RENAULT has announced specs and prices for its long-awaited Clio Renaultsport model, which is expected to arrive in UK showrooms in June.
The company will be able to build upon the enormous goodwill generated by previous quick Clios but the new car will face plenty of competition.
‘Launch control’ optimises off the mark performance – generally found only in supercars
Ford’s impressive new Fiesta ST undercuts the cheapest Clio Renaultsport by £2000, although like another contender, the SEAT Ibiza Cupra, the Renault has a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) instead of the manual fitted to the Fiesta.
And there’s a new fast small Peugeot around the corner as well – the 208 GTI.
On paper, the 200 horsepower Clio Renaultsport looks like it has an edge over the 182PS Fiesta ST, but an over-boost function allows the Ford the match the Renault’s power when it matters on overtaking manoeuvres.
That said, the fastest Clio still packs plenty of technology; the DCT, for example, has three modes; Normal, Sport and Race, with the last of these being entirely manual in operation.
It has ‘launch control’, designed to optimise off-the-line performance, a feature generally found only in supercars, and the stability control system can be disconnected completely.
There’s also a special Renaultsport differential and enhancements to the steering, suspension and brakes compared with other Clios – and there’s a so-called Sound Pipe that channels the best of the engine noise into the cabin, a popular feature on sporty cars these days.
Two versions are available – a standard car at £18,995 and a Lux model with more trimmings at £19,995. Enthusiasts will also be interested in the £450 optional Cup chassis which features a slightly lower ride height, a stiffer chassis a quicker steering rack and glossy black eighteen-inch Renaultsport wheels with Dunlop Sport Maxx TT tyres.
One final attraction – or perhaps gimmick – if the Clio Renaultsport doesn’t sound fruity enough for your tastes.
If you order a Lux model with Renault’s R-Link connectivity solution – good for business car users – you can enjoy an app that mimics the sound of other high-performance cars and plays it through the speakers. Choices include the Renault Alpine A110, Renault R8 Gordini and and Renault partner Nissan’s GT-R.