If the Renaultsport Mégane is the old face of hot Renaults, then the latest Renaultsport Clio 200 is the new one. We drove a full UK-spec car for the first time to see if there’s a bright future for the brand’s performance hatches.
Unlike the unforgiving Mégane and old Clio, Renaultsport has decided to make this latest car more comfortable and usable. It’s got a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox in place of a manual and a 1.6-litre turbo engine instead of a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre. The Renaultsport Clio 200 still has 197bhp, but with less weight and 25Nm more torque, it covers 0-62mph two-tenths faster than before, in 6.7 seconds. But it’s just not as fun.
The gearbox takes too long to respond to upshifts and the chassis has lost its playful charm. You still get plenty of grip and sharp responses from the throttle and steering – especially in Sport mode – but the Renaultsport Clio 200 ultimately loses out on thrills to the Ford Fiesta ST.
It’s more comfortable than both the ST and its predecessor, though, even on the firmer Cup springs fitted to our test car.
The looks won’t appeal to all, but we like the subtly muscular Clio. There are stylish touches inside, too, like a new steering wheel, with an RS badge and red dead-ahead marker.
But anyone thinking about buying a Renaultsport Clio should bear a couple of things in mind. Firstly, it’s no longer the enthusiast’s choice – that’s the Fiesta ST. Secondly, the £18,995 base price isn’t great value – a Fiesta ST and Peugeot 208 GTi are cheaper. It’s a good car, but it’s up against some impressive competition.