A new Renault Clio Williams is tipped to go on sale in 2014 as part of an ongoing push by Renault to extract maximum benefit from its F1 involvement and underscore the technology transfer between its racing success and road cars.
Renault is yet to officially confirm that a new Clio Williams is under development, but well placed sources have told Autocar that the car will be a faster, more hardcore version of the new Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo.
Sources suggest that the programme could be announced this year, although the car is thought unlikely to go on sale for at least 18 months to prevent it from taking publicity from the initial launch of the new Clio RS 200.
It is unclear if Williams will be involved in the development of the car. It played no part in the design or engineering of the original Clio Williams, but it has been more active in diversifying its business in recent years, including working with Jaguar on hybrid technology for its C-X75 supercar.
As a customer of Renault’s F1 division, involvement in such a project is also likely to offer the chance of lowering its lease bills for using the engines.
The original Clio Williams was developed solely by Renaultsport and launched in 1993, off the back of Nigel Mansell’s F1 championship-winning season in a Renault-powered Williams, to critical and sales acclaim. Demand was such that the original planned production run of 3800 units was extended to 12,100.
At the launch of the new Clio RS at the recent Paris motor show, much was made of the car’s F1-derived technology and look. In particular, Renaultsport highlighted the car’s steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles and use of ‘Diamond-Like Carbon’ cam followers, which results in significantly reduced friction for greater performance and fuel efficiency.
In recent years, Renault’s road-going division has promoted its championship-winning form in F1 only via special editions that have been cosmetically different from standard. These have included a Red Bull Racing Twingo, Clio and Mégane, which have been sold in selected European markets only. The opportunities offered by Red Bull’s Renault-powered F1 success are complicated by its title sponsorship deal with sister brand Infiniti.
As well as promoting its success in F1, Renault reportedly sees the launch of a Clio Williams as an opportunity to leverage its heritage and reaffirm its hot hatch credentials in the face of the threat from home rival Peugeot, which will launch the 208 GTI next year.
Like the Clio RS 200, the new Clio Williams is expected to be powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-pot — an engine format and size being adopted by F1 in 2014. But its power output is set to climb to about 220bhp from the standard car’s 197bhp.
It is possible that this extra performance will be accessible only via an extra control function. The Clio RS 200 already features a Race mode that hardens parameters such as the engine and gearbox mapping, the level of steering assistance and throttle response.