It’s quite incredible how the colour of car can affect the way you perceive it. I once came close to buying a Saab and when the dealership wasn’t able to offer me the paintwork I wanted, the salesmen said in desperation, ‘well, you won’t see the colour when you are driving…’.
Surprisingly, the Renaultsport Clio is unmissable and not for the right reason. I just can’t get my head around why anybody would want a car in yellow, or mustard or call it what you will.
The Renaultsport Clio is a great car but it somehow lacks the excitement and raw edge of past Clio hot hatches, like the 172 Cup and the Williams. It’s more refined, more forgiving and probably less of a buzz than the class-leading Ford Fiesta ST, which is lighter and more agile.
Fun? Yes of course, but gentlemen of a certain age will remember driving previous Clios and possibly be a little disappointed.
You don’t buy a Renaultsport for practical reasons but considering it is based on the multi-talented Clio then it should have a lot to recommend it – right?
Well, yes it does. Once you have located the hidden rear door handles, the back seat is more than capable of coping with two full-size adults. There’s an OK boot that can be extended quickly with some easy-drop rear seats too.
The dashboard is functional rather than creative – the Clio is a modest supermini after all – but there are lots of cabin bins for wallets, gloves and so on. And the door pockets are even big enough to take my sunglasses case. You would be amazed how many cars bigger than this don’t.
Grumbles? Well, the tailgate grip for shutting the boot down is awkward to grip, as are those rear door handles. Headroom is restricted in the back and I recommend sensible shoes if you are planning to thrash the Renaultsport – those aluminium pedals are not designed for big boots!
Rumour has it The Stig burnt out the brakes and trashed the tyres on the Renaultsport Clio tested by Top Gear.
Now, some might say that’s ridiculous and rather stupid but the fact is there is only one place to enjoy the 200 to the full and that’s on the race track.
There’s so much power scrabbling through the front wheels that believe me, this Clio needs to be treated with the greatest respect. You really do need a circuit to get the most out of it.
What’s remarkable about the Clio is that you can drive it modestly most of the time – then it turns into beast when you hit the EDC button behind the automatic gear changer.
Two very different cars, which will suit some people who can only drive in the real world and don’t have access to a racetrack…
I’m not sure the last time I was presented with a yellow test car. Back in the 1990s, there was a rash of banana-coloured motors left on my driveway with no apology letter at all.
It wasn’t just family runabouts either – Porsche and Mercedes were guilty of painting perfectly good cars a very silly colour.Yellow is for AA vehicles only. Full stop.
So if the Renaultsport Clio wasn’t already in your face enough, the bling paint job just adds insult to injury. At least the copious amount of mud splashed around the countryside at the moment is dulling the pain.
The trouble with this particular Clio is that once you open the door, it gets worse. Apart from a rather cheap-looking ‘Renaultsport’ sticker slapped on the dashboard, the red safety belts clash horribly with the orange metal door trim.
For such a startling little performer, it seems the interior designers were rushing to get the job finished too….
I’m locked in a battle of nerves with the Clio. It’s nothing to do with the incredible handling, the sensational burst of speed when you press the EDC button, or the smile it brings to your face on a twisty road targeted with cow turds.
No, it’s all to do with the Renault key-less locking system. Now, Renault dispenses with an ordinary key years ago. Instead, owners of all Renaults are supplied with a credit card-style unit that either stays in your pocket, or pops safely in to a gap in the dashboard.
Nothing wrong with that except the Renault Anti Intruder Device (RAID, getit?) is super sensitive when you walk away from the car with the ‘key’ in your pocket. I reckon I can manage about nine paces before there’s a hefty click and the car is shutdown.
Of course, you could argue this is very sensible in such a desirable little motor. Except in the real world, every time you want to get something from the car, the key has to be about your persons. It’s especially infuriating if you are bringing a load of shopping home and leave the key inside your house, or in your coat pocket that you hung up on the way through the porch.
Instead of having an anti-drill locking fuel cap (do people really want my petrol that badly?), I’d rather Renault invested in a more usable door locking system that keeps me and, probably plenty of other Renault owners, in better humour.
The Renaultsport Clio may look every inch a hot hatchback but the most surprising feature is that you can only buy it in automatic form. Will enthusiasts opt for a manual Fiesta ST or Peugeot 208 GTi instead?
Well, if you like fast cars then flappy, steering wheel gear changers are where it’s at. F1 drivers don’t do battle with a boring old gearstick – they keep both hands on the wheel avoid the distraction. Which is why the Renault is slightly faster than both of its key rivals.
This racey Clio also has an RS Drive setting, which really ups the tempo by adjusting throttle response and shift speed that exploit those 200bhp to the max.
Where the Clio falls short is styling. It’s not enjoyed the subtle touch of the designer’s brush. The sporty bits, like the deep front grille and wheels are very much in your face.
After a week in a heavyweight Range Rover, driving the Clio today has been something of a wake up call. Like somebody has chucked a bucket of icy water over my head and forced me to listen to Chris Evans…
I must admit I’d forgotten that Renault joined the hot hatchback market early – launching the Renault 5 Gordini in 1976, a full year before the VW Golf GT came on the scene.
The Gordini was a blast with 93bhp under the bonnet – can you imagine what this lightweight Clio is going to do at 200bhp?
This version made it’s debut in 2012 but is has just been tweaked for even better performance, most noticeably an Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) six-speed auto gearbox which you can use in automatic mode, via paddles on the gear column, or by a push-pull gearstick.
There’s even a Launch Control system borrowed from F1 that sets the Clio up for boy racer starts at the traffic lights! All I can tell you after a ten mile trip to the shops is that it’s going to be a fun week of sideways action…