From £16,025
Cracking hot hatch gets a makeover - and a higher sticker price - with mixed results

Our Verdict

Renault Clio Renaultsport 2006-2012
Its a measure of the Clio Renaultsport that it can be compared to hot hatches from the class above

The Renault Clio Renaultsport is a fine car, even if competence replaces the usual impishness of a hot Clio

20 September 2010

What is it?

A cynical piece of marketing — or the revival of one of the iconic names of motoring history; it depends on which way you look at it.

There was a lot of excitement when news first broke a year ago about Renault’s plans to bring the Gordini name back. But then the truth materialised: the Gordini models (based on Renaultsport’s Twingo and Clio) would be no more than a new paint job, exterior styling tweaks, some extra options boxes ticked and a few interior changes, including an individual ‘one of 500’ plaque.

See the test pics of the Renault Clio Gordini 200

What’s it like?

The standard Renaultsport Clio is a favourite in the Autocar office and has humbled many cars with considerably higher sticker prices. The Gordini model is no exception; the 197bhp 2.0-litre unit is a gem of an engine that gets better as it revs towards the redline. It encourages you to push on – and rewards you with peak power arriving at 7100rpm when you do. There’s also a low growl from the exhaust, something sadly absent from many of today’s other hot hatches.

And then there’s the chassis. Few cars can be exploited to near the maximum of their ability at safe speeds on UK roads, but the Renaultsport Clio is one. But we already knew all this; so does the Gordini bring anything to the experience?

The standard car’s interior is bland but that’s where some of its appeal lies; it’s clear the money was spent on developing the chassis and the running gear. The ambience in the Gordini model is certainly greater thanks to some extra blue and white-striped trim on the steering wheel, a new Gordini gearknob and some piano-black trim for the centre console. It also gets a pair of attractive leather-trimmed sports front seats and a leather-trimmed three-seat rear bench.

Whether you like the exterior racing stripes and metallic blue finish is down to personal taste, but the Gordini certainly stands out from the rest of the Clio range.

Should I buy one?

Enthusiasts who care more about a pure and exhilarating driving experience than fancy stuck-on interior trim and racing stripes buy Renaultsport Clios. If anything, this Gordini model is a reminder at just how good the standard car is – and how good value (starting at £16,710) it is, too.

As good as it is to see the Gordini name back, it’s hard not to see this as anything other than Renault finding a way to charge extra money for a Renualtsport Clio.

It will appeal to those seeking a bit more individualisation (only 500 will be made) and personalisation with their purchase, but the rest of us would be best served sticking to the entry-level model and waiting to see what – if anything – Renault does next with the Gordini name.

Renault Clio Gordini 200

Price: £19,650; Top speed: 141mph; 0-62mph: 6.9sec; Engine, type, cc: 4 cyl, petrol, 1998cc; Power: 197bhp at 7100rpm; Toque: 158lb ft at 5400rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual; Economy: 34.4mpg; CO2; 195g/km

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Join the debate

Comments
16

24 September 2010

A cynical - and some might say tacky - marketing ploy indeed. Even exclusivity is not guaranteed. The original Clio Williams was supposed to be an exclusive limited edition after all. Until Renault released the Clio Williams 2. And the Clio Williams 3.

At least as the author rightly suggests, a Gordini 2 might actually be worth holding out for, especially if it incorporates some changes beyond just a couple of asymmetric stripes.


24 September 2010

What a wasted opportunity. The stripes on the outside are embarrassing and the blue flashes inside are garish. It could have been the Clio for a slightly older generation (like me) who really want a car like this but with a layer of subtle sophistication and class added

24 September 2010

I like the paragraph heading "What’s it like?"

"Exactly the same as the normal car, what did you expect?" covers it!

24 September 2010

What a waste of a chance, just a money making scheme from Renault. Why anyone would buy one over the standard 200 is beyond me.

24 September 2010

[quote Wanos] What a waste of a chance, just a money making scheme from Renault[/quote]

But isn't that what Renault is in business for? If they can make a decent profit on this car which they can use to develop great cars in the future, then that's a result as far as I'm concerned.

What a waste of a first drive though. Surely since the car has the standard 200 hardware, is was pretty obvious that it would drive exactly the same. As a result, the story could have been written without the need to drive the car, and just had a go at Renault for trying to make a few quid selling the car to someone who want to brag about owning a top of the range Clio.

24 September 2010

Renaultsport Clios and Meganes today are what Gordini models were 30+ years ago.

Hence using the Gordini name in this way is only going to tarnish the name of a man who not only brilliantly developed rear engined cars for racing/rallying but than proved a powerful front wheel drive model could handle almost as well, four years before VW jumped on the bandwagen with their under-developed (by comparison the Gordini cars) Golf GTi

24 September 2010

If they fitted a turbo to this feeble excuse of a Gordini named car then I might be interested.

Anyone notice the newer Clio 200's have an RS (renault sport) badge on the front grill? They didn't used to when they was 1st launched, how sad am I for noticing that lol.

Id go for a alien green clio 200 (not cup version but id have the cup version suspension fitted), with anthracite alloys and optional recaro seats.

24 September 2010

There’s also a low growl from the exhaust, something sadly absent from many of today’s other hot hatches. I'm sorry but I don't agree. Every Abarth I've tested recently comes with a Monza exhaust. It's silly, it makes more noise and let's face it these wee cars are not running V8 motors. I like Clios, but if I want a fruity sound I'd get a 350Z, M3 or the real deal. These Hot Hatches should offer FUN, Grip, and economy. Noisy exhausts. No thanks

25 September 2010

When Renault launched a hotter version of the 5 about 30 years ago they called it the Alpine. They weren't allowed to call it that in some markets so it got called the Gordini... Just using the name to shift the cars is what marketing is all about and they are in business to sell cars. Renault are far from unique in this respect.

25 September 2010

[quote Johnny English]A cynical - and some might say tacky - marketing ploy indeed. Even exclusivity is not guaranteed. The original Clio Williams was supposed to be an exclusive limited edition after all. Until Renault released the Clio Williams 2. And the Clio Williams 3.[/quote]

I'd say Renault learnt from the furore surrounding the Williams cars. The 182 Trophy and 197 R27 both stuck to the promised 500 models (RHD anyway!)

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