PH CARPOOL: CLIO RENAULTSPORT 200 GORDINI
The return of Gordini revived happy memories for this week's carpooler - happy enough to revisit the name
Car: Clio Renaultsport 200 Gordini
Owned since: July 2010
Previously owned: Mini Clubman S JCW
My first car, when I was 17, was a Dauphine and in my 20s I was fortunate enough to own, for a short period, an Renault 8 Gordini. Naturally as this was the late 60s, early 70s and the heyday of DIY tuning (in my opinion) I also had my fair selection of Minis and Cortinas.
Based on the nostalgic reasoning that 'every day was a sunny day' in my youth, I had been driving the new Minis since their release in 2001 - latterly a JCW Clubman S.
At about the same time as I was considering a change, the announcement that the Gordini name was to be revived caught my eye, so armed with the 'rose-coloured spectacles' of my early Renault experience I decided this would probably be the right car for me.
What I wish I'd known:
In this internet age researching a car is pretty straightforward, but my main inspiration was as a result of lurking on a couple of news groups. Of course there were some negatives and niggles, but overall I noted a genuine enthusiasm for the marque.
I spoke with a few dealers, all of whom had good product knowledge, and a couple of test drives later I knew I had made the right decision - this car did indeed live up to its reputation.
My initial thoughts were for Racing Blue with Recaros and the Renaultsport Monitor, but the lure of the Gordini association eventually won through and came with the added bonus of immediate delivery as opposed to the normal three-month wait.
The styling for me is an absolute eye-catcher and I have, on occasion, found myself opening the garage just to have a look.
Driving it never fails to put a smile on my face and I have in many a service area found myself in conversation with total strangers about the car and, for people over 50, the fact that it bears the Gordini name.
Around town, or on the motorway, the car provides a comfortable mode of transport but once on the track it morphs into a machine that looks, sounds and behaves like a car with a racing pedigree and heritage.
Things I hate:
Hate is much too strong a word but niggles? Yes, a few.
The rear brakes that bind if the car is parked when there is the merest hint of moisture in the air. The hassle of removing the front brake pad securing pins undamaged, as replacements are £30 per wheel.
The radio resetting itself to a level below which my aged ears require whenever it is switched off.
Road tax at £245 was a bit of an eye-opener and mpg is not great by today's standards but keeping the engine at or below 4,000rpm returns 30mpg on average.
Being an experienced older driver (read: 'more sensible') and living 'out in the sticks' means that insurance costs well under £300.
I would qualify this by saying that economy was not a major consideration when I purchased the car, so running costs for me are acceptable.
I do have four Renault dealerships within 25 miles of my home but, as an RS specialist, I have used Gravells in Kidwelly although, with the car approaching two years old and 18,000 miles, so far I have only needed a first service and a change of brake pads (now Ferodo DS2500).
Where I've been:
A visit to the Alpine factory in Dieppe to see Renaultsport Clios being assembled, without a robot in sight, provided a fascinating and entertaining experience, plus Renault track days at Silverstone and Brands during 2011.
I've got the same planned for 2012 at Silverstone, Oulton and Brands but the outstanding event was at Spa Francorchamps, which managed to combine a trip, a track day and an experience into an unforgettable occasion.
No plans at the moment but the demise of the 2.0-litre normally aspirated Clio in September is a bit of a disappointment.
The replacement is strongly rumoured to be a five-door 1.6-litre turbo which, if I compare the current Clio with my Mini experience, does not excite me.
That said, if Renault uses the same 'magic wand' on the new car then I may well be tempted as I would now very much like to stay with the brand.
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