The Renaultsport Clio 197 has been around for a couple of years now and it’s still widely regarded as one of the best small hatches available, despite putting on a few pounds over the old Clio 182. However, the Renaultsport team haven’t been resting on their laurels and have been hard at work on chassis tweaks and removing excess weight, resulting in the new Renaultsport Clio 197 Cup.
RenaultSport Clio 197 Specifications
|Max Power:||[email protected]|
|Max Torque:||158lb [email protected]|
|Top Speed:||155mph (est)|
|0-60mph:||6.0 seconds (est)|
The first evidence of their hard work was the release, last year, of the catchily named Renaultsport Clio 197 F1 R27. At first glance a cynical mind would have dismissed it as just a way of cashing in on the F1 team’s back-to-back Formula One manufacturer titles, but there was real substance behind the car. Underneath the F1 stickers and (optional) bright yellow paintwork was the long awaited Cup chassis package. A popular option on the old 182 Clio, fans of the little hatch had been desperately waiting for the equivalent on the new 197.
The Cup chassis comes with new spring settings, stiffened by 27 per cent at the front and 30 per cent at the back, and with a ride height that’s been dropped by 7mm. Even though 7mm might not sound a lot, the result is that the Cup has a lower centre of gravity and even higher levels of grip. Although the standard Clio 197 was already superb through the corners, the F1 R27 is even better with even more enthusiastic turn-in and noticeable improvements in traction.
However, production of the F1 R27 was limited to just 500 units, so at first it seemed that most Clio buyers would be denied the chance to get their hands on the Cup chassis.
Not to worry, as you can now order yourself a Renaultsport Clio 197 Cup which, as the name suggests, includes the excellent Cup chassis. But wait … there’s even more good news, as the Renaultsport engineers have managed to shave 20kg off the kerb weight of the standard car. Less weight means quicker acceleration, faster direction changes, better fuel economy and less strain on brakes, so while it doesn’t sound like the 197 Cup will win Slimmer Of The Year it does mean that in most ways it will be sharper than the standard car.
How have they saved the weight? The standard air-conditioning is relegated to the options list, so there’s no heavy compressor unit. The soft-touch dash has been replaced by a lighter but rock-hard unit from the entry-level Clio, the wing mirrors are now adjusted with quaint little plastic levers and the keyless entry system has been ditched in favour of a normal key (no great loss). Even the padded door panels have been removed.
Less luxury kit doesn’t just equate to less weight, it also means a cheaper price in the showroom. Coming in at £1,000 less than the price of a standard Clio 197, the Clio 197 Cup can be yours for just £14,995. When you consider the performance on offer that’s a bit of a bargain, there’s practically nothing in this price range that can match the talent of the 197 Cup. So it might not be the last word in comfort when you’re pottering about town, but drive the Cup as it was intended – fast – and it comes alive.
You can now specify Glacier White paint for the first term on a hot Clio, and you can also choose the optional matt black 17″ Speedline alloys. Together they make a striking combination, and make a nice change from the usual Racing Blue.
If you buy this car because you think its cool, you’ve heard its getting ‘great reviews’ and is the best thing since sliced bread, the chances are you won’t ‘get it’ and you’ll just be irritated by its lack of creature comforts and harsh ride. But buy it on the understanding that its a hardcore Clio, a tuned pocket rocket with more dynamic talent than you’ll ever need on the road, and you’ll get on fine – before long you’ll find yourself trying to turn every journey into a B-road blitz!