number of new challengers in the city-sized hot-hatch segment.
The new Clio RS200 reaches our shores a few months earlier than originally anticipated thanks predominantly to Australia gaining production priority from Renault head office on the back of the popularity of the hotter Megane RS265 – with Australia the second-largest RS265 market after France in 2012.
The fourth-generation Clio is a very different car to its predecessor. Where the old RS was a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre available exclusively with a manual transmission and a three-door hatchback body, the new Clio RS200 features a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, a six-speed dual-clutch automatic and a larger five-door body.
It’s also available with the option of the softer Sport chassis to complement the firmer, track-focused Cup chassis.
The introduction of the Sport chassis sees the entry price of the Renault Clio RS fall $7700 to $28,790, undercutting the $29,990 Peugeot 208 GTi and $29,190 Volkswagen Polo GTI five-door, while commanding a $2800 premium over the $25,990 Ford Fiesta ST.
Renault claims this difference is more than offset by the Clio’s standard dual-clutch transmission, launch control, touchscreen satellite navigation, and three-mode (Normal, Sport, Race) RS Drive function, all of which are unavailable in the baby Ford.
Other standard features in the entry-level Clio RS200 Sport include 17-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights and wipers, LED daytime running lights, steering wheel-mounted paddleshifters, aluminium pedals, and a four-speaker, two-tweeter audio system with AUX/USB inputs and Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming.
The harder Cup models – which feature stiffer springs and dampers and a 3mm-lower ride height, as well as larger 18-inch alloy wheels and red brake calipers – cost $2500 over their Sport equivalents, while the premium Trophy grade (available with either chassis) adds $5500 and includes rear parking sensors and reversing camera, leather upholstery, heated front seats, climate control, and an upgraded infotainment system with enhanced audio, R-Link apps and the F1-inspired RS Monitor 2.0 data logging system.
The result is a new four-variant line-up that tops out at $36,790 – just $300 more than the old starting point.
The Renault Clio RS200’s new engine – a retuned version of that found in the Nissan Pulsar SSS – produces 147kW of power at 6000rpm and 240Nm of torque at 1750rpm, up 25Nm from its predecessor and delivered 3650rpm sooner.
Accelerating from 0-100km/h takes a claimed 6.7 seconds (0.2sec quicker than before), while combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 6.3 litres per 100km, making the new model almost 25 per cent more fuel efficient.
All Clio RS models are now equipped with an electronic differential, which monitors front wheel traction and brakes whichever front wheel threatens to lose grip around corners without reducing engine torque. Renault claims the ‘RS Diff’ significantly improves accelerative performance and cornering grip, while also limiting the onset of understeer.
Also standard is ‘hydraulic compression control’, which incorporates a secondary damper in the main damper’s body in the pursuit of greater comfort and a more progressive damping action.
The Clio’s brake discs measure 320mm at the front and 260mm at the rear.
At 4090mm long, 1732mm wide, 1448mm tall and riding on a 2589mm wheelbase, the Renault Clio RS200 is 73mm longer and 36mm lower and narrower than the old model, and 4mm longer between the wheels.
The Clio’s boot now swallows 300 litres of cargo (up 12L) and expands to 1146L with the 60:40 split rear seats folded forwards.
The party piece of the Clio RS200’s interior is the RS Monitor 2.0 that comes standard in the flagship Trophy grade. Owners can view real-time data for power, torque, brake pressure and turbo pressure, among a host of other measurements; set performance data benchmarks, including 0-100km/h sprints; and view g-force, wheel spin and transmission internals information.
Additionally, RS Monitor 2.0’s GPS-linked data logger operates like the computers of a Formula One pit crew, allowing drivers to record the data of laps around race tracks onto a USB and analyse their drive by uploading the data to the free RS Replay website.
Renault Australia has big expectations for the new Clio RS200, hoping to sell 500 in 2014 – up from just 69 of the previous-generation Clio RS in 2012, it last full sales year. It is predicting a 60:40 sales split between Cup and Sport models.
The Renault Clio RS200 is covered by a three-year unlimited-kilometre warranty with 24-hour roadside assistance, and comes standard with the brand’s capped-price servicing program, with the first three scheduled services (completed at 12-month/10,000km intervals) capped at $299.
Renault Clio RS200 manufacturer’s list prices: