- Available for £8,000
- 1.6 inline petrol turbo, front wheel drive
- Six-second 0-62 times, fun handling
- Suffers unfair comparisons with earlier RSs
- Auto gearbox criticised at launch
- Five-door practicality
- No major reliability issues
It must have been a tough day for the more hardcore members of staff at Renault Sport when they realised that the 2013 replacement for the much loved gen-two and gen-three RS Clios was going to be an entirely different sort of car.
Emissions regs meant there would be no more place for the naturally aspirated, manually gearboxed 2.0 litre hatches that had provided such revtastic enjoyment for so many people. The new car would achieve the same 200hp output as the old RS 2.0, which was a bit odd when new cars (especially in the sporting arena) tended to be more powerful than the ones they replaced, and it would have to do so with a smaller, albeit lighter and more efficient, turbocharged 1.6 DIG-T Nissan engine
The turbo motor produced 197hp at 6,000rpm compared to 7,250rpm in the old NA 2.0. Its 177 lb ft maximum torque was only 18lb ft more than the old 2.0 but it began at just 1,750rpm and ran right through to 5,500rpm, which was certainly praiseworthy in its own right even if it took the car quite a long way away from its established character. More controversially, the fourth-gen RS Clio – or to give it what we hope might be its definitive official name, the Renault Sport Clio 200 EDC – would have no manual gearbox. Instead there would be a Getrag-sourced but RS-developed 6-speed Efficient Double Clutch (EDC) transmission.
Almost as controversially, the 200 EDC would only be sold as a five-door, a bodystyle which up to that point hadn't been available even as an option on RS Clios. This, along with a much more equipment-heavy spec, was the biggest unspoken admission that RS Clios were being repositioned into a more sober and dare we say more family-oriented corner of the marketplace. You still got the famed RS Drive button, though. Pressing this took you from Normal to Sport and Race modes, altering the mapping of the gearbox, the behaviour of the ESP, the sensitivity of the power steering and the accelerator pedal, and the sound of the exhaust.
In 2016 Renault released a phase two version with 40 percent more lighting power from a restyled front end featuring the snazzy three-piece LED driving lights from the RS 16 concept. More importantly (if you thought that addressing the power issue was important, anyway) a new 220 Trophy version lifted power and torque to 217hp and 207lb ft and came with a lowered and stiffened chassis.
A run of RS18 models was released in 2018. Its bodywork was deep black with a front blade and side skirts in Liquid Yellow to mimic the Renault F1 car's livery. It cost £24,295, or £1,300 more than the 2018 price of a 220 Trophy. That made it good value because the RS18 came with lots of Alcantara on the inside and an Akrapovic exhaust on the outside. Buying an Akra pipe for one of these now would cost you around £1,350 inc VAT. A Milltek cat-back system for the 200 would be about £600 inc VAT. Here's an RS 18 doing launch control type stuff.
According to the internet, gen-four Clio EDCs were on sale until the end of the first quarter of 2020, but in light of the total absence of post-2018 examples for sale this is open to debate. You may know the truth. 200s run from as little as £8,000 for high-milers to around £15,000 for later cars with 20,000 miles on the clock. Low mileage 220 Trophies range from £15,500 to £17,000.
Where's the best value in one of these? What sort of ownership experience might you expect to have with an £8k EDC fitted with a rorty pipe? You may be pleasantly surprised.
SPECIFICATION | RENAULT SPORT CLIO 200/220 EDC
Engine: 1,618cc inline four 16v turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 197@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 177@1,750-5,500rpm
0-62mph: 6.7 secs
Top speed: 143mph
MPG (official combined): 44.8
CO2: 144g/km (135 for Trophy 220)
Wheels: 7.5 x 17in
Tyres: 205/45 (205/40 on 18in Trophy wheels)
On sale: 2013 - 2019
Price new: £18,895 (220 Trophy £22,425)
Price now: from £8,000
Note for reference: car weight and power data is hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
In overtly sporting cars like the Renault Sport Clio the relationship between power, weight and fuel efficiency is critical. In the case of the 200 EDC there was a niggling feeling that not quite enough attention had been paid to the power side of that relationship. That was borne out by unfavourable in-gear comparisons with rivals like the Fiesta ST, and the fact that the EDC was only 0.2sec faster through the 0-62 (and only marginally quicker at the top end) than the old gen-three 2.0 Clio 200. The assumption was that the weight increases that were pretty much par for the course for every new model iteration had killed the EDC’s edge.
