Renault Clio Gordini

Historic tuning badge finds its way on to hot Renaultsport supermini.

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

A Renaultsport-badged car always gives big thrills, but none of the Gordini’s upgrades add to the driving experience offered by the normal Clio 200. The historic name raises your expectations – and the price – but ultimately the Clio can’t deliver on the promise of its racy looks. Renault has missed the chance to use the Gordini badge to launch more focused versions of its tuned models; instead the flagship will leave you feeling overcharged and underwhelmed. We would stick to the excellent standard car instead.

The Gordini family has another new member! Following hot on the heels of the sporty Twingo in Issue 1,122 is this special Clio. Sitting at the very top of the supermini range, the Gordini uses the Renaultsport Clio 200 as its base – a car that continues to set the dynamic benchmark for all small hot hatches.

That means it has the same 197bhp naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine, and the standard ‘sport’ chassis. Gordini trim is designed to add some extra visual flair and an element of luxury that is otherwise missing on the Clio 200.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Renault Clio

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The eye-catching 17-inch blue painted alloy wheels are a £100 option, but the white racing stripes, F1-style front grille insert, white door mirrors and rear diffuser are all standard, and ensure that this is one Clio that gets plenty of attention. On the road, the beefed-up styling really makes an impact. Compared to a regular Clio 200, the Gordini certainly looks flamboyant.

Inside, the interior is light years away from the stripped-out Cup version, as the steering wheel, gearlever and seats are all draped in contrasting blue and grey leather, while the inclusion of a gloss black centre console does a remarkable job of lifting the normally drab cabin. What’s more, although it’s a three-door, once you’ve clambered into the back, there’s a reasonable amount of room for passengers.

It’s still an exhilarating car to drive quickly. Peak power doesn’t arrive until 7,100rpm, and acceleration becomes increasingly urgent as the revs climb, while the noisy bark from the exhaust becomes a full-blooded growl.

The snappy gearchange, beautifully weighted steering and sharp chassis all mean the Gordini is a joy to use, but it’s difficult to unlock the Clio’s potential during everyday driving. Its electrifying pace only shines through when it’s driven very hard, and often you’re left wishing for an empty stretch of road (or track) to make the most of its ability.

However, the plush seats and extra kit, such as automatic lights and wipers, automatic climate control and an optional (£450) TomTom sat-nav, seem at odds with the Clio 200’s stiff ride and racy image.

As with the Twingo, there’s no increase in power to go with the Gordini’s inflated price. Overall, it’s hard to justify the extra £1,940 for what’s essentially a cosmetic styling kit.

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