Hot hatch fans lamenting the loss of the superb Clio Renaultsport 182 and Renaultsport 255 V6 can breathe easier, because this Renaultsport Concept on display at the Frankfurt show next month previews the hottest version of the new Clio III and goes on sale late summer next year.
There are currently no plans for an extreme mid-engined Clio such as the current V6, but next year's Renaultsport car features a 2.0-litre engine with an as-yet undisclosed power output, likely to be around 200bhp. Aggressive styling details mark out the new model, with flared wheelarches covering 18in alloy wheels, a deep front air dam, wing-mounted air vents and an angular, metal-finish diffuser with twin exhausts. The underfloor diffuser creates a low-pressure area beneath the car to increase downforce, a first in the class.
Another first for the Clio will be its six-speed gearbox, the extra ratio brought in to make the most of the naturally-aspirated 16-valve unit's revvy nature. Up front, 330mm cross-drilled Brembo brake discs are gripped by four-pot, red-painted calipers, with 280mm discs at the rear. A wider track and 215/40 R18 tyres complete the mechanical makeover.
Inside the chrome and leather cabin the feel is very much of a concept car. Expect the four individual seats and some of the more extravagant chrome detailing to be lost in the translation to production. The new Renaultsport 2.0 goes on sale next year, with a modest price increase over the current 182's £14,800 expected. After the success of the 172 and 182 versions, a lightweight, cut-price Cup version is also likely to appear after launch.