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Thursday 27th September 2012


PARIS 2012: ALL NEW CLIO RENAULTSPORT

It'll be steak hache all round for lunch, given all the sacred cows Renaultsport has slaughtered


So, what are the things we love most about the outgoing Renaultsport Clio? That wedgy three-door body - wider than the standard Clio to the extent it doesn't fit down the standard production line, and has to be built in the old-school Alpine factory in Dieppe? That classic, high-revving, naturally aspirated power delivery and soundtrack - rare in this all-turbo age? The crisp, short-throw manual gearbox that rewards those willing to put the effort in and really drive the Clio like they stole it?

Or is it just the pervading sense that there's nothing false, contrived or out to flatter your ego here? The Clio 200 is raw and pure: what you get out of it is what you put in. Been there, done that. The hooning bit, not the TWOCking, we mean.

OK, so it doesn't look like a five-door
OK, so it doesn't look like a five-door
And now we have a new one. It's five-door or nothing. Turbocharged. Dual-clutch auto only. And - uh-oh - it simulates an exciting engine note through its speakers.

Plus it's launching at the same show as the 208 GTI, Peugeot's first concerted attempt to live up to the considerable reputation of its defining hot hatch, the 205 GTI.

Some work for the PR department, then. We'll be talking exclusively with Renaultsport to get the inside line on exactly how the new Clio 200 can hope to live up to, and exceed, the considerable talents of the outgoing car. Watch this space.

In the meantime, some numbers. The 1.6-litre turbo - which shares family genes with the comparable Nissan motor used by cars like the Juke 1.6 DIG-T and, er, Deltawing - gets a bit of Renaultsport fairy dust and now puts out 200hp. The significant character shift is the turbo-enhanced torque delivery, dumping the peak 177lb ft in your lap at 1,750rpm rather than the 5,400rpm the current 200 demands for its weedier 158lb ft. Which, coincidentally, is just 200rpm away from where the new car's torque curve starts tailing off.

That, along with the paddle-shifter operated EDC twin-clutch (six gears, three modes), is going to make for a very different character. Likewise the fact that the purity of the outgoing car is replaced by gadgets like the R-Sound Effect that - brace yourself - "simulates the noise of one of a range of iconic engines through the car's speakers." This is, claims Renault, a "fun and realistic" way of tuning the engine noise. Shall we mention the PH response to the M5's similar function now, or later? Gulp...

Red bits less worrying than shifter paddles
Red bits less worrying than shifter paddles
Chassis set-up is, of course, one area where Renaultsport really shows its class. Thankfully, it's avoided the temptation to go for a fangled multi-setting damping set-up, and has instead stuck with the previous system of fixed-rate Sport and Cup chassis options, the latter being 15 per cent stiffer and five per cent lower.

We'll await our Renaultsport man's comments with interest. In the meantime Renault UK has confirmed that pricing will be announced in February, with sales beginning early Summer.

Author: Dan Trent
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