- We like...Looks; drive
- We don't...Only a four-seater
Latest super-quick, no-frills Clio is the fastest - and most focused - yet. Will you have fun driving it? We think you will
This latest quick Clio is a mid-life refresh, not an all-new model. You can tell new from old by its shiny-black nose panel and its ‘200’ badges, marking a 3bhp power gain over the old car. There are new body add-ons, front and rear, to help the car slip through the air even more smoothly. But the most telling changes are mechanical. The idea is to mark more of a difference between this Cup 200 model and the one closest to it in the Clio line-up, the Renaultsport 200.
Both are fine cars. But where the Renaultsport is a regular hot hatch – fast, well equipped, comfy – the Cup is rawer, cheaper, lighter and faster. The way it is set up makes it sit taut and flat through a corner, even one taken at mad speeds. And the steering responds more quickly than in any other Clio, too. If that’s not enough, it’s also set up to ride 15% more stiffly than before and it sits closer to the road. The ride is firm, of course, but still bearable when you’re driving slowly in town. Meanwhile, the way the power comes through is even more snap-to than before, pulling fiercely across a spread of revs. It’s a hooligan of a hatchback, one that forever nags you to drive faster. It punches harder for its weight than any other small car but still returns a real-world sensible 34mpg.
It’s all about what it’s capable of, a point brought home by the oh-so-basic dash – which is simple and fashioned from black plastic, the same as you’d find in the very cheapest Clio. There’s no air conditioning (though you can have it, if you pay extra), the steering adjusts only up-down where on others it also slides in-out, and the door mirrors you must waggle into place by hand, using a couple of levers. But it’s good where it matters: the wheel is thickly padded and good to hold, while the gearshift is direct and quick.
While the front seats are pukka racing buckets (that is, if you fork out an extra £850 for a pair of Recaros) the rear bench is a plain, thinly padded, one-piece giving seats just for two. So it’s a four-seater where every other Clio will take five.
No other small-car maker sells such a full-on focused machine. If you’re after a car that’ll take you to work Mon-Fri and then pelt round a track come the weekend, this is heaven-sent.
And although this new Clio brings with it a price hike, the good news is that it is still, at time of writing, £1000 cheaper than its Renaultsport twin.
Should you buy one? It’s a full-on car. Either you’ll love it, or you’ll be puzzled as to why anyone would want one. But the most interesting news is that you can order the Renaultsport Clio 200 (the posher one, best suited to daily use) with the Cup chassis. Now, that’ll be quite some prospect...
To read our review of the previous Clio Cup, the 197, click here
To view and buy new and second-hand Renault Clios, go to motors.co.uk
- Engines2.0 petrol
- 0-60 mph6.9secs
- Insurance groups15E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: