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Friday 28th September 2012

PH blog: in defence of the Clio RS

Words in praise of the new Clio RS have been few and far between - Dan attempts to redress the balance



By heck, the new Clio Renaultsport hasn't exactly gone down a storm has it! Last I looked the PH O'Meter was registering 4.2. Not the kind of score you'd expect to see for the newest version of everyone's favourite hot hatch.

197 Cup got Dan hooked on the Clio habit
197 Cup got Dan hooked on the Clio habit
The reasons for the outcry are easy enough to understand, the burden of expectation dumped on the new Clio RS by the outgoing car suitably formidable and new-school stuff like a turbo engine, five doors, dual-clutch transmission and the rest enough of an upset to really rattle the cages of the more purist fans.

Like me. Six months in a 197 Cup long-termer got me hooked on the Renaultsport way of life, this followed by the satisfaction of a long-held dream and purchase of a 172 Cup of my very own. I recall slavishly reading every word on it when it launched thinking "that sounds EXACTLY my kind of car" and just under a decade later I was proved right. OK, it tried to kill me a few times. But we parted friends.

Actual money spent on the 172 Cup that followed
Actual money spent on the 172 Cup that followed
But I'm not as worried about the new Clio RS as most seem to be, even with that emotional baggage. OK, I'll concede the dual-clutch only transmission does sadden me. But the rest? I'm willing to hold judgement until I've driven it. And I think we all should.

Renault folk are bullish too. I put the frosty reaction to the car to someone there and he shrugged it off with "we had the same reaction to the 182 over the 172, the same for the 197 over the 182, etc, etc."

Thing is, Renaultsport cars have rarely been that impressive on paper. The Clio 2 was, frankly a tad over-engined and hardly sophisticated. The 197 heavy, under-geared and with a very peaky power delivery. The responses to criticisms have always been engineering led and not especially easy to communicate in words alone. You can prattle on about the effect of putting Sachs racing dampers with an on-paper value equivalent to 10 per cent of the car's overall cost as much as you like but until you've driven a 182 Trophy you won't understand. And the way a Cup chassis'd 197 or 200 rewards with GT3-like focus and enthusiasm on track remains utterly unique in the hot-hatch market.

Dan out in the 200 at the 'ring earlier this year
Dan out in the 200 at the 'ring earlier this year
The Megane 265 proves Renaultsport can engineer a turbocharged car that thrills and the bigger picture stuff like fuel economy (rarely into the 30s in my 197) and CO2 meant downsized forced induction was inevitable. I can live with that and the Megane's engine is revvy and feisty enough, which bodes well. The Clio 3's kerb weight, rarely mentioned and yet nearly 200kg more than my old 172 Cup, was an issue too, exacerbating that lack of torque. And the new one should be quite a bit lighter, by how much TBC but, typically, Clio 4 is -100kg over the equivalent Clio 3.

Core values, like properly set-up fixed-rate dampers available in Sport or more focused Cup options, are where Renaultsport really shows its class. And if the Clio handles like a lighter, more nimble Megane 265 you'll hear no complaints from me.

So I'm more optimistic than most. It'll be interesting to see how the 208 compares too. With this and the Fiesta ST on the way it's going to be a cracking year for hot hatches...

Dan

Dan Trent
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Limpet

Original Poster:

990 posts

45 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
As well as emissions, I think the comments on the 197 illustrate just why forced induction is becoming the norm. High revving naturally aspirated engines simply don't have the guts to haul today's lardy cars around without needing to be thrashed to within an inch of their lives. While that might be fun on track or even on the right road, it's a pain in the posterior in every other situation.

A turbo engine gives you torque, which is what you need when dealing with a lot of weight. Think lorries as an extreme example.


sodslaw

189 posts

23 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
It looks even uglier now than I thought it did in the last pics.. vomit

PumpkinSteve

2,455 posts

40 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
I'm more bothered about the goofy aesthetics than the mechanical side tbh...

wab172uk

900 posts

111 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
It's not the engine that's the problem (easier to tune), it's the fact it ONLY comes in 5 doors, and has no manual gearbox.

Krikkit

4,957 posts

65 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
I'm not that bothered about the turbo engine, it's a fact of new cars that they're all going turbo to meet emissions whilst being exciting, but the DCT box and fake noise stereo spoil it.

The fake noise is the icing on the cake really, I can't imagine why someone would think that's a good idea!
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Charlie Michael

2,426 posts

68 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
wab172uk said:
It's not the engine that's the problem (easier to tune), it's the fact it ONLY comes in 5 doors, and has no manual gearbox.
...and the engine note is pumped into the cabin. Why Renault, why?

dandarez

5,574 posts

167 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
'...everyone's favourite hot hatch.' ?

