Car: Renaultsport Clio 200 EDC Lux
Owned since: Jan 2017
Previously owned: VW Golf Mk3 GL TDI, Fiat Punto 1.2 Sporting, Renaultsport Clio 182
"I loved my Clio 182, it was one of the best driving experiences I'd ever had. However, as it neared 90,000 miles the problems were racking up and I had the bright idea of working out how much cash I'd put into it during 2016. Once I'd recovered from that ordeal I concluded it needed to go. I wanted to stay with the Renaultsport brand (I've become a bit obsessed with it) but where do you go from a 182?
"I wanted something with more comfort, and more equipment but also a car that could still shift and put a smile on my face. After countless hours trawling the classifieds and ringing dealers with limited direction I stumbled across a controversial, hated by many, but oh so pretty - to me, at least - Clio 200 EDC. A few phone calls, a trip up the M1 and a very spirited test drive later, a deal was done. I waved a misty eyed goodbye to my beloved 182 and set off home in the EDC. After the first run down the slip road back onto the M1 homeward bound misty eyes had been replaced by a beaming grin and, thankfully, a feeling that I'd made the right decision."
What I wish I'd known:
"Because the 200 EDC received a fairly frosty reception (especially amongst a lot of RS drivers) I spent my time leading up the test drive consuming every article, video or general rant I could find that had an opinion on the car. A few recurring negatives ('that' gearbox in particular) seemed to be generally outweighed by the positives.
"Ultimately, I put my faith in how I felt when I test drove it. I knew what I expected and I knew what it had to do to be the right car to replace the 182 - thankfully it ticked all of the boxes."
"It's a superb daily car; in regular auto it potters through rush hour effortlessly but remains responsive and nippy enough to burst through the occasional gaps in the stream of cars. The enjoyment is helped by the fact the interior is a really nice place to curse traffic from; comfy seats, decent infotainment and enough nods to the RS brand make it really pleasant.
"A quick push of the RS button makes it feel like a totally different animal. The engine revs pick up on idle, the steering gets heavier and you feel it would be silly not to use the paddles to shift. Sport and Race modes introduce more exhaust noise and the pops it throws out on up shifts are addictive, equally so the little kick in revs as you shift down.
"On that note, the gearbox is actually pretty good. In automatic, Sport mode holds third like a small child clutching a beloved teddy bear, but that's nothing that can't be solved with a quick flick of the paddle or by slotting it into manual shift. The paddles themselves are aluminium and positioned nicely and I've found myself using them a lot more than I expected to. When you're driving the EDC the whole experience feels like you're driving something that cost a lot more than it actually did."
Things I hate:
"The exhaust could be louder - going from the roar of the 182 to the relatively sedate EDC was a big shock to the system. It's a shame that the Renaultsport engineers didn't twig that most RS owners actually like a slight ringing in their ears when they arrive, and many other brands seem to have worked very hard recently to produce exhausts with some oomph.
"There's also the little features that probably should have been offered but weren't; xenon headlights and Recaro seats would have been nice options but there was obviously a trade off against the cost of the gearbox. The brakes could have been Brembo, even if the big rotors that come on the car do a great job of stopping it; there's just something that builds braking confidence about having that name on your calipers."
"Despite telling myself (and promising the better half with a big smile) it wouldn't be the biggest expense; fuel is definitely costly. The daily commute brings in around 25mpg and on a motorway run, depending on how delicate my right foot is, and usually I'm averaging around 35mpg. With that in mind I've always been on the opinion that if fuel prices were my driving motivation I'd buy a Prius (and I wouldn't insist the car is always run on V Power).
Tyres aren't the cheapest (or easiest to find), the recommended Dunlop SportMaxx RT2 are £140ish a corner. Making the move to Pirelli or Michelin will put you to £150/£170 a corner respectively.
It's just come back from the annual service (worth noting that the service interval is huge - 12,500 miles or 24 months) which cost £99. Main dealer Renault charge a small fortune so I use RS Four Ashes in Wolverhampton. I used them religiously with the 182 and have continued with the EDC; the prices are fair and Floyd is pretty much the only mechanic I'll let near my car.
Where I've been:
"After seven months of the daily drag through Birmingham's riveting rush hour we packed the car up and set off for 14 days driving through France. 2,300 miles later I can safely say this will be a car I keep for many years to come. It's hugely capable with a lot of speed and sublime handling, but it can also cart around a stupid amount of luggage as well as some bottle shaped purchases picked up along the way. Now firmly back in the rush hour regime, I thoroughly miss the open roads.
"Despite disapproving looks from better half each toll booth proved a perfect opportunity to bury the accelerator and see just how quickly/loudly a fully loaded Clio could get back up to cruising speed - very is the answer. A final pit stop in Le Mans and a visit to the hallowed track drew a few nods of approval from French and British drivers alike.
"Definitely a daily drive for a few years. I've fallen in love with it and, despite having the huge shoes of the 182 to fill, the ownership experience keeps getting better. Some subtle(ish) changes are needed over the next few months though, starting with the exhaust to get a bit more roar out of it. After that I've heard of a few EDCs running 250hp with very stable ECU remaps - it would be rude not to investigate.