Six months is long enough to know if a relationship – professional or otherwise – is going to work or fail. A bit of an in-house favourite since launching in late 2013, the latest addition to the CarAdvice Melbourne long-term garage is the Renault Clio RS200.
Starting at $34,790 (before on-road costs) our Liquid Yellow Renault Clio RS200 is the Sport Premium. Sitting below the limited edition flagship Monaco GP ($38,290) and Cup Premium ($37,290) variants, our newest little guy is the top-spec version of the entry-level RS200 Sport.
Being the latest version of a model (the Clio III RS) that has been around since 2006, the Clio IV RS is a perfect match for the CarAdvice Melbourne office.
Keeping the theme going, the freshest incarnation brings with it new ways of doing the same core things.
Successor to the cult favourite Clio III RS – the model that replaced the Clio II RS like that owned by CA’s very own Daniel DeGasperi – the new Clio IV RS has effectively ‘grown up’.
Dimensionally only 99mm longer than the Clio III – the IV being 36mm narrower and 3kg lighter – the RS200 has sprouted two rear doors and a turbocharger and traded a six-speed three-pedal manual set-up for a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The modern trend of downsizing engines also means a 147kW/240Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder replaces the old 145kW/215Nm naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine.
Those figures provide the little Renault with enough pep to out-power all of its current-day rivals, including the three-door manual-only Ford Fiesta ST (134kW), outgoing five-door DSG-only Volkswagen Polo GTI (132kW) and five-door-only Suzuki Swift Sport (100kW). It also puts it on par with the three-door manual-only Peugeot 208 GTi.
The French super mini does fall behind a little when it comes to torque output, though, trailing the 208 GTi and Polo GTI by 35Nm and 10Nm respectively. It does equal the Fiesta, however, and betters the 160Nm Swift. The Clio RS200 is also easily the most expensive of the group.
Standard equipment is extensive, though, and includes a seven-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, LED daytime running lights, automatic dusk sensing headlights, cruise control and speed limiter, climate control air conditioning, and automatic rain-sensing wipers.
Aiding ease of parking are hill start assist, rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and the Clio’s 10.9m turning circle. There’s also a six-speaker Arkamys stereo with Bluetooth and audio streaming, AUX and USB inputs and voice recognition.
Offering more entertainment are Renault’s real-time RS Monitor 2.0 telemetry system and a three-mode RS function allowing you to select ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ or ‘Race’ – the latter completely disengaging electronic stability control.
Exterior highlights include a satin grey F1-style aero 'blade', satin grey side strips and rear diffuser, gloss black door mirrors and door handles, rear privacy glass, rectangular chrome exhaust tips, a rear spoiler, and 17-inch Tibor alloy wheels.
Inside there are sports heated ‘carbon’ leather seats, RS kick plates, aluminium pedals and paddle shifters pinched from the Nissan GT-R. A red-stitched leather-wrapped RS-badged steering wheel and red seatbelts complete the sports-focused theme.
Teamed with a standard electronic limited-slip differential, the Renault Clio RS200’s other trick is its Sport chassis.
Intended to combine “responsive handling and on-road enjoyment”, Renault says the Sport set-up is the "slightly more laid-back option" compared with the lower and stiffer Cup chassis. We’ll see just how it handles Melbourne’s choppy roads, speed humps and tram tracks over the next 26 weeks.
Claiming a 6.7-second 0-100km/h time, we’re also looking forward to testing out the Clio RS’s 45-profile Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres and super easy to activate launch control function.
At the other end of the spectrum, front occupant safety is addressed with dual front and head and chest side airbags. Like all Clios, the RS misses out on the same rear curtain airbags omitted from the newly launched Clio-based Captur sub-compact SUV.
On the practicality front, the spritely five-door city car has three child seat anchorage points for its second row, however only two are ISOFIX compatible, and claims a 300-litre boot capacity (expandable to 1146L with 60:40 split-fold rear seats down).
And while RS Sport ‘Signature Paint’ ($750) is the only option fitted to our Sport Premium model, it does come attached to a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with 24-hour roadside assist.
The idea over the next six months is to hand the Clio RS around to all and sundry in the office, put it back-to-back against it’s competitors, drive the wheels off it at the track (figuratively speaking, for the folks at Renault Australia) and generally put it through its paces.
We’ll be looking at practicality and useability as well as driveability and fuel consumption – the latter claimed to be 6.3 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
So while we start to get familiar with mini French-wheel-drive, let us know if there is anything you specifically want to know or would like us to cover off or investigate and we’ll do our best to get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, happy driving…
Renault Clio RS200 Sport Premium
Date acquired: February 2015
Odometer reading: 2573km
Travel since previous update: N/A
Consumption since previous update: N/A
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