Renault Clio Renaultsport Cup
Monday 15 December 2008
Ten Point Test
Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 82%
The Renault Clio Renaultsport Cup is a lighter, faster and cheaper version of the excellent Renault Clio 197 hot hatch.
It’s one of the ultimate giant-killers – able to run rings around many cars of twice the price – and it’s ideally suited to British roads.
1. Looks 9/10
We loved the combination of white body and black wheels worn by our test car. It looks like a pre-season racing car waiting for sponsorship decals, with its hunkered down stance and touring car inspired alloy wheels. Flared wheelarches and a rear bumper diffuser complete the subtle differences which make this car stand out against the normal Clio.
2. Looks inside 7/10
This is a car aimed at driving purists, and part of the performance-boosting weight saving has come from ditching the normal dashboard and slotting in one from the entry-level Clio. It’s not quite as good looking, and the plastics are cheaper, but it’s still not a bad place to spend time. Awesome Recaro seats (optional) raise the atmosphere no end, and there are some hot hatch design touches like funky dial graphics and a metallic gear knob.
3. Practicality 8/10
Hot hatches aren’t just popular in the UK because they suit our roads – they suit many people’s lifestyle too. Sportscar performance with everyday usability is a powerful draw. The boot is the same 288-litres as the standard Clio, while the rear seats fold to offer more than 1,000-litres storage space.
It’s a bit of a scramble to get in the back (via the front doors), but there is plenty of room for two adults. The switch to the basic dashboard does mean the steering loses the reach adjustability found in the standard Clio Renaultsport 197.
4. Ride and Handling 10/10
The Clio Cup is the benchmark car in the hot supermini class, with inspirational handling. The Cup chassis settings are firmer than fitted to the standard Clio Renaultsport 197, but don’t ruin its ride.
Understeer (where the nose washes wide of the corner) is almost non-existent on the road, and it’s possible to carry amazing speed through corners. To really experience the limits of this great handling you need to be on track, where the Clio Cup will harass far more exotic machinery in corners – even if it can’t keep up on the straights.
The gearshift is slick and changes have a pleasant weight to them, and the brakes are full of feedback and powerful.
5. Performance 9/10
The 2-litre petrol engine produces 194bhp and 159lb/ft of pulling power and accelerates from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds before reaching a top speed of 139mph. There is little faster machinery available for the money.
Driven back to back with turbocharged competitors including the Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Mini Cooper S the Clio doesn’t feel as fast as it does on paper though. The reason is its power delivery – maximum power arrives at a heady 7,250rpm and maximum torque is on tap at 5,550rpm.
The speed is there, but you have to work harder and hold each gear for longer to get at it. Do so and you are rewarded with a great rasp from the engine and impressive, if not neck-straining acceleration.
Just beware – this is not aimed at motorway cruisers. Despite the addition of a longer sixth gear than before, the engine is still working hard at 70mph and isn’t hugely relaxing.
6. Running Costs 6/10
The Clio Cup will only appeal to a certain kind of motorist, but we still found its fuel consumption (33.2mpg combined) and emissions of 199g/km disappointing for such a small car. To put things in perspective, the 3.6-litre Porsche 911 Carrera S only uses slightly more fuel (29.4mpg combined) despite having 341bhp and a top speed of 180mph.
A 211bhp Mini John Cooper Works can achieve 40mpg while emitting 165g/km.
But, the Clio Cup is fantastic value to buy, and represents a huge motoring bargain in this sense. Its list price is £14,995 and discounts aren’t too hard to find.
7. Reliability 7/10
Renault is working hard on improving the reliability of its new models, but the company is still ranked behind the likes of Ford, Renault and Volkswagen in the Reliability Index. The Clio Cup we drove felt well built and featured high quality components.
8. Safety 9/10
Renault has an excellent safety record and the Clio Cup scored five-stars in EuroNCAP crash testing. Six airbags are standard, as are seatbelt pretensioners and ISOFIX child seat mounting points. ABS and ESP help prevent skids.
The incredible handling and brakes also provide great active safety – giving the driver enhanced ability to avoid collisions.
9. Equipment 7/10
In a world of bloated spec sheets, the Clio Cup is refreshingly simple. The Cup chassis is the most notable addition of course, but other equipment includes a leather steering wheel, trip computer, CD radio with steering column controls, 17-inch alloy wheels, Thatcham category 2 alarm and doors which lock at more than 5mph.
10. X-Factor 10/10
Yes, it’s the handling which really stands out. This isn’t just a hatchback with stiff springs and big wheels thrown into the mix; it has been engineered with real integrity. The way the car behaves on a great road has more in common with exotic sports cars than its small price tag would ever suggest.
Model tested: Renault Clio Renaultsport Cup
On the road price: £14,995
Date tested: December 2008
Road tester: Andy Goodwin