As enthusiasts, we cannot help but lament that so much of the standard Clio’s charm has been lost in the creation of such a relentlessly sensible car. So it’s left to this Renaultsport version to prove the spark is still there.
Some will complain that it lacks a few basic aesthetic requirements – there are slight gaps in the wheelarches and no brash exhaust outlets – but when they are replaced by class-leading suspension travel and a working rear diffuser, even the harshest critic will have to concede that the Clio 200 has credibility where it counts. Spend time with it and you will surely be converted by Renault’s new approach in the 200. It has created a great little fast car.
On a circuit or your favourite B-road, the Clio is a delight to play with, and happy to cope with ludicrous mid-corner throttle lifts that would have many other small cars in the gravel. It’s quick to change direction when asked, but admirably slow to punish you when you mistreat it. Short of the late, lamented Mégane R26 or Focus RS, it’s hard to think of another hot hatch with such a high level of adjustability.
Although the Cup is great for making a statement, and we’ll applaud anyone for buying one, don’t feel bad if you, and your forearms, aren’t quite that hardcore.
In an ideal world, you should buy at least two Renaultsport Clios, but we would forgive you for taking just the one. However many you buy, what you will get is the most accomplished, dynamically proficient hot hatchback this side of £20k. It’s that good.