Ok, so it's a Clio. I get that. And I understand that the majority of people who gaze over the Capsicum Red body will not even give it a second look. After all, it's just another reasonably sporty-looking Clio like any other that wears the 172 or 182 title, right?
To judge the Trophy on looks alone is to do it a disservice. The real beauty of this car, and the potential enjoyment it can deliver, lies deep beneath the red paintwork. It's in the way it drives and the way it handles, the 'chuckability' and the sheer fun you can have whilst hustling along your favourite B-roads. Its these very reasons why the Trophy is held in such high regard and why this little French hot-hatch is so highly sought after.
Whilst similar in looks to other RenaultSport Clios of its age the Trophy is very much a limited edition model. Only 550 models were produced - 500 for the UK and 50 for Switzerland - and all of them wore the Capsicum Red paintwork. Had Renault France had more faith in the 182 Trophy then there may well have been a fair few more rolling off of the production line. As it turned out, Renault France decided that there wasn't a sufficient market for the 182 Trophy hence decided against producing models for release within their own territory. Whilst that decision may have been a mistake on the part of Renault's marketing department it was a decision that Trophy owners no doubt welcomed, helping to maintain exclusivity and the feeling that you actually had something special parked up in the garage.
Decals and Capsicum Red (727) paint help set the Clio 182 Trophy apart from the rest of the sporty Clio range.
In addition to the red '727' paintwork the sideskirts were adorned with a lacquered "Trophy" decal (should you ever wonder what it was you were looking at). However, the differences didn't end there and a few choice additions really helped make the car stand out from the pack. Perhaps the most notable of all the additions are the 'trick' Sachs race Engineering dampers. These dampers have a remote reservoir and allow a stiffer and thicker damper rod to be used.
But such desirable items do come with associated costs. There will come a time when the dampers need rebuilding and currently there are only a few places that can offer the service. It pays to look around come rebuild time as there may be better options available thanks to the generous nature, and engineering expertise, of existing owners within the Trophy-ownership community. Of course you can always buy brand new but at over £3,000 for the pair it's not always an option!
Whilst the 182 Trophy is never going to win any awards for creature comforts or interior luxury it does come equipped, as standard, with Recaro Trendline seats. On the base of the seats is positioned a plaque that proudly shows the number of the vehicle. Interestingly this is also the only known way by which a Trophy can be identified... A minor issue with the seats is that they are perhaps a little too 'high' and they can leave the driver sat in too high a driving position when behind the wheel.
The other additions to the Trophy are perhaps more subtle. The Trophy Speedline Turinis save approximately 1.3kg per corner and have a slightly different offset to those found on the Clio 172 Cup. The front hubs are also uprated items and the front suspension sits 10mm lower, too. Looking higher and rearwards the Trophy wears a spoiler that can also be seen on the Clio V6 255. It adds a nice and subtle finish to the look of the car but be prepared for cursing and a sore head! The spoiler actually restricts the distance the boot can open and the tailgate typically stops around about the height where your forehead is positioned as you lean in towards the boot space...
A quick look at the engine specs will tell you that it's not the fastest hot-hatch out there. But to simply be fast is not what this car is about. It's about what the car can do and how it feels as a complete package. It's not slow; a 1998cc 4-cylinder engine with an output of 182ps and 147lbft torque does provide that 'small car with a big engine' feel - especially when the car only weighs in at a touch over 1,000kg's.
As an owner of a 182 Trophy I could write many paragraphs saying how great a car it is and the good times I have had. Alas, my time for writing this brief article has come to an end. I would implore you to try and grab some time behind the wheel of a 182 Trophy. It's fun, it's addictive. And I'm pretty certain you'll at least begin to see why many motoring journals and journalists rate the humble 182 Trophy as one of the best hot-hatches ever produced.