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Renault Clio RS 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
6

The Renault Clio already has a Tick, but this one is different. Instead of the base-model starter car, it’s the full-on Renault Sport pocket rocket.

The basics are same, from its four-door body to class-leading European safety score, but the mechanical package has had a significant tweak.

The engine is now an RS-tuned 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol, while the brakes, tyres and wheels are bigger, there is sports suspension and a six-speed double-clutch gearbox.

The car was great fun to punt around a racetrack

It sits at the top of the Clio line-up, as well as competing with a mixed bag of compact speedsters including the Fiat Abarth and Citroen DS3. These cars are popular choices in Europe, although not so much in Australia where V8s still rule.

It also doesn’t help that the Abarth is well into the $30,000 bracket and the DS costs at least $28,000. The Clio RS is also relatively costly, from $29,290, but it is good value and well priced when you look at cars such as the Ford Focus ST at close to $40,000 and the Clio’s big brother Megane RS from $44,000.

The Clio is officially called the 200, since it has 200 horsepower — that’s 149kW — to play with. It also has, more importantly, 240Nm of torque from around 200 revs.

I come to the RS after a first drive in Europe that was masked by heavy rain, although the car was great fun to punt around a racetrack. I’m expecting a lot, particularly because the Megane RS is so sharp and enjoyable.

There is way too much torque steer

At first, I like the car. It’s comfortable like the regular Clio, with a sharper edge, and a variety of engine and transmission settings that make it a great little sprinter. There’s a Race setting for extreme fun, but I avoid it for my road work.

And yet, and yet.

The longer I spend with the car, the more I find it is lacking. It’s good, make no mistake, but it’s missing the sharp edge of greatness I expect from a Renault Sport car.

There is way too much torque steer — the wheel tugs under acceleration and the front end gets wayward — the engine is strong but not focused, and the gearbox never really snaps the shifts the way I want.

Verdict

It’s swift, that’s for sure, and it also has those back doors for a little more practicality than its rivals. It’s also easier to drive than an Abarth, and not as floppy in the body as a DS3.

But I’m expecting a car that really cracks and this one does not. It is a nice step in the Renault range, which takes buyers from standard to GT and then on to the RS cars, but I’ve been spoiled by the Megane and I’m left a bit deflated.

I’m pulled back towards The Tick by the value, and a five-year warranty with $299 pricing for the first three years of servicing, but I’m not as happy with the fuel economy or the lack of even a space-saver spare.

In the end, the RS is not sharp enough for me, after the excellence of the Megane RS and the understated class of the basic Clio.

The Tick? Not this time.

Pricing Guides

$13,965
Based on 65 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,995
Highest Price
$21,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Authentique 0.9L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $8,995 – 8,999 2015 Renault Clio 2015 Authentique Pricing and Specs
Dynamique 1.2L, ULP, 6 SP AUTOMATED $10,999 – 13,995 2015 Renault Clio 2015 Dynamique Pricing and Specs
Expression 1.2L, ULP, 6 SP AUTOMATED $9,990 – 14,990 2015 Renault Clio 2015 Expression Pricing and Specs
Expression + 1.2L, ULP, 6 SP AUTOMATED $9,680 – 13,200 2015 Renault Clio 2015 Expression + Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6