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Want an old school hot hatch? Get this Sandero RS

Dacia Sandero gets the Renault Sport treatment. An antidote to AWD mega hatches?

Are you a purist, nonplussed by the hot hatchback’s transformation into a 300bhp-plus, all-wheel-drive mad thing? Renault has the answer. This is the Sandero RS, and it’s as pure as hot hatches get nowadays.

You’ll recognise the Sandero badge from budget Dacias. In other markets it’s sold as a Renault, which is the biggest clue that this is a Latin American car only, with no UK sales.

Which is a crying shame. It weighs about a tonne, gets its 143bhp from a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine – once all the Suzuki Swift Sports have sold out, there will be no non-turbo hot hatches available new in the UK, don’t forget – and possesses a six-speed manual gearbox. Something Renault’s own Clio RS doesn’t currently offer.

We’ve seen the Sandero RS before, but the car here is a special edition. Namely, the Racing Spirit edition. It’s not just some questionable stripes, either – there are some Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres wrapped around those Clio wheels. So it should grip properly on track.

Not that its performance really requires such serious rubber. A 124mph top speed and 8.5sec 0-62mph time are some way off the hot hatch best now.

But that’s sort of the appeal here; wring as much performance out of a Focus RS as you dare, and both jail time and YouTube infamy are very real possibilities. Do so in this, and you’ll barely be at risk of an SP30 speeding offence. Which is how hot hatches used to be…

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