What is it?
Remember, the Renault Clio RS16 is a concept car, built to celebrate Renault Sport’s 40th anniversary, and the Renault Sport management are unsure whether they’re going to build a limited production run.
Yep, they’re just still mulling it over, thinking money, while taking good care of the concept car. Just a concept. That’s why this RS16, a bit more than a Renault Clio RS with a Megane RS 275 engine, has had all the important engineering work done so that it didn’t make its debut on a motor show stand, but in full motion before the Monaco Grand Prix, driven at pace by Kevin Magnussen.
That’s why it made its way to the Goodwood Festival of Speed a few weeks after that, where, again, it was driven, at speed, up the Goodwood hill climb, rather than sitting on Renault’s stand like a good concept should.
That’s why there’s another RS16, a black car with the same mechanical underpinnings, being used as a development hack.
And that’s why they said we could make our way to northern France, to a quiet little test track they use a lot, called the Circuit Des Ecuyers, and drive the concept, as fast as we liked, without a chaperone. Because, of course, it’s a concept car. Because we’re just still quietly thinking about the money side of things, okay? Okay.
If Renault Sport doesn’t build this car, I will be astonished. We could build a limited production run, Renault Sport boss Patrice Ratti admits. So how many would you need to sell, Patrice, to make it worthwhile? “It depends...” When will you make a decision on it? “There’s no timescale…” Move along. Nothing to see here.
Alright. I’ll play along because there are, in truth still two issues to be decided: both hinging, in a way, about money.
The first is whether enough people want a 271bhp Clio RS with a manual gearbox. The first limited-edition Megane RS hatch, the R26.R, flopped. It was brilliant, but arrived just as the world’s finances crashed and the UK, a big market for mega-entertaining hatches, which had originally said it could sell 250 cars, eventually took fewer than 175.