Renaultsport Clio 200 review
For pure handling fun, huge grip and razor-sharp reactions, choose the Renaultsport Clio
Renaultsport has gained a well-earned reputation as the best hot hatch producer in Europe and the Renaultsport Clio 200 is arguably its finest work. A true hot hatch of old, it has a stiff set up but faultless body control, super sharp steering and stacks of cornering grip. The 2.0-litre engine relishes hard work and sounds great, while the exterior styling is beautifully executed. The entry-level Cup version forgoes luxuries like air conditioning but has stiffer springs and dampers, alternatively you can add Cup suspension to the more expensive and better equipped standard Clio 200.
Our choice: 2.0 Renaultsport 200 Cup 3dr
One of the best-looking hot hatches money can buy, the attractive standard Clio shape is gently beefed up with bulging arches and a wider track. Clever detailing like the F1-inspired front bumper insert and rear diffuser give it a purposeful look, while the wheelarch vents are another racy touch. Options like a black roof; red brake calipers, satin wheels and gloss exterior trim can give the Renaultsport Clio 200 even more presence. Regular special editions offer subtly different looks.
Thanks to its firm suspension, the Renault isn’t that comfortable to live with on a day-to-day basis, although non-Cup chassis versions are a little less uncompromising. The engine isn’t relaxed either - peak power is produced at a heady 7,100rpm but the 197bhp unit thrives on hard work, delivering scintillating performance. In the corners the chassis is alive with feedback and the Clio’s responses are razor-sharp. There’s lots of grip and the car is easily adjusted on the throttle, while strong brakes and stability control that isn’t too intrusive and can be disengaged if you want, finishes a fun packed dynamic set up.
A hugely successful competition car, the Clio Renaultsport’s technology transfer from motorsport ensures robust components and mechanicals designed to take punishment. When it comes to safety stability control is standard. Cup models don’t get curtain airbags but the standard car does, it also gets cruise control and front fog lamps.
Being based on a family friendly supermini like the Clio gives the Renaultsport a strong start when it comes to practicality. The 288-litre boot is decent, although you don’t get a spare wheel, just a foam inflation kit. The entry-level Cup model has single rear bench and doesn’t get split/fold rear seats - although these are standard on the 200. The optional Recaro race style front seats hold you in place but can get uncomfortable on long journeys.
With a rev happy engine that needs to be worked hard, spirited driving takes its toll on economy, especially as 70mph in top equates to 3,200rpm, meaning cruising isn’t that efficient either. But emissions of 190g/km and a combined economy of 34.4mpg are pretty good for a car that delivers this much fun. Group 31 insurance will be an issue for younger drivers, while the racy Clio needs servicing every 12,000 miles. At least, Renault offers fixed priced deals to make this manageable.