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.

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

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Hot Hatches

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 110 Redline
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    Our first flavour of the 1.0 TSI-engined Skoda Fabia on UK roads shows it’s versatile but not all that sporty
  • Ford Ecosport 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Zetec front
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    Can the updated Ford Ecosport improve its reputation and become the small SUV of choice, or is it another misguided effort from the Blue Oval?
  • Nissan e-NV200 Evalia
    First Drive
    18 January 2018
    All-electric seven-seater is rarity among MPVs, and for good reason: the Nissan e-NV200 Evalia is pricey and still has limited usability. Expect to see plenty as city taxis and delivery vans, though
  • Seat Arona 1.5 TSI EVO FR
    First Drive
    17 January 2018
    Seat is on a roll with the Ateca and Ibiza; can they score a hat trick with the new Arona?
  • Jaguar E-Pace D240
    First Drive
    17 January 2018
    With much riding on the success of the Jaguar E-Pace, we have been impressed with the mid-level diesel version, but now its time for the most powerful oilburner to go under the spotlight