Renault Gordini is back!

9 Mar, 2009 12:10pm David Johns

It’s allez les bleus, as French firm revives legendary name for new hot hatch family.

Renault is set to bring back one of its most famous sporting badges – Gordini! And the French giant will use it in a bid to rival top seller MINI, which has enjoyed huge success with its Cooper and Cooper S models.

Sitting just below the current Renaultsport performance range, the Gordini brand will create a new line-up of hot hatches, giving buyers a greater chance to personalise their car.

Gordinis will get a wide mix of paint schemes, body stripes and alloy wheel combinations. It’s an approach that’s worked really well for MINI – and Fiat, too, with its Abarth line-up – and Renault hopes to capitalise. The first model will be the Twingo Gordini, which is scheduled to appear in 2010. This will be followed by hot versions of the Clio, as well as the new Mégane Coupé shown here. It gets the famous Gordini blue paintwork along with striking white stripes and contrasting black alloys.

Renault’s senior vice president of global marketing – Stephen Norman – confirmed at the Geneva Motor Show that both Gordini and Gordini S cars are likely.

“The aim is to reintroduce Gordini along the lines of the MINI Cooper and Cooper S,” he told Auto Express. That would leave room for the Renaultsport brand to move further up the range – building on the new models unveiled at Geneva – with Gordini models offering warm performance. Power is likely to be provided by new small-capacity TCE turbo engines.

Gordini cars first came to prominence when they raced in Formula One in the Fifties. The firm then worked with Renault, tuning engines and creating fast road cars, including the 8, 12 and – lastly, in the Eighties – the Gordini 5.

The idea to bring the name back is part of a push by Renault to boost its perception, Norman added: “Between 2003 and 2007, Renault’s brand image declined, especially in the UK, from being on a level with VW to where we are now.” Bosses believe the new designs – such as the Renaultsport Mégane Coupé and Clio – plus the arrival of Gordini will boost sales. Norman suggested that Gordini could be used as the backbone of a new club racing formula.

The decision to revive the brand came after top brass ditched plans for an Alpine comeback, which would have included a new sports car. But Renault has decided to focus on ranges that make financial sense in the current downturn.

Hot new duo debuts

As well as announcing its Gordini plans, the firm revealed its latest Renaultsport models at Geneva.

The Mégane 250 gets a 247bhp 2.0-litre petrol turbo and features a new bodykit with piano black trim. For the first time, it also comes in lightweight Cup spec, with a limited slip diff. Sales start in October.

Before that, in May, comes the Renaultsport Clio. It gets a 197bhp 2.0-litre engine, plus a Cup option.

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