Speak for yourself, and cry oui, oui, oui all the way home! byebye

Captain Muppet

8,034 posts

149 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
PH said:
And the new one should be quite a bit lighter, by how much TBC but, typically, Clio 4 is -100kg over the equivalent Clio 3
Oh. Any reason to say it like that instead of "And the new one should be quite a bit lighter, by how much TBC but, typically, Clio 4 is 100kg under the equivalent Clio 3".

More -confusion is less badder.

jaik

1,890 posts

97 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
I'm sure it will still be a good car objectively, but with the torquey turbo engine and increased practicality of having 5 doors it's character is moving closer to that of the Megane RS, which already does an excellent job. I'd say the Twingo RS is closer to the original Clio RS than this in ethos and "fun factor".

Edit: And pumping fake engine sound into the cabin is idiotic. I can picture a scene with a suited marketing man wearing Louis Walsh's inane, hatred-proof grin telling a group of cringing, frustrated engineers about the plans for this.

Edited by jaik on Friday 28th September 12:36

PumpkinSteve

2,455 posts

40 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
The Polo GTI also has the engine note speaker.

Robb F

4,140 posts

55 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
PumpkinSteve said:
The Polo GTI also has the engine note speaker.
That doesn't make it ok :P

telford_mike

812 posts

69 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
No mention of price anywhere. I assume this will cost £20k?

clarki

295 posts

103 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
I'm looking forward to driving it tbh.

I'm a huge RS fan/owner anyway, so probably a bit biased, but I think it looks good - 5 doors suits me.

Not a fan of N/A engines particularly anyway - thrashing an engine everywhere to make progress seems a bit childish to me these days, things have moved on.

The gearbox interests me too - my misses has a boxster S with the PDK box. Brilliant. Again, things have moved on. I understand this is Renault's first attempt at such a 'box, so it might not be, just have to wait and see.

Anyway, these days, Pistonheads' threads often tend to berate as the default setting so i'm not sure Renault Customer Services will be panicking just yet!!

Different league I know, but when out in my cousin's GTR it never really crosses my mind - what this thing really needs is a manual gearbox and the turbos removed??!!

sodslaw

189 posts

23 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Captain Muppet said:
PH said:
And the new one should be quite a bit lighter, by how much TBC but, typically, Clio 4 is -100kg over the equivalent Clio 3
Oh. Any reason to say it like that instead of "And the new one should be quite a bit lighter, by how much TBC but, typically, Clio 4 is 100kg under the equivalent Clio 3".

More -confusion is less badder.
I didn't really get this in the article..

So what number clio is this?



-2?

folos

770 posts

26 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Its just so ugly, the standard clio 3 wasnt great but here is my old yellow 197 as a comparison: http://imgur.com/9Te9g.jpg




Edited by folos on Friday 28th September 12:57

stuckmojo

1,000 posts

72 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Christ, what have they done? I think the 197 was the prettiest, the 200 probably better to drive but didn't like the looks.

I don't think the Turbo engine is too big an issue (remember the R5GTT), it's everything else that's the problem.

It's bloody horrible to begin with.

Why would anyone buy this over a cooper S?

ucb

309 posts

96 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Dunno what the problem is.
I saw the concept and thought it would tick all the boxes of a DD for me, with added fun for those days when I feel like it.
The 200 may be fantastic, but with engine figures like my old CTR, it looks like you have to cane it everywhere to get performance, which gets tiring and annoying.

jaik

1,890 posts

97 months

[news] 
Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
sodslaw said:
Captain Muppet said:
PH said:
And the new one should be quite a bit lighter, by how much TBC but, typically, Clio 4 is -100kg over the equivalent Clio 3
Oh. Any reason to say it like that instead of "And the new one should be quite a bit lighter, by how much TBC but, typically, Clio 4 is 100kg under the equivalent Clio 3".

More -confusion is less badder.
I didn't really get this in the article..

So what number clio is this?



-2?
That's a Clio 1. The 172 and 182 were Clio 2. 197 and 200 are Clio 3.

beefcake42

265 posts

85 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
Sadly for Renault many will not hear the defence of it's value, based on excellent driving dynamics, over the sounds of screams made by all who see it.

It is a horrific carbuncle on the face of Renault Sport. Have it removed or at least pay somone to paint it in stealth matt black so it's grimacing wombat face goes un-noticed.

2/10 - must try harder.

MrTappets

802 posts

75 months

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Friday 28th September 2012 quote quote all
I don't understand why each car in a range has to get heavier and bigger over time. It's not at though cars as big as those of two decades ago no longer exist. Take VW: the Up is very roughly the same size and weight as a Mk1 Golf, yet the new Golf is a behemoth in comparison. You can't say crash regs have forced it because the Up still passes regs. I know that with safety kit the interior will be proportionally smaller, but I'm sure you see my point.

In fact the Mk5 Golf R32 is wider, heavier, taller and as fast as an E28 M5, which makes you wonder whether in 20 years time the average hot hatch will weigh two tonnes and have 550bhp.
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