Wrong. Despite being bigger and better equipped than those old legends, and despite having a chunky DCT transmission to cart around, the gen-four EDC was no heavier than its RS forebears. It worked well too. The 1,500rpm start of its torque peak meant that the EDC would always haul you hard out of tight corners without first insisting on you having selected the right gear and the right rpms. There was a good launch control system too so it was easy to convert power and torque into consisten six-second 0-62 times.
Pressing the RS Drive button to select Sport or Race modes would liven things up on the road, but for those who felt that more actual power was a must, a solution came along in 2016 in the shape of the 220 Trophy. Despite its extra 20 or so horsepower there was actually very little difference between the 220 and the 200 on the performance figures – a tenth on the 0-62 and a couple more mph – but combining the Trophy’s power boost with a suspension lowering and a 40 percent stiffening of the rear torsion bar did give it a noticeable extra whizz factor.
The 200 EDC’s official average fuel consumption figure of nearly 45mpg was nicely on point, even if it was hard in the real world to get much better than the high 30s even when you were driving like Miss Daisy, with mid-20s nearer the mark on a busy commute. More efficient fuelling boosted the 220’s official consumption to nearly 48mpg, with the same caveats just mentioned.
The 220 had an Akrapovic exhaust option at £900, a relative bargain compared to what they charge for their systems these days. The Akra pipe is worth having on a used RS though. It stays in the background when you're not in the mood and serenades you with an enjoyable racket when you are.
In previous sporty Clios, cracking through the cogs was a separate source of fun. The EDC's much closer integration of turbocharged engine and dual-clutch automatic ’box created a quite different driving character, to the extent that serial Renault Sport Clio owners stepping into an EDC for the first time might have been scratching their heads. If they'd had a spare hand to do that with, anyway. The absence of a conventional manual gearbox meant that they needed both hands for the column-fixed metal paddle shifters. Alternatively they could use the central stick that looked more like a manual shifter than some manual shifters. In its favour, that EDC stick operated ‘the right way round’, in other words forward to change down (with an auto throttle blip) and backwards for up. Once you’d got beyond scowling at it as an annoying reminder of what you could have won (c. Bullseye) if only Renault had offered a manual box, working it soon became second nature.
If the gen-four is your first RS Clio you won't mind it a bit, but for many RS enthusiasts the memory of the human engagement offered by the old manuals was always going to be a difficult one to shake off. To some, the dry-clutch DCT's first three ratios felt short while the higher ones felt long and the whole package could seem like a slight mismatch for the engine’s torque delivery. There was no facility to hold on to gears either but in real-world driving you could potter around jolly quickly even in full auto mode, just like someone in ein sportlich Golf might.
Which neatly brings us to the commonly expressed view that the 200 drivetrain came down too hard on the side of efficiency than excitement, and that the difference between the EDC and its antecedents was like the difference between a normal bar of milk chocolate and one with popping candy in it. Thing is, both were entirely pleasurable in their own ways. Those who had experienced the candy choc of past models might occasionally miss that sparkly sensation when sampling the regular Dairy Milk EDC. There again, popping choc isn’t necessarily what you want when you’re rushing out of the house in the morning without having had time for your breakfast.
One bonus of the EDC’s modern-day sophistication were servicing costs that were very reasonable at around £100 for a minor at a specialist. Inside the main dealer network your costs would be somewhat less reasonable. Servicing frequency is 12,500 miles or 24 months, good news for low-mileage owners.
There isn’t much anecdotal evidence to suggest any generic weaknesses in the Nissan engine, but coils have been known to go. Some phase one cars were thought to be a bit light on the advertised horsepower and their EDC gearboxes did sometimes have problems getting into the right gear, or any gear, when coasting into roundabouts at lower speeds. Recalibrating software patches sorted most of these issues. Climbing gearbox temperatures could put the car into limp mode, but unless you spent all your time on the track this type of thing was more likely to be found in hotter climates.
