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Thursday 4th October 2012

New Clio: Renaultsport talks back!

What's with the new Renaultsport Clio? Maybe a chat with the project leader can calm our fears...



The new Renaultsport Clio looks good. Sitting immediately adjacent to French arch rivals Peugeot in the show hall at Paris, it trumps the 208 GTI for visual drama. But looks are only really a frippery. The vital thing about any Renault product emerging from the gates of Dieppe is that it goes like the clappers and fixes a lasting grin across your chops.

New Clio looks the part on the show floor
New Clio looks the part on the show floor
Will the apparently controversial new Clio RS deliver? It's too early to get a drive, but there's a man standing next to me who can give us a clue. His name is Arnaud Barton, and he's the Product Manager for Clio Renaultsport. If only his manager wasn't standing right next to him...

While it's not all bad news about the new car, there is plenty to ponder. Starting with the fact Barton is keen to point out that the new RS Clio has been deliberately designed to appeal to a wider audience.

"One of the key goals for the new car was to get back to the core market, to make the car more versatile - more so than the current RS model," he says. "The main reason to abandon the 2.0 engine was to give more torque at earlier rpms."

Doesn't sound great so far. But Barton is adamant. "[The new 1.6 turbo] should make it more fun to drive than the current car, with better performance. The responses we received from our customer surveys said that the majority wanted to go with a turbocharged engine."

Up the creek with two flappy paddles...
Up the creek with two flappy paddles...
Interesting news given the reception the RS has had so far from PHers. It's a similar story with the switch to a dual-clutch paddleshift gearbox but, according to Barton, it's more involving too.

While emissions are obviously lurking behind the change - efficiency was a major factor in the new RS Clio's development - Barton offers a plus side. "We can tell you the gearbox shifts in 150ms in Race mode," he boasts. That's faster than the DSG in the Scirocco, he points out with a grin. But whoever said VW's flappy-paddle coupe was the last word in entertainment?

Together the engine and 'box "give better performance, more drivability and improved emissions" reckons Barton. He's reluctant to divulge any specifics, though his superior does eventually give the nod to "upwards of a 10 per cent improvement in CO2 emissions over the current normally aspirated car." (190g/km for the record)

Barton also highlights how "the car is very nearly the same weight as the current RS Clio despite being a five-door". Sounds like he thinks we should be impressed. Shame we were actually hoping for a weight reduction - especially since the regular Clio is claiming savings of up to 100kg compared to its predecessor.

Weight savings over current car minimal
Weight savings over current car minimal
Even with the extra doors "the chassis characteristics will be very similar," Barton assures, "although it'll be more comfortable." The new car is also slightly wider and slightly lower than before. Crucially, the hottest Clio will still have fixed rate dampers, and offer the traditional standard and Cup specification set-ups.

No electronic tweakery for the suspension does at least suggest someone was prepared to make a firm statement about how the Clio Renaultsport should behave. That doesn't mean there isn't any electronic intervention at all, however. Swapping between Race, Normal and Sport modes will alter the steering weight as well as the shift speed, for one thing.

More alarmingly "the engine sound will be enhanced electronically," Barton confirms, to the dismay of many PHers. "It can't replace the real note," apparently, rather "it will be enhanced according to throttle position." Hmmm.

More grown up inside and out; do we want that?
More grown up inside and out; do we want that?
According to Renault, then, we should be lauding the fact that the raucous 2.0-litre rev monster has been junked in favour of a more driveable, more torquey and more powerful turbocharged 1.6, while the new gearbox makes it easier to exploit. But wasn't the whole appeal of the old car the commitment it required to drive fast?

Still, we can't remember the last time Renaultsport actually let us down - so until the worst actually happens we'll live in hope and trust the proof is in the driving.

 

 

Sean Carson
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TACottle

Original Poster:

155 posts

40 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
It looks minging though.

The headlights, and Renault badge at the front look far to big for its tiny body... Both grilles are pretty wrank too.

http://www.performance-car-guide.co.uk/images/L-Re... The 197 was much better looking.

Edited by TACottle on Thursday 4th October 12:33

WCZ

2,357 posts

81 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
"he responses we received from our customer surveys said that the majority wanted to go with a turbocharged engine.""

really?

also it looks gash

"barton" hasn't said anything reassuring.

kambites

41,291 posts

108 months

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Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
So it's going to be a turbocharged automatic... no thanks.

domlebo70

22 posts

47 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
Oh dear RenaultSport. Is it only Porsche left now?

Penneth

120 posts

68 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
Interestingly, RUK bods over on Renaultsport confirmed that the electronically enhanced engine sound is just an application on the R-Link system and it can be turned off completely.

