It doesn’t feel like such a long time ago, but the last time we drove Renault’s pocket-rocket was almost two years ago. Back then, we determined that it was a great car to punt around in, but lacked sorely in the aesthetics department, both inside and out. The good news then is that Renault’s new pocket rocket looks absolutely fantastic!
Although previous generations of the Clio RS were powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine, the new car has been bestowed with a 1.6-litre turbo which makes some 200hp/6,000rpm and 240Nm/1,750 – 5,600rpm. These figures are in fact slightly better than its predecessor. Gone also is the choice of a manual box; instead, you get Renault’s Efficient Dual Clutch (hence the EDC in its namesake) six-speed, dry-clutch gearbox. Only the Sport chassis is available for now, not the more extreme Cup or Trophy versions. There are rumours that the latter might be available at a later date, so I guess we will find out in due time.
Unfortunately, power delivery in the Clio RS seemed a little lacking. On paper, the new car pips its predecessor in the Zerotohundred sprint by just 0.2 secs, but for some reason, just doesn’t feel as rapid. But not all is lost – there’s an RS Drive button which sits just below the gear-knob which enables Sport and Race modes. Whilst this noticeably improves throttle response, the flappy pedals do somewhat reduce driver engagement. It’s a pity there is no manual option, but the new Clio RS is set to target a wider audience. We’ve already seen several customer cars on the road, so like it or not, this new formula is clearly working.
Because the new car doesn’t have the lower, stiffer Cup chassis, ride quality is actually very supple, grown-up affair. So pedestrian in fact, that we feel has lost some of its RS quality we were looking forward to. Not that this is a downright bad thing – the new car is mostly very well composed, whether over surface imperfections, or when driven rapid through bends. Steering feel is a little number than before, and brakes need a bit of pedal travel before they bite, but drive harder and you begin to notice the car’s agility and grip and with Renault’s awesome electronic front differential working overtime to brake the inner wheel, allowing for quick exits out of corners.
On the inside, it is clear that Renault has spent some effort with designing a more premium interior. There is now a large 7-inch touchscreen monitor that comes standard with Bluetooth, USB and SD card capabilities as well as integrated TomTom navigation. You get the usual splashes of RS flair and accenting too – on the steering wheel, A/C vents, gear-knob, seatbelts. Button layout is now more intuitive across the dashboard, and is a mix of soft-touch and high-gloss plastics. Glossy plastic looks good, but are serious fingerprint and dust magnets – not so great for the OCD-type.
The Clio’s party piece is undoubtedly the R-Sound Effect – an app which offers a choice of seven engine notes through the car’s speakers. We naturally went for the Nissan GTR’s soundtrack with volume on full blast, but couldn’t take the drone and eventually opted for the V6 Clio at a reduced volume. It’s a cool app to have, but the novelty wears off after some time and ends up looking very gimmicky. It’s one saving grace is the raspy exhaust that spits, pops and burbles under heavy throttle inputs. With a lively sound like that, we’re not sure why there was any need for the R-Sound Effect.
Priced at ~RM170k (OTR without insurance), the new Clio RS200 EDC is some RM30k cheaper than its predecessor. Yes, it has an extra 2-doors and makes do without the sharper Cup chassis that we like, but like we’ve mentioned before, the new Clio RS is more practical and now appeals to a wider range of clientele – especially those who’re in the market for a fun hatch without any major compromises. It won’t be the best pocket rocket out in the market today, but serves as a good alternative to the regular VW and Pug offerings.
Renault Clio RS200 EDC
Engine 1.6 litre / 4-cylinder turbo
Power 200hp / 6,000 rpm
Torque 240Nm / 1,750 – 5,600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed dual-clutch (EDC)
Zerotohundred 6.7 seconds
Top speed 230km/h