There’s nothing too radical about the MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension design. The reason why this is a popular mix becomes clear as soon as you take an EDC out onto the road: it works. The Clio was rated for its compliant ride and its ability to cover ground quickly and enjoyably.
The £650 Cup option was 3mm lower than standard, with 15 percent stiffer springs and a faster steering rack, but the really big difference with the EDC compared to earlier RSs was in the suppleness of its ride, which leapfrogged not only those earlier models but also (arguably) the Fiesta ST that was its bitterest rival. The Renault’s steering needed 2.6 turns to go from lock to lock and felt light in normal mode but there was very little body deflection on bumps, decent turn-in on corners and a much better flow along unevenly surfaced or heavily cambered roads.
The stability control and traction control systems were separately switchable across a range of interruption from some to none. They worked independently of the electronic RS Diff, which if you were pedantic was a slight misnomer for a system that initially put braking force into a spinning wheel, the (good) idea being not to reduce the power. The differential then played its part by diverting more effort into the non-spinning wheel.
The main handling downside for some EDC testers was that the Clio’s new-found neutrality and composure appeared to come at the price of ultimate feel and adjustability, with less of the fingertip response of the old days, but the new car gave you the chance to fiddle about with the car's responses via the three-mode RS Drive system. Sport mode weighted up the steering, made the accelerator more dynamic, reduced gearshift time, loudened the exhaust and made the ESP more tolerant. Race mode was only available with the gearbox in manual mode. It disabled all driver aids (ESP, ASR, RS. Diff) bar ABS, which was manually settable, shortening gearshift times even more and adding more aggression to the throttle, steering and exhaust. Once you’d grown accustomed to the EDC box you could be hurling the thing around like you would a cat in a room-measuring contest, just like the old days.
17-inch wheels were standard on the non-Cup 200. The 18-inch options were standard on the 220 Trophy, whose quicker steering rack and smooth-roads handling on Michelin Pilot SuperSport tyres added up to a big step forward over a straight 200. Tyres aren’t cheap for either size of wheel. 18-inch Michelins (or equivalent premium brand) will be around £150 each fitted, with Michelin 17s about £120 though 17-inch versions of the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2s that were recommended fitment for the 18-inch Cup chassis wheels can be had for under £110.
Some RS front brake hoses were incorrectly fitted, prompting a recall. The 220's suspension was 20mm lower and harder than the 200’s, but not deal-breakingly so. Still, if your motoring needs were more town- than track-based and you had back pain issues the 200's softer ride might make it a wiser choice.
Obviously this type of vehicle does get used for track days and similarly devilish events, so give any car you’re considering buying a good lookover for biffs and bumps. Alloys are easily scraped against kerbs on either track or road.
One complaint you could level at the EDC RS Clios and that couldn't be aimed at the older RSs was a shortage of visual differentiation between them and regular, more boring Clios. Do a lazy look-up on gen-four ‘RS Clios for sale’ and you’ll have to wade through a load of ‘RS’ Clios that aren’t RSs at all. They’re ordinary Clios, some of them very ordinary indeed (84hp, hmm), the once sacrosanct RS letters having been rather cynically incorporated into their model names for sales purposes.
One nice bonus of all new gen-four Clios was better cabin space. Legroom for all passengers was only as generous as that class of car allowed but it was noticeably improved over the previous model and the boot held 300 litres of assorted nonsense. Folding the back seats down took that up to nearly 1,150 litres and there are plenty of places to stash bottles.
There was one solid colour for the pre-facelift cars, which was Glacier White, with four metallics: Mercury Silver, Deep Black, Flame Red and the popular Liquid Yellow. Ticking that box added £1,300 to the price of a 220 Trophy.
Was the IV's cabin better than the gen-three's? It depended on your definition of 'better'. It was certainly more showy and had a lot more tech on display – 7.0-inch touchscreen MediaNav infotainment system with satnav, digital radio, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and keyless start – although the interface wasn't class-leading and the column-mounted audio operation stick seemed like a pointless gimmick to some.
