What is it?
It’s fair to say that, thus far, the current iteration of the Clio RS has been a disappointment. Previous to it, four generations (five if you include the Williams) of the Renaultsport-fettled supermini were imperious, successive class leaders, and most an object lesson in fast and cheap fun. Their replacement managed to be none of these things, saddled as it was with too many doors, too little power and a fun-dampener of an EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Its shortcomings, one suspects, were not lost on the engineers in Renault’s famed motorsport division, because many of them have been seen to in this, the 220 Trophy version. It’s still a five-door and still an automatic, but the '220' part of the name refers to a 10% power hike bestowed on the car’s now Euro 6-compliant 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the new 217bhp output distinguishing it from the 197bhp variant still below it in the range pecking order.
The extra power comes courtesy of a marginally larger blower and an engine remap. An increase in boost pressure delivers more peak torque, too - 192lb ft at 2000rpm. It's an improvement so crucial to the Clio’s drivability that it migrates to the cheaper 200 version as well. Exclusive to the Trophy, however, is a ‘substantially recalibrated’ EDC ’box, which now shifts 50% quicker than before, along with a bespoke chassis set-up.
This includes substantially firmer springs, the rear twist beam having been stiffened by 40%, with dampers to match. The steering ratio has been reduced, too, for better directness, and the standard 18in wheels teamed with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, for better traction. There’s still no proper limited-slip differential (Renault’s RS Diff being an electronic emulator), but there is launch control and the potential for 47.9mpg economy if you go nowhere near the former.