To give it its full name, this is the new Renault Clio
Renaultsport 200 Turbo. While that last suffix might have the ghost of the old
Renault 5 GT Turbo pricking up an ear, the rest of it you will be familiar
But this, dear Internet, is a new breed of Clio RS. It is a
turbocharged Clio RS. With an automatic gearbox.
Until further notice - that is, until we’ve driven it -
you’ll have to give Renault the benefit of the doubt. After all, the
Renaultsport division is pretty handy with a monkey wrench and proven itself adept at chassis tuning.
And so, this new RS ditches the old naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-pot for the Nissan Juke’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, offered exclusively - for now
- on the Clio.
It features ‘diamond like carbon’ cam followers, variable
valve timing and a fruity exhaust note, apparently. As the name suggests, it develops
200bhp, and 180lb ft of torque from just 1,750rpm, running through an EDC
dual-clutch six-speed transmission operated via paddles on the steering wheel. The
addition of an auto ‘shifter in a Renaultsport Clio might seem blasphemous, but
it’s Renault’s way of allying the little pocket rocket with the company’s
endeavours in Formula One.
There’s no word on performance just yet: we’ll get that
nearer to our first drive sometime in early 2013.
Underneath, you get the familiar chassis setups: Sport and
Cup. Sport is the ‘everyday’ Clio RS, while the Cup chassis is 15 per cent
stiffer and 5mm lower. The brakes are 8mm bigger than its predecessor - a
whipping 320mm in diameter - and there are three driving settings managing the
engine/gearbox mapping, steering feel and throttle response. You get ‘normal’,
‘sport’ and ‘race’.
Speaking of ‘race’, Renault has fitted F1-style front blades
that recall Renault successes in Formula One (be that attempting to decapitate
Alonso’s head or allowing Vettel to raise his finger in victory), while the new
diffuser and spoiler generate 80 per cent and 20 per cent extra downforce at
the back. There are daytime LED running lights, 17in wheels (18s are an
option), a dual exhaust pipe and lots of RS trinketry inside.
It’s not going to be a dud, but the auto ‘box has got to be
a cuase for concern, hasn’t it tinterweb?