spot_img
HomeLAUNCHEDRENAULT CLIO R.S.

RENAULT CLIO R.S.

Any fast Renault Clio will make enthusiasts weak at the knees – and the new Renault Clio Renault Sport is no exception. 

The Renault Clio has always been a favourite South African hatch alternative. Somehow not plagued by the all-Frenchies-are-bad perception, it’s stuck around for many years, helping Renault SA maintain, and grow, their sales figures locally.

In Renault Sport (R.S.) guise it’s even more popular among brand enthusiasts, and for the 2017 model year is now fitted with a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, producing either 147 kW in LUX (standard) form, or 162 kW if you decide to go for the street munching Trophy model. Both come with a six-speed twin-clutch gearbox that lets you play out your F1 fantasies from the comfort of the Clio’s body-hugging driver’s seat.

For the new model, Renault has dumped the three-door body shape in favour of a five-door configuration only, so besides being fast, it is also quite practical.

VISUALLY ENHANCED

In case you’re worried that the uninitiated may confuse your R.S. with a normal Clio, fear not. Thanks to a ground-hugging front spoiler, a rear diffuser, a roof-mounted wing and twin exhaust pipes, the R.S. is distinctively sporty, and if you opt for the Trophy version you an upgraded louder – and beautifully sonorous – exhaust system from motorsport specialists Akrapovic, a first for a series production car in this class.

Also new is Renault’s multi-faceted lighting system that coordinates the vehicle’s fog lights (which, by the way, resemble a chequered flag) cornering lights, plus the sidelights and headlights to improve night-time visibility. This feature alone adds loads of sex appeal to the already stunning silhouette.

DRIVING IT LIKE YOU OWN IT

For a front-wheel drive car, the Clio is extremely happy to let its tail slide, but not in a way that feels uncontrolled. In fact, it’s a measure of the car’s abilities that it seemed completely at ease on the twistier sections of the Slanghoek pass, where Renault launched the new model to the local motoring media. Despite that particular section of blacktop being rather bumpy and uneven, the little Renault rocket was seldom unnerved, and never felt out of sorts.

Adittedly, the standard Clio Renault Sport’s pointy steering setup is amplified in the Trophy, but then it does come with larger 18” alloy wheels and a suspension setup that’s lowered by 20 mm at the front and 10 mm at the back. It’s the hardest of three incremental setups that include softer Sport and mildly firm Cup. Both models get Renault’s R.S. Drive system, which can alter the responsiveness of the engine and gearbox, and reduces intervention from the car’s traction and stability control systems.

The six-speed twin-clutch gearbox has come in for criticism in the past, and it remains less responsive than some rivals. It did make me feel somewhat less involved in the whole experience, especially under hard acceleration or when fumbling for the steering wheel-mounted paddles that fall out of reach during fast cornering.

LAST WORD

If you’re going to buy a hot hatch, it makes sense to spend a little more and lay your hands on the Trophy at R419,900. The power hike over the LUX model (R379,900 is significant in this light body. If you’re more concerned with a supple ride quality than all-out performance, the latter would be a better choice. Either way, the R.S. will stir those enthused to the brand, whom will likely also take comfort in the fact that, as with the rest of the Renault range, the new Clio R.S. models come standard with a 5-year/150,000 km mechanical warranty, and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty.  A 3-year/30,000k m service plan applies, with service intervals of 10,000 km.

RELATED ARTICLES

MERCEDES-BENZ GLS

BMW X2

Most Popular

BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS

MINIMAL MARVEL

LDV GROWING LOCALLY