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.
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.