Perhaps something was lost in translation somewhere and what he meant was that the engine sound has been enhanced, exactly in the same way it is in the Megane 265 and new Focus ST which is NOT done through the speakers!
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davidcharles

340 posts

81 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
i feel we will get the same type of car and same type of answers when the new civic type r appears...which will be another shame...

MagicalTrevor

5,423 posts

116 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
WCZ said:
"he responses we received from our customer surveys said that the majority wanted to go with a turbocharged engine.""

really?
...
I wonder what the customer survey actually said. Did it say 'Would you rather have a 2l NA engine or 1.6l Turbo engine with the same power' or did it say something like 'Would you like a Turbo on RS Clio?'. Somebody reading the last question may think '2l Turbo engine in my Clio? Yes please'


Mastodon2

9,545 posts

52 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
When he says they surveyed people, who said they wanted the turbo engine, who did they survey? Not owners of older Clios I bet. I bet the "people" surveyed were probably staff from the department tasked with getting the emission level down!

FraserLFA

4,972 posts

61 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
domlebo70 said:
Oh dear RenaultSport. Is it only Porsche left now?
Who do manual gearboxes?

Ford, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Lamborghini, Nissan still do 'em in some cars.

I'd always prefer a manual, but there are a still some manufacturers who make them.


Silverbullet767

8,699 posts

93 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
My eyes!!

vomit

The front looks like it's melting.

R.I.P decent Clios

Paul M

367 posts

91 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
It looks a bit bloated from the pictures but then again difficult to tell in isolation.

A couple of things concern me, that it has been "deliberately designed to appeal to a wider audience" and "the engine sound will be enhanced electronically," Compromise? I hope not. I owned an RS 182 and it was a riot. Although it was flawed in part it didn't detract from the overall fun and entertainment that the car was all about.

C.A.R.

2,029 posts

75 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
"Paddle-shift more involving than a manual"

How?

You can't just say white is black without explaining yourself...

chris.wbaldwin

14 posts

109 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
TACottle said:
It looks minging though.

The headlights, and Renault badge at the front look far to big for its tiny body... Both grilles are pretty wrank too.

http://www.performance-car-guide.co.uk/images/L-Re... The 197 was much better looking.

Edited by TACottle on Thursday 4th October 12:33
Totally agree!! But then i would!!

j_s14a

484 posts

65 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
C.A.R. said:
"Paddle-shift more involving than a manual"

How?

You can't just say white is black without explaining yourself...
+1

Has this 'Barton' chap actually driven a car before? Does he realise there is no clutch pedal to depress?

I'm sure they'll bring out a cup version with a manual box. Citroen C2 sports models didn't sell well until the retroactively fitted a manual gearbox.

don logan

1,420 posts

109 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
The whole concept seems to have been conceived by people who can`t drive and who aren`t interested in driving!

Regiment

2,187 posts

46 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
I shudder to think what the next RS Megane will look like and drive like. But surely, if Renault Sport had surveyed loyal Renault Sport customers, they'd have at least roughly the same opinion on the new/next Clio as the loyal Renault Sport customers on Piston Heads would i.e. Automatic, fake noises, 5 door and smaller turbo engine bad, and manual, real engine notes, 3 door and big N/A engine good.

Would the Piston Heads person that sat down with Barton actually tell them that their survey disagrees with the Piston Heads survey?

G0ldfysh

3,088 posts

144 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
Reserving judgement until walking away from hot car that I have been testing round local lanes.


Guvernator

3,495 posts

52 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
"The Renaultsport Clio looks good", eerr sorry but that has to be one the funniest opening lines ever written for an article on PH. The new Clio RS is a very generic looking 5 door (why only 5 door??) hatchback with a front that looks like it's made of melted cheese. Look good it certainly does not.

As for the rest of the interview, only the cars maker could try to justify the new RS with such blatant codswollop.

"One of the key goals for the new car was to get back to the core market, to make the car more versatile" Surely those two goals are entirely contradictory. The key market for the RS is not a watered down hot hatch which tries to appeal to everyman, there are plenty of other hatchbacks which fill that space including the standard Clio, surely an RS should be more about handling, excitement and a more hardcore experience to your run of mill hatches.

I could almost forgive them for the move to a turbo engine (almost) but an automatic gearboxed 5 door hatch designed to appeal to "a wider target audience" means only one thing to me, that the Clio RS, one of the last bastions of proper hot hatchery has sold it's soul.

famfarrow

232 posts

41 months

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Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
Oh dear Renault...

900T-R

19,498 posts

144 months

[news] 
Thursday 4th October 2012 quote quote all
j_s14a said:
I'm sure they'll bring out a cup version with a manual box. Citroen C2 sports models didn't sell well until the retroactively fitted a manual gearbox.
In fairness, those had the absolutely gash single clutch 2Tronic 'box (nodding dog ahoy') - now a little less infuriatingly included in PSAs 'eco' diesels.
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