Right. Renault Clio Williams, what's that?
It's possibly the epitome of the 1990s hot hatch- a beefed-up, race-ready variant of the humble Renault Clio, named after the Formula 1 team which with the backing of Renault, were a staple of the F1 standings during the 1980s and 1990s. Naturally, to capitalise on that success, Renault decided to release a road car, so they handed over a first-generation Clio to their Renaultsport division (not Williams) to give the admittedly underwhelming Clio a set of muscles, and in doing so created one of the finest hot hatchbacks ever, so much so that it was given the privilege of being F1's safety car in 1996. Not bad for a little French hatchback.
Sounds great- what was changed?
Well, with the Clio Williams, the changes started on the outside first. Williams models were muscled up, with brawnier, chunky styling to make the car stanced and wider, a lower ride height, all topped off with a burly, wide air intake swallowing up the bonnet. The reasons for all these modifications wasn't simply to make the car look better- a serious amount of new kit was crammed under the new skin. A whole new uprated and tougher suspension from the Clio Cup now nestled inside it, attached to those now-iconic gold alloys. However, the biggest-and best improvement was the engine. A 2.0 litre block now nestled under the bonnet, fiddled with by Renaultsport's finest boffins to produce a cool 148bhp, which made the Clio Williams a right little rocket compared to its rivals.
Looks like a blast! What could it do?
With a near 150 brake horsepower now crammed inside it, and with better handling and a better gearbox, the Clio Williams now became a very capable car. Top speed increased to 134 mph, which put it ahead of the definitive hot hatch of the decade- the Peugeot 205 GTi. While a capacity increase from 1.8 litres to 2.0 litres doesn't sound all that impressive, the Clio Williams' weight was only 981 kg (quite light for a performance hatch) which made the driving experience even more enjoyable, which was important when the time came to take the Clio Williams racing, in which even more power was added (166 bhp) and a more heavy-duty exhaust system, made it a blast on the rally course during the 1990s.
Brilliant- was it popular?
Absolutely- it's become somewhat of a legend! When the Clio Williams was introduced back in 1993, it was intended to be part of a limited run of 3,800, as the road car was only meant for homologation into the rally series. However, when the cars finally hit tarmac, they sold out so quickly that Renault decided to grab the bull by the horns, and ended up building 1600 more of the dark blue wonders-and that was just the first series of cars! After the first series of Clios, Renault built another two runs of the cars, with a combined total of 12,000 cars built from the last two series!
All images from Newspress, they're great ones, aren't they?
Right, how about that classic status now?
Well, as it is such a desirable car, the prices have been steadily rising, but prices for a later example-from the Series 2 and 3-are still relatively low due to how many were produced of the series. However, for the original Series 1 examples, the prices have risen above the £20,000 mark, with little sign of stopping, which is fair for such an iconic hot hatch, a true hot hatchback legend.
And that's a wrap! Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it. Cheers, and I'll see you in the next article!