RE: Renault Clio 182 Trophy: PH Hero

RE: Renault Clio 182 Trophy: PH Hero

Monday 26th February

Renault Clio 182 Trophy: PH Heroes

Dieppe's last properly flyweight Clio still has all the right moves



In July 2005, Autocar's cover line said it all: 'World's Greatest Hot Hatch'. Hyperbole, you think? No. The Renault Sport Clio 182 Trophy was that good. Then, now, always. And while a number of cars have appeared since to challenge what we regard as truly exceptional in a hot hatch (at least two more from Renault) the Trophy has earned itself a permanent and reverential place in the discussion.

How? Well, it helps to cook with the right ingredients. Off the back of the Clio Williams, Dieppe had already spent half a decade turning the humble second generation Clio into something special. Shoehorning a modified 2.0-litre 16-valve engine into the supermini helped some; the F4R730 four-cylinder unit had variable valve timing and made 172hp. To make the most of it, Renault Sport launched the Cup model in 2002, which relieved the car of everything from air con to its spare wheel.


The result wasn't far north of a metric ton, a trifling kerb weight that Dieppe underpinned with stiffer springs and dampers, and a wider track. It also went to the trouble of increasing the castor angle of the front wheels - and eschewing trivialities like stability control or anti-locking brakes. Best of all, because you sat on blancmange seats amid virtually no sound-proofing, Renault decreed that you shouldn't have to pay too much for its terrier-like change of direction and laissez-faire attitude to weight transfer either, and charged £12,995. You couldn't go faster for less. Nor have any more fun.

By 2004 a facelift had turned the Clio into the 182, the extra power liberated by a redesigned exhaust manifold and high flow catalytic convertor (the changes culminating in the model's new dual tailpipes). The standard RS version already sat on wider tracks and stiffer suspension and had the 172 Cup's caster angle, but for £200 more you could add the chassis pack which lowered the car by 3mm onto even firmer springs and dampers, and strengthened the front hub.


The bonafide Cup version repeated its predecessor's weight-loss game plan, although the equipment shedding wasn't nearly as far-reaching. The Trophy, a runout version limited to just 500 units in the UK, ditched the pretence of a diet altogether. It boasted no more power than a standard 182, and had a smattering of leather to go with its puffy Recaro sports seats, Capsicum Red paint job and dark metallic 16-inch Turini wheels. But no-one was parting with £15,500 in 2005 for the confetti - it was what you couldn't see that mattered.

Rather than mating the Clio with a higher output (as it had already done with the surreal V6 model), Dieppe blew the development budget on Sachs Race Engineering dampers ten times as expensive as those worn by the Cup car. With separate reservoirs to handle half the oil and gas, a thicker damper rod could be deployed - and because the hydraulic bump stops were included, the Trophy could afford to feature shorter springs. This meant that it rode 10mm lower than even the Cup version. And was about 100 times cooler.


The 13 years between then and now have hardly threatened to unmake its reputation, even accounting for the woeful driving position and famously low rent trim plastics. Certainly it doesn't hurt that the ever fattening layer of driver aids, sound-deadening and fuel-saving sediment was comparatively thin in 2005, and that the Trophy retains the fast-vanishing combination of naturally-aspirated engine, dinky size, hydraulic steering, passive suspension and a kerbweight still shy of 1,100kg. Yet that still doesn't quite account for the way the Trophy covers ground.

It is instructive here to recall that the Cup version did not ride badly; it was merely unflinching in the way you might expect from such a small and single-minded car. Thus it occasionally bridled or banged or clattered - not enough to scupper the fun, just enough for you to heed the strain. In the Trophy, while the vertical stiffness remains pronounced on Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres, it is also made to feel soft-edged and accommodating by an entirely different league of wheel control.


Certainly no contemporary supermini could lay claim to its level of composure. In 2005, it was unprecedented - even in 2018, the chassis's resistance to becoming unsettled at speed or under high lateral loads is a marvel. Alongside the trick dampers, it is the progressiveness of the bump stops which help provide the stubbier springs with the elbow-room to shine; meaning that you get better, flatter body control without the sacrifice typically required by a reduction in suspension travel. No less impressive is the fact that the Trophy doesn't forfeit its frenetic, fun-loving side to greater sophistication. A higher grade of assurance means it can be driven more quickly, more often, sure - but not in a way that dials back on the clamorous, quintessentially 'Clio' bit that made it so compelling in the first place.

With all the same handling pungency present and correct - only better and sweeter and more congruous - the limited-edition model is one of those rare front-drive cars that rewards total commitment without seeming fraught or over endowed. It remains honest and easy to drive on the surface, and the harder you try, the more enigmatically gifted it appears to get. Even hunched over the controls, with your fingers stuck to the steering wheel, it's hard to conceive of a way it might have been made better. Crushing then to learn that only 304 remain registered in the UK, and of that number there can hardly be many as box-fresh as Renault's own heritage fleet constituent. Expect the seller of such an example to make you pay handsomely. And expect it to seem cheap at twice the price.


