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?