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Renault Clio Renaultsport F1 Team R27 Car Review | May 15, 2007

Driven May 2007

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The only thing slow and uncool about the Clio Renaultsport F1 Team R27 is the convoluted name you've just taken four seconds to read.

But beneath that mire of corporateness is a limited edition Clio concealing something very cool indeed: the new Cup chassis.

Yes, the R27 (See? Instantly cooler) gets Renault's obligatory set of racing decals (last seen being swiftly deleted from the Megane R26), bright-red brake calipers, unique graphite alloys and superb Recaro buckets. Oh, and that day-glo yellow paint job.

Otherwise, it's just a well-specced Clio 197: same manic-revving, naturally aspirated engine, same six-speed 'box, same dead-cool rear diffuser.

But the new chassis is the news here. The Cup suspension will soon be available on all Clio 197s, with 27 per cent stiffer springs at the front and 30 per cent stiffer at the rear, and with the ride height dropped by 7mm.

The result? A car that sits more purposefully on the road, and an object study in diplomacy from the Renaultsport boys. The R27 is sharp enough to silence the critics who say the 197's gone soft since the 182, but it still retains the new car's refinement, space and joie de vivre.

It's possible to induce back-end looseness, but you have to push the R27 still further to find it. Before you get to that limit, the car feels even more planted and less prone to body roll than the standard 197 - quite an achievement. The stability and traction control system borders on genius.

It lets you hang the rear end out before catching things neatly for you, and the traction control keeps the power flowing through the front wheels without brutal interruption. There's enough travel in the suspension to deal with lumpy tarmac, too.

A couple of the minor gripes aimed at the 197 do persist though. Despite the lower-slung Recaros, the driving position is still verging on lofty. The steering remains a touch light and uncommunicative, while the gearchange would benefit from being a fraction tighter.

But these are petty niggles. The R27's chassis makes the finest hot supermini even better, and only 500 will be brought into the UK, so the exclusivity will be worth the extra £1,500 for some. Others will prefer to wait until November, when the hardcore, £15k, stripped-out 197 arrives. That one has a short, simple and very cool name. Cup.

Sam Philip

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