SPECIFICATION - RENAULT CLIO 182 TROPHY

Engine: 1,998cc, 4cyl 16v
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 182@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 148@5,250rpm
0-62mph: 6.5 secs
Top speed: 138mph
Weight: 1,090kg
MPG: 34
CO2: 194g/km
On sale: Sept 2004 - Sept 2005
Price new: £15,500
Price now: £5,000 - £9,000

Inspired? Buy a Renault Clio 182 Trophy here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Madfraz

Original Poster:

9 posts

71 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Got mine new, No# 156 late 2005 £12.500
Had it for three years and traded it in for a Noble M12. Apart from top speed ( which you never use anyway) the Trophy was more fun. I wish I’d kept the Clío

lord trumpton

4,974 posts

62 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Ive got a 1 owner 29k mile minter tucked away at work.

jago-fq3vy

4 posts

10 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Totally brilliant car, I bought the best one I could after watching Harry Metcalfe’s YouTube video:

https://youtu.be/BTTI-aMKn60

Unfortunately young family and work commitments mean it doesn’t get used so I may stick it up on pistonheads tomorrow for someone else to enjoy...

Motorrad

6,668 posts

123 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
They're very rewarding to drive but I really don't think they're worth twice the price of a good 182 other than as a collector's item.

Yipper

5,964 posts

26 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
A rather overrated car. The Saxo VTS was a much nicer car to drive, in that pocket-rocket segment.
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lord trumpton

4,974 posts

62 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Yipper said:
A rather overrated car. The Saxo VTS was a much nicer car to drive, in that pocket-rocket segment.
Balls

Madfraz

Original Poster:

9 posts

71 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Yipper said:
A rather overrated car. The Saxo VTS was a much nicer car to drive, in that pocket-rocket segment.
You have obviously never driven one! Saxo wouldn’t see where the Clío went! And it’s much better than a standard 182 ( I had one for two years before the Trophy)

SouthHamsGaz

380 posts

59 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Yipper said:
A rather poor trolling attempt. Must try harder

MrGman

847 posts

142 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
I had one too, driving it down through the swiss alps has been my best ever motoring experience. loved that car a really wish i still had it.

Tickle

2,929 posts

140 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Fantastic cars, one of the best I've owned.

Notanotherturbo

302 posts

143 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Motorrad said:
They're very rewarding to drive but I really don't think they're worth twice the price of a good 182 other than as a collector's item.
Exactly right, Recaros are a nice addition but having owned a good 182 Cup I struggle to imagine how a set of dampers can make that much difference. I'd pay maybe 30-40 percent more for a Trophy but not double :0)


udat

12 posts

118 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Such a superb car. It doesn't come out of the garage all that often so I sometimes think about selling it, but then every time I take her out I am reminded how much I love it.

aaron_2000

2,126 posts

19 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
They're a 21st century 205 GTI, only more so. Buy the best one you can find with no mileage on it, store it until EV is the norm, then sell it for £50k plus.

Bonefish Blues

12,003 posts

159 months

Sunday 25th February
quotequote all
Happy memories indeed.

RBH58

940 posts

71 months

Monday 26th February
quotequote all
Even the lesser Cup versions remain epically good cars. The likes of which we'll sadly never see again. I spent last Sunday chasing a couple of (relatively standard) 182 Cups on some tight 2nd/3rd gear back roads. I was driving my wife's new Abarth 124. They were quite a challenge to keep up with.

zestyfesty

30 posts

35 months

Monday 26th February
quotequote all
Followed a superbly driven 182 Cup on slicks over Lukey Heights at Philip Island last weekend. It dissected the entire complex on 3 wheels, squirming and softly gyrating at the rear. 95% of the pace of a well set up Evo, probably more fun, half the running costs. Gotta get one

FerdiZ28

1,139 posts

70 months

Monday 26th February
quotequote all
Yipper said:
A rather overrated car. The Saxo VTS was a much nicer car to drive, in that pocket-rocket segment.
I assume troll, but nonsense. Only comparable fun to one of these is a Xsara vts. I drove a trophy at uni when i went through phase of winding up car salesmen and driving hot hatches I had nowhere near the means to buy (ep3, trophy, st170, gti180, proton lotus thing). Trophy by far the most desirable.

yonex

12,680 posts

104 months

Monday 26th February
quotequote all
Ignore him, he’s an idiot.

cib24

662 posts

89 months

Monday 26th February
quotequote all
Cool car, but what was a better car to own and drive?

Clio 172 and 182 vs. EK9 Civic Type R or Integra Type R DC2

Clio 197/200 vs. Integra Type R DC5 or Civic Type R FD2

I wish there was an online review comparing these cars as they seem like the most obvious comparables.

SidewaysSi

4,825 posts

170 months

Monday 26th February
quotequote all
I do love the Trophy and I do think of getting a Clio but a Honda with a K20 conversion seems more fun.

Also is lack of a diff an issue? Reviews seem to be silent on it but given the ITR and 250 etc seem to make good use of them, as a focused hot hatch, does it need one?