Cracking hot hatch gets a makeover - and a higher sticker price - with mixed results

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.

See the test pics of the Renault Clio Gordini 200

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.

As good as it is to see the Gordini name back, it’s hard not to see this as anything other than Renault finding a way to charge extra money for a Renualtsport Clio.

It will appeal to those seeking a bit more individualisation (only 500 will be made) and personalisation with their purchase, but the rest of us would be best served sticking to the entry-level model and waiting to see what – if anything – Renault does next with the Gordini name.

Renault Clio Gordini 200

Price: £19,650; Top speed: 141mph; 0-62mph: 6.9sec; Engine, type, cc: 4 cyl, petrol, 1998cc; Power: 197bhp at 7100rpm; Toque: 158lb ft at 5400rpm; Gearbox: 6spd manual; Economy: 34.4mpg; CO2; 195g/km

See all the latest Renault reviews, news and video

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
jacksparow 16 May 2012

Bumper Sticker Maker

I have a Bumper Sticker Maker kit that has stayed in place for over four years! Thank you for this publish.

Evo_ermine 30 September 2010

Re: Renault Clio Gordini 200

Big S wrote:
What a wasted opportunity. The stripes on the outside are embarrassing and the blue flashes inside are garish. It could have been the Clio for a slightly older generation (like me) who really want a car like this but with a layer of subtle sophistication and class added

The stripes are optional on the Gordini.

jelly7961 29 September 2010

Re: Renault Clio Gordini 200

Wanos wrote:
What a waste of a chance, just a money making scheme from Renault. Why anyone would buy one over the standard 200 is beyond me.
Renault aren't the first and they won't be the last!