The new Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo has just been unveiled at the Paris Motor Show but there’s one word in that name that signifies a big change in direction for Renault’s ever-popular hot hatch. That word is ‘Turbo’.
It’s no secret that the 2.0-litre engine in the Mk3 Clio 200 was struggling with emissions regulations and with less torque than its rivals it was just a question of time before the Clio dropped to a smaller turbocharged engine. So now we have a Renaultsport Clio that loses 400cc and yet it has the same 197bhp output and delivers 240Nm (177lb/ft) of torque from as little as 1,750rpm all the way up to 5,600rpm, an increase of 25Nm (or 18lb/ft).
That’s not the only big change though. Renaultsport versions of the Mk4 Clio will be five-door only, following Renault’s decision to drop the three-door completely. Admittedly the Mk4 Clio is a decent car to look at, apart from the comically large badge in the front grille, but one of the big attractions of the Clio Renaultsport was its squat, three-door shape.
The Renaultsport model will still be easy to spot though, thanks to 17-inch wheels, restyled bumpers with bigger LEDs at the front, and a new rear diffuser and spoiler that are said to generate 80% and 20% more downforce respectively. There’s also a modified version of the R Sport system fitted to standard Clios that allows drivers to ‘choose’ an engine noise. Is this just a gimmick to replace a properly tuned sports exhaust? We’ll have to wait and see.
So the Clio Turbo has a new engine and a new body shape, but it also has a new gearbox too. This is the change that will horrify die-hard Renaultsport fans as the Clio moves from a manual to a standard-fit EDC dual clutch transmission. In ‘race’ mode (there are three mdoes to choose from) the gearbox is said to change cogs in just 150 milliseconds, but it can be smooth and docile around town. The auto-box also helps reduce emissions, down by 25% overall, and improve fuel economy but it’s going to upset those of us who prefer a manual.
The Clio’s greatest strength was always its chassis and that continues as before. The Cup chassis is available as an option, sitting 5mm lower than the standard Sport chassis and set up to be 15% stiffer. Brakes are improved too, with front discs growing from 312mm to 320mm.
Performance figures haven’t been revealed yet but seeing as the Mk4 Clio is on average 100kg lighter than the Mk3 it’s reasonable to assume the Clio 200 Turbo will be noticeably quicker on accleration times. Prices and release dates have yet to be decided but the car is expected to be ready in the first half of 2013.
The Mk4 Clio Renaultsport is a big departure from the Mk3 but I’ve got faith in Dieppe’s engineers. If anyone can make sure the turbocharged, dual-clutch setup has proper sparkle it’s the Renaultsport team.