The 172 Cup gained almost instant affection upon its arrival in 1999, but Renaultsport had already covered itself in glory earlier in the decade with the special-edition Williams, a gold-wheeled masterpiece that helped to establish the template for future pulse-quickening Clios
If you were to remove the badges from this new car, replace them with, say, Hyundai ones, and present it to the world, it would be delightfully received. Agile, quick, smooth and capable, the Clio is, without question, good fun.
But? But we’re not used to a Renaultsport being the second-best car in its class by a distance. We’re not used to it being significantly less engaging and enjoyable than its predecessor. And we’re unaccustomed to Renaultsport, of all hot hatch makers, leaving out some of the qualities that make its hatchbacks kings in their class.
Instead, we must get used to a different breed of Clio – one as quilted for your comfort as it is honed for your enjoyment. That it is still good keeps Renaultsport in our good books, but it also leaves us with a slight sense of disappointment.
Ford's Fiesta ST, consequently, remains the best hot hatch on sale.