We're two months into our French affair with the Renault Clio RS. But like many relationships, things haven't all been smooth sailing…
Ensuring everyone in the CarAdvice Melbourne office – and those north of the border who drop in for extended stays – gets time behind the leather-wrapped wheel of our Renault Clio RS200 Sport Premium, it's been doing the rounds.
Palmed off to Mike to check its tall-man credentials, our petite yellow explosion then got some time alone with our resident tech guru Scott, live-in shooter Tom and Mr All-to-happy-to-steal-whatever-looks-fun himself, James Ward.
And here’s what they had to say…
Thanks to its ‘Sport’ chassis, the Clio RS’s body control inspires preternatural confidence.
Its turn-in is sharper than a pack of fresh Gillette razors (and the car costs less than said razors, too), and the blips you get on downshifts when in ‘RS’ mode make you feel like a pro.
The cabin plastics are pretty ordinary, though. Over a bumpy road, the door trims are creakier than Nanna's knee on a winter’s morning.
Also, plug your iPhone into the car via its USB input and it spasmodically charges, and then fails to pickup the device, at precise one-second intervals. Enough to drive one loco. Sadly, this isn't the first Clio I’ve experienced with a flawed multimedia system.
My first drive saw me head all the way from Cremorne to Collingwood for a meeting. For the uninitiated, that’s less than four kilometres and I barely got out of second gear. But I was quite excited to drive it.
Being small and fun, it definitely feels like it should be a manual but that said, I enjoyed using the paddle shifters and they seem more at home in the Clio RS than in some other paddle-equipped cars.
I love the conspicuous colour and found myself intentionally leaving the radio off to better appreciate the sound – and pops – of the turbocharged engine.
I like the little thing because it’s fast, sporty and unique – I haven't seen many others on the road – and I haven’t yet noticed anything I don't like about it. I'll be sure to pay more attention next drive…
In general, I find it a really fun thing to drive – especially in RS mode.
The heated leather seats hold you in well and the steering is nicely weighted. Having all the real-time vehicle telemetry data is cool too, even if, at times, it feels like a bit of a gimmick.
Like Mike says, inside, there’s lots of plastic around... and I despise the plastic gear-shift button.
The cruise control system is silly too. Having a button down near the handbrake instead of having all controls just on the steering wheel is fiddly and unintuitive. Adding to frustration, you can't use it when in RS mode – naff.
I’ve also had the passenger window get ‘stuck’ a few times.
Believe it or not, I’ve barely driven it. But I want to like it.
I love the optional ($750) Liquid Yellow paint and the whole car’s overall look. I wish it was manual though, and, while I wanted it to be cool, for me, the R-Sound Effect RS system is simply poorly executed and disappointing.
Thanks to my age and years of muscle memory, it’s also only a matter of time before I snap the poor little Clio’s phone/audio control hub - mounted to the back of the steering wheel - clean off thinking it’s the key slotted into the ignition barrel.
I really want to spend more time with it and get to know it better, but in the meantime, I’ll just keep laughing at the funny torque steer/wheel spin gauge.
We’ve so far notched up 2918km and averaged 9.5 litres of premium unleaded fuel per 100km – or 9.8L/100km according to the car’s own trip computer – with a best recorded fuel consumption figure of 8.5L/100km (2.2L/100km behind the Clio’s 6.3L/100km factory claim).
We’re planning on hitting the circuit sometime soon to test out the RS200’s on-track capabilities and possibly its unique launch control system. At the same time we’ll look deeper into its practical side – it is a five-door after all – and see if the Renault can bounce back into some people’s good graces.
Click on the Photos tab for more 2015 Renault Clio RS200 images by Tom Fraser.
Renault Clio RS200 Sport Premium
Date acquired: February 2015
Odometer reading: 5491km
Travel since previous update: 2918km
Consumption since previous update: 9.5L/100km (actual); 9.8L/100km (claimed)
Fuel cost since previous update: $363.74