The Clio V6 is the craziest production Renault ever
I've never wanted a Renault Clio so much!
What the heck was Renault thinking about? A 230 horsepower V6 in a Clio? This mad idea came to fruition in 2001 when the French automaker decided to mount their biggest engine in one of their smallest cars... centrally. It was not even for racing homologation purposes. No, it was just for fun. Even today, the Clio V6 makes little sense for a manufacturer that produces Espaces and Kadjars, and that's why it's just so darn fantastic.
If there's one nation that knows how to make quirky cars, it may well be France. In the 90s, Renault made some pretty crazy developments like the mad Espace F1 concept, and there were even some plans of putting a V10 in a Twingo. Unfortunately, these projects didn't make it into production. However, they still managed to launch one of the craziest hot hatches the world had ever seen.
Inspired by the iconic R5 Turbo from the '80s, Renault's initial idea was to have a more "masculine" Clio in their range. The conception was bold, and the French automaker immediately thought about equipping the little Clio with the 3.0 V6 ESL that you'd find in the executive Vel Satis. Moreover, they wanted the car to sit on a Renault Sport Spider chassis, but the idea was soon scrapped. Still, this was about the only concession Renault was ready to make.
When the project was greenlit in 1998, it was already too late for the engineers to start working on it. Indeed, a facelift would arrive between 2001 and 2002, so they needed to delegate the Clio V6 to someone else. That someone else was no other than TWR. Property of ex-racing driver Tom Walkinshaw, the man went from owning a Formula 1 team (Arrows) to developing cars like the Jaguar XJR-14, Nissan R390, Aston Martin DB7, and even the Volvo C70. TWR started to focus on the Clio V6 in July 1999, and about a year later, the first journalists were allowed to try the car, and things did not really go as expected. The first people to review it argued that the car was "too lively," unbalanced and that it was difficult to find its grip limits. That was not it, the Clio V6 was a very expensive little car that cost the equivalent of €36'500 in today's money. That's quite a lot for a Clio that basically had the same seats as a Clio 1.5 dCi.
When the boss of Renault Sport realized that the Clio V6 did not live up to Renault's expectations, they immediately cut ties with TWR, and only 1'631 cars were handed to customers. It wasn't really the British company's fault as they did not really have the knowledge, liberty, and time to develop the car properly.
However, Renault did not want to stop there. They went on to produce a second version of the Clio V6 in-house. The car was based on the facelifted Clio 2 but was now more powerful with 255 horsepower and had better driving dynamics. Everything was better, and they even got some help from Porsche to tweak the engine. Unfortunately, even less Phase 2 Clio V6s made it to customers (1'309 units), and Renault stopped making the pocket rocket after only 4 years of production.
The Clio V6 may not be the best hot hatch ever, but it may well be the craziest. The exterior is extremely wide compared to a regular Clio from this era. It even looks like a proper sports car with these side vents. Once you get in, it's all Clio again, nothing to see here. It's only once you turn the ignition on and hear the sound of that 3.0 V6 behind your back that you start realizing that you're not in your grandma's car. Don't we all want to see a modern reiteration getting made? I can pretty much assure you that it will never happen, and that's what just makes the Clio V6 so unique.
I would like to extend my gratitude to my friends from Private Car Collection. They have been nice enough to let us review their car. They have a pretty cool collection of cars that you can see on their Instagram account, or Facebook page. Without them, this article could have never been possible.
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Renault Clio V6