The optional RS Monitor v2 telemetry system was an interesting novelty. It displayed, monitored and in some cases logged for downloading all sorts of stuff including torque and power curves, g-force, lap times (with graphics for a range of real tracks), data on temperature, traction slip and even an exploded rendition of your EDC transmission. Hopefully not literally. You could also use this toy to change the 'engine noise' (the synthesised sort coming through the speakers) to make it sound like other vehicles, eg a 1969 Gordini 8 or Alpine A110, a Nissan GT-R, a 2003 Clio V6 or even some obscure motorbike. Another option was TomTom Live services and a subscription to Renault’s R-Link connectivity services. Bluetooth could sometimes drop out, no doubt prompting demands for a subs refund from stingier owners.
The interior plastics were improved, but they could hardly be otherwise. RS rattles weren’t entirely banished. The EDC’s seats were comfy and supportive. A pair of Recaros (which, like a manual, weren’t available even as an option) would have added a welcome sense of specialness, although they might have also brought a sense of worry about Recaro bolster wear. As things stand, the seating position is maybe a bit high, but then it was in the Fiesta ST too. Make sure the seat adjustment mechanism works.
The RS 220 Trophy brought more equipment including a more powerful audio system, climate control, parking sensors, and a reversing camera. Leather with high-backed front seats was a £1,250 extra.
The EDC will always suffer by comparison with its illustrious forebears whose reputations seem to grow the further back you go, but the unblinking revelations of the stopwatch might lead you to a kinder view.
There was no getting away from the fact that the EDC was half a second slower through the 0-60 than the Fiesta ST, and there was a reduced sensation of performance in the Clio compared to the older, more excitable RS Clios, but you were almost certainly going slower in those cars than you thought you were going, whereas it was the other way round in the cushier gen-four. Flowing along most roads with fewer of the jinks, flicks and flirts that made the earlier cars such a hoot might not have felt so dramatic or racey, but it would probably leave you less tired at the end of a journey, if not quite so invigorated. For that though you could always rely on the RS Drive button to sharpen up the drive to your destination without necessarily reaching it any earlier.
The EDC’s five-door practicality made it more family-friendly too, if not quite as appealing to the 'three doors or bust' section of the hot hatch community, although Renault did do a good job of disguising the back two doors. We'll never know how many hardcore Renault Sport types abandoned the sub-brand as a result of the IV's ‘softening’ or after being influenced by what to some now seem like overly harsh launch reviews. Nor will we know how many new 'grown-up' buyers popped up to take their place.
What we do know is that, stripped of the RS baggage and examined objectively, the EDC is a valid, modern and comfortable choice for a tech-oriented owner, maybe someone with a young family who is happy to trade a degree of rough-edged rort for the extra practicality of a roomy five-door body and the extra fuel efficiency of a 1.6 turbo four, comfortable in the knowledge that forced induction opens up plenty of affordable aftermarket routes to ensportment. A well-executed remap will take you up to 250hp for not much money. A quote for adding 50hp to an old NA 2.0 would need a bit more thinking about.
As for the auto transmission, try one for yourself and form your own view. If you’ve put up with the heavy clutch of an earlier RS you might well think that the EDC is some kind of nirvana. To get a first-hand account of what that RS transition from analogue to digital feels like, we recommend you take a squint at this 2017 PH Carpool piece by MJH. He switched to an EDC 200 from a 90,000-mile 182 that was starting to cost him money on repairs. He’d read all the negative reviews of the newer car but his own road test had convinced him that the EDC was just the job and you may end up feeling the same.
If you do, here are a few likely lads from the PH Classifieds. First up is this 2015 200 in black with 25,000 miles. It’s not a high-spec car but nor is it a high-priced one at £11,995. For just over £1,000 more you could be in a phase two 220 Trophy like this 23,000-mile specimen in Flame Red. At £100 short of £16k how about this well-specced 220 in Liquid Yellow with RS Monitor, an Akrapovic exhaust and 33,000 miles.
1 / 14