Car Showroom first sampled the latest Clio Renault Sport 200 Cup models in a blast around Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway.
Without doubt the two latest ‘Cup’ models were in their element screaming around the famed Victorian circuit, but what are they live every day?
Renault handed us a Clio Renault Sport 200 Cup Trophee model to find the answers.
Clio Renault Sport Cup Trophee Overview
If the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Alfa Romeo 147 or Audi S3 are on your mind, the Clio Renault Sport 200 Cup must be in your consideration set. This French, F1-inspired hot hatch has the looks, the performance and the pedigree to stake a legitimate claim as one of the best.
As confirmed by the critical acclaim earned by the Cup models with the European media, the team at Renault Sport – the company’s motor sports division - knows exactly what buyers of hot hatchbacks are looking for. Taking the competent Clio as a starting point, Renault Sport adds lots of high performance goodies to transform a hatchback into a road rocket.
This little beast loves to work hard and rewards enthusiast drivers with top shelf driving dynamics. It looks the part too and tosses in high standard European engineering and build quality for good measure.
Clio Renault Sport Cup Trophee Engine
Power comes from Renault Sport’s latest F4R RS naturally aspirated 2.0-litre 16-valve engine with power boosted to 148kW at 7,100 rpm.
A new cylinder head and cylinder mapping has concentrated on delivering 20 per cent more torque below 3,000 rpm. Peak torque is now 215Nm at 5,400 rpm, but 95 per cent is available from 3,000 rpm.
Drive is to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. Ratios for first to third gears have been shortened to provide punchier acceleration and the 200 Cup accelerates from zero to 100km/h in just 6.9 seconds.
Fuel consumption is down to 8.2l/100kms and CO2 emissions are rated at 195g/km.
Clio Renault Sport Cup Trophee Interior
It’s all business inside the 200 Cup – its motor sport heritage obvious from the moment you open the door and climb in. Over the standard 200 Cup, the Cup Troph?e as tested gains superb, figure-hugging, firm Recaro sports seats (height adjustable), simulated carbon-fibre look for the dashboard fascia and Renault’s hands-free keycard entry and push-button start.
The steering wheel (rake and reach adjustable) is a stunning Renault Sport design with perforated leather and yellow stitching which includes a center point marker. Pedals with alloy facings (including an extension of the throttle pedal for heel/toe downshifts) and the yellow rev counter with audible and visible indicators add to the sporty feel.
Comfort and convenience is not completely discarded – the CD/MP3 audio system and cruise control have steering wheel fingertip controls and climate control air conditioning is standard.
The back seat is best kept for youngsters or adults on short trips. It does split fold 60/40 for cargo versatility.
Clio Renault Sport Cup Trophee Exterior & Styling
Renault Sport called on their aerodynamicists to hone the exterior package. Most noticeable at the front is an aerodynamic ‘blade’ incorporated in the front bumper, there are also front fender air-extractors and a large rear underbody diffuser (the latter finished in gloss anthracite on the Troph?e model we tested).
The front also scores a larger under-bumper cool air intake.
All of these items are purposeful and have contributed to a more aerodynamic package with the cD down to 0.753. The front fender air extractors take hot air from the engine and intentionally channel the airflow along the sides for reduced turbulence and the underbody diffuser reduces lift by 35 kgs at 100km/h.
Troph?e models run 17-inch Renault Sport BeBop alloy wheels while the standard 200 Cup gets a different design wheel.
Clio Renault Sport Cup Trophee On The Road
The run over our high-speed mountain roads test loop confirmed the Troph?e’s pin-sharp driving dynamics we had previously experienced at Sandown Raceway. This is without doubt one of the world’s great hot hatchbacks.
Crisp turn-in, precise mid-corner balance and first-rate grip from the Continental Sport 3 tyres combine with handy responsiveness and acceleration from the 2.0-litre powerplant. Braking is top-shelf too thanks to the 312mm front discs with four-pot Brembo calipers and 300mm rear discs with single-piston TRW calipers.
But what about every day, around town?
Well the Cup 200 Troph?e is commendably civilized. Ride is still firm and you do need to use plenty of revs to keep the engine on-song, but its all quite tractable (just like our home-grown HSV and FPV vehicles). Sure it’s not as refined and luxurious as say a Renault Laguna – but this is a high performance hot hatch after all.
Nicely weighted power steering and the compact overall dimensions meant CBD parking was easy and good all-round visibility ensured lane changes on the freeway were a snack (actually helped by the Troph?e’s lively acceleration).
Clio Renault Sport Cup Trophee Challenges
The Clio is Renault’s compact hatch so it’s only a three-door which ultimately limits its versatility compared to the more expensive five-door Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Clio Renault Sport Cup Trophee The Competition
Priced from $36,490, the 200 Cup takes square aim at Volkswagen’s GTI models and cars like Audi’s S3 and Alfa Romeo 147. Where the Renault scores points over its rivals is its no-compromise motor sport and F1 heritage and specifications…it’s a race-developed hot hatch whereas the rest are a tad more mainstream.
Race car kit and driving dynamics; F1 heritage
It’s compact and only three doors