I’m not sure about you, but I’m a large, powerful, luxury sedan type of man. My logic revolves around purchasing the largest possible piece of metal for your buck. So when a silly little hatchback comes my way via “The EFTM Garage” I usually behave like a kid whose suffered lollipop theft. But this week along came the Renault Clio RS200 Sport
The 10 Minute Test Drive
The Clio badge doesn’t exactly scream manliness, a point proven when I arrived at a recent family gathering. My large contingent of rev head cousins certainly rammed that point home.
But when you buckle up that orange seatbelt, grip the genuine sports steering wheel, feel the Nissan GT-R sourced paddle shifters and hear the snap, crackle and pop from the exhaust – you soon grow a few more chest hairs.
Within minutes you realise this is can be a very rapid car indeed. Personally I’ve never experienced the unusual vacuum like whoosh hard acceleration produces from the twin rear exhaust. The engine itself certainly knocks at the door loudly and proudly but it’s the gushy by-product sound that’s most intriguing.
Renault, as you’d expect, has produced a beautifully balanced handling package. For a legitimate hot hatch it’s also quite livable, with a ride that soaks up unwanted pavement is a way similar to a Volkswagen Golf. But throw it hard into a corner, and honestly it’s guaranteed smiles all-round.
As a space to sit in, Renault offers a semi premium experience. It’s no German, but sits nicely among the likes of Mazda and pips its direct competitor the Ford Fiesta ST. Modern and striking; the cabin itself is a conversation starter.
Ins and outs
A 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol returns figures of 147kW @6000rpm and 240Nm @1750rpm. This looks good on paper but it’s on the asphalt that matters.
For me, it feels quicker than the Fiesta ST. This is probably a combination of a lightning dual-clutch EDC automatic gear box versus the manual only Ford. There’s a GT-R like launch control feature that works a treat. The Normal, Sport and Race mode button also alters the little Clio’s personality dramatically. The accompanying rise in throttle response and even slicker gear changes contribute to that sense of sheer pace.
Unlike the Fiesta ST, the Renault RS200 can be dressed up or down according to budget. Our test car was the bottom rung “Sport” spec. Also available is a firmer “Cup” tuned chassis or the “Trophy” level which brings added luxury.
The lower spec we found ourselves in missed out on a race telemetry system. A system which provides more statistics than a census.
But given EFTM just spent a week in the Ford Fiesta ST, I would have to conclude that the blue oval’s effort is ever so slightly more engaging.
$28,790 plus $550 for the Flame Red metallic paint will get you our test car. Then there’s the Cup model at $31,290. A Sport Trophy will set you back $34,290 while the hero model the Cup Trophy peaks at $36,790.
Allegedly you can get 6.7l / 100km at the pump, but you won’t because hot hatches aren’t driven by librarians.
As mentioned you’ll cop the odd jibe about driving a Clio. Perhaps warranted if you are getting around in the Renault Clio Dynamique we had in the EFTM Garage last week. (By no means a bad car). But as I did, take any doubter for a quick spin, it’s the ultimate antidote for the venomous bite of a critic.
A fantastic little car. Some pluses over the still dominant Ford Fiesta ST include five doors, a 6-speed automatic, standard satellite navigation and a better interior. It’s a more livable car, that’s able to accommodate an espresso overdose whenever the time calls.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
Fun, French flair is on display here, and I walked away pretty wrapped about it. There are a few little things that caught my attention. Creaking from somewhere in the rear indicated to me the body flexed over certain angles and the steering rack would do the same every time I mounted my driveway. Bluetooth streaming was annoyingly jumpy, a problem which may have been a one off on the press car provided. But that aside, the Renault Clio RS200 Sport earns the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp.