The current Renault Clio is an evolution of a car that helped to define the super mini segment. Its three previous models met the class requirements with ease. They did this by having an attractive design and compact size and dynamic handling. All that changed when Renault debut their third generation Clio. The new Clio has a serious design, refined handling and an interior that screams luxury. Renault’s chief designer, Mr Laurens van den Acker and his team are at it again. This time round,they have introduced a powerful and more aggressive Clio RS200. With the release of the new sporty Clio, Renault Sports Technologies have proven that they can still produce unique sport minis that evoke emotions.
|Renault Clio RS200|
The new Clio RS200 builds on the normal Clio’s remarkable design. The RS200 has a new bumper, twin exhaust tail-pipes and large wheels. Each of the new styling improvements pays a crucial role in the performance of the car. At the front the grille incorporates R.S. badging, beneath the large chrome Renault logo. LED daytime running lights in the lower part of the bumper form a visual signature that can be identified during the day or night. At the rear, the exhaust tail pipes form a fully integrated part of the diffuser. The diffuser is highlighted by a tell-tale rectangular surround. The rear diffuser works with a large rear lip spoiler. The diffuser contributes to nearly 80% of extra downforce generated at the rear. The rest is generated from the specially designed lip spoiler. The Clio RS200 rides on standard 17-inch Silver Grey ‘Tibor’ wheels. They can be upgraded with large Gloss Black or Dark Gun Metal 18- inch wheels.
A small 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol heart pumps life to the RS200 using 200hp (149kW) and 240Nm of torque. The increase in power is as a result of tuning the powerplant’s air inlet, distributor, throttle and turbo. A twin clutch six speed gearbox, unique to the RS200, features gear ratios that can be selected automatically or manually. When judged against a stop watch, the Clio RS200 accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in just 6.7 seconds. Press the accelerator pedal further and the dial moves to the set top speed of 230kph. It consumes on average, 6.3-litres per 100km. This is 2 litres less compared to the outgoing model. Power is sent to the front wheels.
The chassis has received some performance tweaks as well. Compared to a civilised Clio, this particular version has improved comfort, handling, road holding capability and superb braking for rapid deceleration. The front suspension features a pseudo-MacPherson strut layout, consisting of stronger components to increase its stiffness. A large damper improves the hydraulic performance of the car, by reducing body roll. Large 320 mm disc brakes, adopted from the Laguna V6, are fitted at the front.
|RS badged front|
The rear suspension has a thicker and stiffer anti-roll bar compared to the outgoing Clio 111 RS and the polite Clio. 260mm brake discs are fitted at the back. A new electronic differential improves the cornering grip of the RS200. It does this by reducing the tendency for a car to push straight ahead during hard cornering (under steer). It does this by monitoring the difference in rotation between the front wheels and rear wheels. As soon as there is a great speed difference between on each front wheels, the system gently brakes the wheel that might lose its grip. Torque is not reduced, so as power from the engine. Hence drivers enjoy a restricted free driving either on the road.
The RS200 can be ordered with an optional Cup chassis, tailored for greater sporting performance. The suspension lowers the car by 3mm and is stiffer than the standard sports suspension. Three performance modes change the ‘mood’ of the RS Clio at the touch of a button. There is a ‘Normal’ mode, which delivers a quiet ride, comfort and low running costs. Choose either ‘Sport’ or ‘Race’ modes and the aggressive nature of the car reveals itself. An ‘R.S. Drive’ is all you need to press to experience the split nature of this super mini. A new launch control feature is now incorporated to the RS200 DNA. This uses a fully manages the launch and ensures the super mini can leap from standstill more efficient. The exhaust sound of the new Clio RS is amplified by a membrane and transmitted via a pipe to the cabin.
The interior is dominated by a black trim with red elements, which draws the eye to the structure and shape of the cabin. Red is used on the sports stitching, seat belt, the sports steering wheel’s ‘straight ahead’ position marker, the air vent surrounds and door panel beading. The gear lever knob, too, comes with red touches which are echoed by the visible stitching of the gear lever gaiter. Dark Metal gear shift paddles are fixed behind the steering wheel. RS specific instrument, feature a grey background.
|Well trimmed interior|
When the engine is fired up, the rev-counter and fuel gauge needles come to life with a fun display. The RS bucket seats come with additional lateral support, in order to provide the high levels of seating comfort and stability. The seats are upholstered in black leather and have red stitching. A black lacquer centre console houses the multimedia unit, which are finished with a chrome surround. 60/40-split folding rear bench seat, electric front windows and mirrors, plus keyless entry and ignition are fitted as standard. All occupants benefit from plenty of practical storage spaces located throughout the cabin. Luggage can be stored in the spacious boot.
|A sporty rear|
The Clio RS comes fitted with Renaults R-Link system as standard. Interior sound is managed by an Arkamys® 3D audio system. To cater for the rapidly expanding use of portable music players, R-Link is equipped with Bluetooth® audio and telephony connectivity, as well as a USB port and a jack input. Renaults Bass Reflex sound system is integrated into the front doors’ loudspeakers. The system delivers rich sound via a large 30-litre home speaker enclosure.
Renault Clio RS is no longer a bland car. It looks great both on the inside and outside. Its performance figures are epic as well. It sets a new chapter, not only for Renault’s super mini but also to the entire brand as well. I just hope that the new design features found in the Clio RS200 will trickle down to other Renault models.