Few cars have reigned as class leader for as long as the Renault Clio Renaultsport.

Every previous iteration of it has been our hot supermini of choice for a simple reason: each was an enthusiast’s dream.

Fast, light, cheap and adjustable, with a heady 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine and twangy Cup chassis, past versions positively clamoured to be driven hard and devoured track duties just as readily as they spiced up a commute.

To anyone lucky enough to have spent a decade and a half behind its oversized steering wheel, the Renaultsport Clio was a formula of devilish perfection. But apparently not one immune to change.

With an all-new Clio comes a seismic change to Renaultsport’s established approach. Like the standard model, the RS 200 must now be bought with five doors. Its engine has been downsized and turbocharged. And the gearbox has been automated. Although a more track-focussed RS 220 Trophy has recently been added.

These changes are intended to make the former tearaway a more appealing prospect to a broader cross-section of buyers.

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But can a softer, more sensible Clio RS live up to our lofty expectations?

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First drives

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