My first article in my 'Best of Europe' idea for a series did OK yesterday so I'll write a couple more. I'd like to gauge interest so if you could let me know what you think of these either by a comment or a click of the star if you're pressed for time (depending on your opinions of course) then I can decide whether or not to keep going on this or try something new. I've also tagged the articles with 'Best of Europe' for ease of finding. This then carries on from my first article I did yesterday on the Ginetta G40R.
Regarded as one of the finest hot hatchbacks ever produced, the 2009 edition of the Renault Sport Clio is one special car. It's powered by a sweet sounding normally aspirated 2.0l engine generating 197bhp. Furthermore, this edition of the Clio pushed most of the motoring press into an absolute frenzy of gushing upon its release. CAR Magazine called it 'the 911 GT3 of hot hatches', and the normally composed Chris Harris went even further saying 'If I had to take the essence of a car with me to my grave I'd probably have this thing crushed up'. Big praise indeed then.
The last of the Renault Sport Clio's with a manual gearbox option, Renault targeted buyers who enjoyed track days by offering this car with the 'Cup Chassis' option. What you got for that £400 option was a ride harder than a whore's heart. Over the standard setup on the Clio, the Cup had 27% stiffer springs at the front and 30% stiffer springs at the back. The anti-roll bar was also made stiffer and the ride height was dropped slightly. This often meant that anybody you gave a lift too found this car too harsh and uncomfortable. But if you were the type of driver who liked to drive the absolute hell out of a car; this was a superb option choice.
So by ticking that Cup Chassis option box you got a car with a little bit of track setup that you could use as an everyday run of the mill car. Being a Clio it had sensible space and seating, and a decent boot for shopping. But when you weren't running errands for the family in it you could take it to your favourite B-road or track and have the time of your life. It was a car that seemed to have so much fun physically engineered into it. The engineers back at Renault Sport really delivered on building a relatively inexpensive car with a serious level of performance and an ability to make your face ache through perma-grinning.
Now, with the next generation Clio having lost its way a little, this edition out of all the Renault Sport models is arguably the best of the lot (the 182 Trophy might have something to say about that) and is actually now a very inexpensive car to buy. £9,000 will get you one of these now with around 20-40k miles on the clock. Stretch your budget to £12-13k and you'll get one with around 10k miles on it. That's essentially a new one of these, despite being 4-5 years old. When you look at what other options you've got on the market it begins to look like quite a good package. This is a very fast, very sharp and actually rather sensible everyday car if you can tolerate a hard ride.With an expected MPG of 30 and all the practicality of a standard Clio you can make a case to your special lady for buying it too.
As quick as you need and as much of a corner-killer as a lot of high-end, high-priced performance cars; the Renault Sport Clio 200 with that mean little Cup Chassis is a little scalpel of a car capable of taking apart far bigger rivals who dare to take it on. You can really make those snobby people in expensive cars look desperately silly with one of these underneath you. If you're ever in Europe and you get the chance; get out and drive one of these. See what all the fuss is about. Concluding with another quote from Chris Harris; 'If you can't find fun in this car, you're probably not a car enthusiast.'. That hits it on the head. Fun was engineered into this machine, and fun is what we all want from time to time when we pick up those keys.