When it comes to small and fast, Renault’s history extends far beyond this and the previous Renaultsport Clio.

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

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
A manual gearbox and more feelsome steering would improve the Clio considerably

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.

Top 5 Hot Hatches

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Seat Leon ST Cupra 2.0 TSI 4Drive 300PS DSG
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    Seat's fastest Leon ST is fun to drive quickly and has enough space for all the family, but VW's own Golf R Estate is even better to drive
  • Porsche 911 GT3 manual 2017 review
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    The new 911 GT3 is an excellent machine; does the addition of a manual gearbox make it even better?
  • Skoda Karoq
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    The Yeti has morphed into the Karoq for its second generation, and this early drive reveals a solid, practical small SUV that could challenge the class best
  • Opel Ampera-e
    First Drive
    27 April 2017
    Opel's second-generation Ampera is smaller than the first, and now purely electric. It's also very capable with a remarkable range
  • Lotus Elise Sprint
    First Drive
    27 April 2017
    The latest incarnation of the Elise may be out of its depth on track, but on the public road it is probably the purest version since the original