Review: Renault Clio Renaultsport (2013)
Impressive handling and grip. Improved refinement and ride compared to previous version. Vastly improved by 220 Trophy model on 18-inch Michelin Pilot SuperSports.
Lost the raw edge of the old Clio Renaultsport. No manual gearbox option only twin-clutch EDC with paddleshifts.
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Renault Clio Renaultsport (2013): At A Glance
- New prices start from £20,300
- Insurance Group 29
- On average it achieves 62% of the official MPG figure
Popular with boy racers and track enthusiasts everywhere, the Clio Renaultsport has established a strong reputation as a fast and fun hot hatch. The latest 'hot' Clio incarnation comes in the form of the RS 200, which combines the Clio’s attractive lines with a new turbocharged engine that will cover 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds.
The Clio RS has the same 200PS power output as the old car, but now uses a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine in place of the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre unit. Not only is the new engine lighter and more efficient, but it also has more flexible performance thanks to a 25Nm increase in torque, with a maximum 240Nm available. On the downside, the new engine has lost its throaty character and the introduction of a turbo has made it whispery and quiet in comparison.
Another feature that will divide opinion is the transmission. Renault has ditched the manual gearbox in place of a EDC dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, with aluminium shift paddles. The decision to remove the manual is a bold one, but the Clio is the worse for it as it never feels boisterous enough to warrant such a supercar style gearchange.
On the plus side, the Clio RS 200 gets a new RS Drive system, with three modes: Normal, Sport and Race. Each mode adapts the engine timing, gear shift pattern, throttle response, steering weight and ESC operation to suit different driving scenarios.
Keen to give its hot hatch 'grown up' appeal, Renault has also revised the interior and diluted its racing overtones, with softer seats and trim. There an integrated touchscreen sat nav, keyless ignition and fully adjustable front seats. There’s no denying that the cabin is better than the old car, but it still lacks the quality and simplicity of its rivals, chiefly the Ford Fiesta ST.
On the road the Clio is entertaining to drive, with plenty of torque and impressive cornering ability. The car also has a better ride for long trips and doesn't crash over potholes and speed bumps like the old car use to. A cup chassis - with stiffer springs and dampers is available as a £650 option for those who want to sharpen the handling. However, even with this, the Clio still feels subdued.
Despite some improvements in the ride and interior, the Clio RS 200 was found to be seriously lacking when it comes to outright performance and enjoyment. On paper, having a hot hatch with supercar style gear changes sounds great, but in practise you get a flat experience of short ratios and too little power.
This was later corrected in 2015 with the launch of the much improved Clio RenaultSport 220 Trophy EDC, itself improved again with new features as part of the 2016 Clio revamp.
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Renault Clio Renaultsport (2013): What's It Like Inside?
The Clio Renaultsport is surprisingly spacious and practical thanks to its five-door layout. This means it has little trouble doubling up as a family car and access to the rear bench is much better than its rivals, thanks to the extra set of doors. The Clio also benefits from one of the biggest boots in its class, with 300 litres of storage.
Unfortunately, the quality of the interior isn’t that great and there’s an abundance of cheap and flimsy plastics. The dashboard itself isn’t bad in any way, although it continues the low cost theme, but we would have liked some soft touch materials as standard – this is after all meant to be a premium Clio.
We also disliked the steering wheel mounted controls, which are fiddly and difficult to use. Indeed, to remotely operate the radio, you have to use a separate stick that’s mounted at the back of the wheel. Not only is this a pain, but it’s actually easier to use the touch screen instead, which makes the extra stick completely pointless. We would have liked a more practical layout - similar to the system on the Fiesta - instead of an outdated design that feels like it has been fitted by a local garage as an afterthought.
On the plus side, the sports seats are comfortable and supportive, which makes them ideal for long trips and both the driver and front passenger get plenty of head and leg room. There’s also an abundance of cubby holes and pockets, so you’re never wanting for storage.
We also like Renault’s infotainment system, with its large touchscreen and simple controls. Unlike the steering wheel stick, the system is intelligent in its layout and easy to use with just one or two hand actions required to program the sat nav, Bluetooth or adjust the radio.
In fact, standard equipment overall is pretty decent, with 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, leather steering wheel and sports seats included, while the Lux model adds £1000 to the list price and includes TomTom integration with traffic alerts, aluminium foot pedals, tinted rear windows and steering wheel mounted controls.
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What's the Renault Clio Renaultsport (2013) like to drive?
Changing a winning formula is never easy, but Renault has to be applauded for its decision to modernise the Clio. Indeed, the new 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine is quicker, lighter and 24 per cent more efficient than the old 2.0-litre unit. What’s more, according to Renault, the new engine will return 44.8mpg and emit 144g/km of CO2, while 0-62 acceleration is improved by 0.2 seconds to 6.7 seconds.
Those headline improvements are immediately noticeable when you get behind the wheel of the Clio RS 200 which boasts plenty of pace, with 200PS along with 240Nm of torque available between 1750rpm and 5500rpm. On the road the little Renault is quick in a straight line and extremely composed in the corners, with plenty of grip. Admittedly, there’s a hint of oversteer when you press the car hard, but it’s not enough to disturb its mid-corner balance.
The Clio is also easy to drive at lower speeds and its nimble nature makes it perfect for inner city driving. The steering is firm and responsive, feeding back any undulations in the road, which makes it easy to asses driving conditions. In fact, with its large boot and five-doors, the Clio RS 200 is easy to live with and it really does fill that gap between hot hatch and family runner. But there are some rather large flies in the hot hatch ointment.
For a start, we cannot help but question the decision to ditch the manual gearbox in place of the EDC dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission. For sure, the shift paddles let you select manual gears, but the ‘box is slow and lethargic. The process isn’t helped by the short gear ratios or the fact that the engine is as quiet as a church mouse.
In manual mode, the Clio’s running gear struggles to work in unison and it results in a disappointing drive. Make no mistake, the performance figures are correct and the Clio RS 200 is a quick car, but it's deeply flawed in its set up and feels out of sorts when put to task. Thump the throttle and the Clio will need constant work and we quickly grew tired of its incessant bleeping for gearchanges. If it was available in a manual, it might be more fun and you’d be able hold it in gear for longer, but the EDC gearbox simply won’t let you do that. It’s a pity, because this set up has sucked all of the fun out of the Clio RS 200.
Admittedly, things improve a little if you leave it in auto mode and there’s some fun to be had in the corners, as the Clio’s chassis is extremely good at changing direction. But for us it’s all too short lived as the car’s hot hatch failings become all too apparent.
|1.6 200 EDC||48 mpg||6.7 s||133–135 g/km|
|1.6 220 EDC||48 mpg||6.6 s||135 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Renault Clio Renaultsport (2013)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
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