The Renaultsport 200 features a revised version of the Clio 197’s 2.0-litre normally aspirated engine, now producing 197bhp instead of 194bhp (the 200 and 197 in the model names refer to metric horsepower).
Maximum torque stays the same, at 159lb ft, but peak twist and power are both produced 150rpm earlier than before, and Renault claims that a reworked cylinder head and ECU have greatly improved the amount of torque available beneath 3000rpm. Shorter first, second and third gears help low-end urge, too.
Using all 7500rpm and a decent level of initial traction, the Clio clips 62mph from rest in 6.9sec and will reach a top speed of 141mph, at which point that fully functional rear diffuser is really earning its keep.
Moreover, being normally aspirated, the 200 needs concerted effort (in other words, a right good thrashing) to operate at the level its figures would suggest. But Renault’s decision to resist a change to light-pressure turbocharging in the hot Clio has been vindicated, because this is a fine hot hatch motor from the old school.
It demands work and fast gearchanges, but it rewards with exhilaration and the opportunity to have the driver’s skill level make a real difference. It sounds just the ticket, too – all induction blare and fizzing valve gear.
The 200 does feel a little more urgent at lower revs than the 197, and more forgiving of those who barrel into a corner and scrub off a little too much speed. There’s also an audible gearshift indicator that kicks in just before the redline. We doubt many owners will get benefit from this on the road, but it’d be a boon on track days.