Don’t you just love it when a manufacturer throws away the rule book and builds a car that looks completely out of place alongside the rest of its line-up? Like Toyota turning its back on ‘The Toyota Way’ with the GR Yaris, the Albert Biermann-developed Kia Stinger and a Lexus-badged front-engine V10 supercar. And then, of course, there’s the Renaultsport Clio V6, whose inception is every bit as barmy as its wide-arched silhouette would have you think it is.
It all starts with a bizarre championship. The Renault Clio Cup is, or was, a highlight of a BTCC weekend. It was a recipe for complete chaos: fill a grid with (relatively) cheap race-spec Clios, get a bunch of teenagers all looking to show the world how talented they are and pit them against each other on Britain’s finest circuits. It was a major success and when the second-generation Clio arrived in the late 1990s, Renaultsport wanted to build on the success of the Clio Cup by shaking up the formula. Just a bit.
Legendary race car builder Tom Walkinshaw Racing was called upon to shove a Laguna-sourced 2.9-litre V6 in the middle of Renault’s new supermini. The result was a wide-arched, short-wheelbase monster that would form the one-make Clio Trophy series. Naturally, spectators were blown away by the sight of the juiced-up supermini and (somehow) some very cool people at Renault were able to get senior members to give the greenlight to a road-going version.
Interestingly, the first-generation road-going Clio V6 would be assembled by TWR in Sweden, with production shifting to Dieppe in France for the Phase 2. This meant that the mid-engine Clio had a homemade whiff about it, especially on the inside. TWR left the interior largely unchanged, with the bog-standard Clio’s hilariously ugly tri-spoke steering aluminium-look base to the gear lever. You get a set of Renaultsport seats from the Clio 172. And, well, that’s about it.
But none of that matters when you’ve essentially got a road-legal Clio Trophy. Phase 1 examples produced a not insignificant 230hp which, of course, was sent exclusively to the rear wheels and managed by a six-speed manual gearbox. Couple that with the Phase 1’s tiny wheelbase (extended for the Phase 2) and considerably wider track, and the Clio V6 established a reputation as being a bit of a handful in the corners. That, and there was no traction control to act as a safety next when reality hit the fan. Not hard to see why cult classic status beckoned.
Does that soften the blow of the price tag? Well, the Phase 1 we have here has certain had some of the work done. The previous (and only) owner has had the front and rear subframes rebuilt, new struts and top mounts, and had a new cambelt fitted. That’s just scratching the surface of what is, clearly, a car that seems to have been incredibly well looked after. That’s partly why it’s up for £44,950. A fair bit more than the (admittedly modified) example we featured a couple of years ago, but a quick nose around the market suggests prices have climbed rapidly over the past 18 months - and the V6 was never what you'd call cheap. But it's never been anything less than a modern classic either.
SPECIFICATION | RENAULT CLIO V6 PHASE 1
Engine: 2,946cc V6
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 230@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 221@3,750rpm
Year registered: 2002
Recorded mileage: 55,000
Price new: £26,675
Yours for: £44,950
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