Renault likes to think of its RS cars as having DNA that comes from the racetrack but translates to the road. Well, today, we’re going back the other way, taking the city-dwelling Clio RS to Sandown Raceway for another CarAdvice weekend warrior track test…
Now my voice might not be the best today but luckily it’s not about me it’s about this. Meet CarAdvice’s newest long-termer, the Renault Clio RS200 Sport Premium.
Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with 147kW and 240Nm.
Outside things look suitably sporty with an F1-style aero ‘blade’, gloss black wing mirrors and door handles, chrome exhaust tips, a rear spoiler, and these 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres.
Inside we get heated sports leather seats, aluminium pedals, a proper handbrake and plenty of bright red highlights.
Gone is the old Clio III’s six-speed manual, replaced by a new six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
This seven-inch touchscreen is also standard and is home to both satellite navigation and the boy-racer-pleasing RS Monitor telemetry system, which can also do data logging.
While we’re in the cabin let’s also point out this. This little silver button here lets us switch between ‘Normal’, ‘RS Sport’ and ‘Race’ modes.
Renault claims the Clio RS can get you from a standstill to your favourite coffee shop 100km/h away in 6.7 seconds. It does that with the help of a launch control system but also an electronic limited-slip front differential.
Now as the name suggests, the Sport Premium Clio RS sits on a Sport chassis, which while not as focused as the lower and stiffer Cup chassis, is a bit more forgiving on the street. But we’re not on the street right now, we’re on the track, and initially the car feels pretty good.
The seats hold you in really well and I’ve got just enough headroom to clear the helmet, so I’m not restricted in any way, which is really good. Vision out of the mirrors is also excellent.
I’m sure you can hear this very pokey little engine revving around. The engine’s really clean and happy revving out though.
There is one glaring factor that doesn’t do what you want all the time, and you may be already suspicious of what I’m going to say, and it is that dual-clutch gearbox.
The gear changes are quick, you can’t deny that, it just doesn’t quite give you the same experience as driving a manual car.
The steering’s really nice, it’s got lovely weighting to it, it’s very consistent and gives you some nice feedback as well. The steering’s definitely a highlight for me as well as the brakes.
Really good lateral grip from these tyres – the turn-in is nice too.
For the compliance that you get out of the Sport chassis on the road, it’s really quite telling how composed and well balanced it is on the track. It’s got a little bit of movement there – it’s definitely playful – but I don’t really feel like the Cup chassis would be a huge level different.
The whole package pretty much does what you want all the time.
The Renault Clio RS is no supercar. And while it might have marketing DNA from Formula One, it’s no track-only racer either. What it is though, is a unique fusion of city-sized dimensions and spirited aspirations. It’s agile, capable and most importantly, fun. We do however, miss that manual transmission…