But on track it was a different story. Even with the gearbox in Race mode, I just couldn’t get on with it. The paddles didn’t feel right, the ratios didn’t seem well spaced, and the software within the gearbox conspired to do things that blunted performance rather than aiding it.
Last night I had the chance to meet Philippe Klein, Renault’s chief product planner and a man who had a key say in the RS Clio’s change of direction. He smiled when I asked him the ‘why?’ question, no doubt it being one he’s fielded a lot these past 12 months.
“We don’t have any figures yet on how well it has gone down as it’s still too early,” he said. “But certainly we’ve had a lot of discussion about it internally and have had very different opinions on it.
“Some people say it is not radical enough to be a Renaultsport Clio, with the DCT and the front suspension. Yes, it’s changed from the classic application but it remains in the sports environment.
“Some, not all, have changed their minds after extensively driving it. Some still find it too easy. It’s a matter of tastes. Our objective is not to forget the people who like the radical approach, but we want to please more customers.”
Here’s the important bit. “We will review it and can review it in the future,” said Klein. Don’t expect the manual to return, but it sounds like there’s a desire somewhere within Renault to give the RS Clio its hard edge back, be it through chassis changes or tweaking the ratios, logic etc of the gearbox, or even the feel of the paddles themselves.
I don’t think I’m banging a lone drum here in saying this can only be a good thing for what is (or should that be 'was' or 'could be'?) one of the most alluring performance cars out there at any price point.