THE END OF AN ERA
Hi, it's Tanaka here again and this time around I would like to share with you my thoughts, living with my 'Renault Clio IV R.S 200 Lux' thus far.
A few weeks back, Renault announced they will be committing all their R.S. division labour to a new division dubbed Alpine. Alpine is pretty popular and known for giving us the A110 a few years back which went on to become an instant hit among petrolheads. In 2001 Renault stamped their greatness as the king of hot hatches with the legendary and iconic Clio V6, a rear wheel drive, rear mid-engine monster. An engine in the rear was a unique configuration in hatchbacks and the boys at the Renault Sport division seemed to have been let loose creatively and they did not disappoint. This set the ball rolling on future greatness with the Megane R.S which is known to be a great driver’s car.
But today we don’t want to be nostalgic, we want to look at the last hurrah that is the Clio IV R.S 200 Lux, an iteration of the last of the performance Clios to ever be made. Set to be the direct competitor to the Polo GTI, Renault took an unusual turn from their known DNA of R.S products.
The predecessor, the Clio 3 was a screaming naturally aspirated 2.0L machine churning 200PS. But with this new one, Renault took the forced induction route with a 1.6 turbo with the same power output. However, the biggest change was what was mated to the new engine. For the first time it came with an only option dual clutch transmission to many purists’ disappointment. It was such a bold move because amongst its peers, the Fiesta ST and 208 GTI, it was the only one with an auto box.
What's it like to drive?
Having lived with one for the last 6 months, it’s been a very interesting car. The 6 speed EDC in city conditions is very clunky at low speeds and seems to hold on to gears for too long which affects the fuel consumption figures to an extent. It’s not the most comfortable on bumpy roads either but I hear it is much better than the hardcore Trophy version. Each imperfection you will feel and you better have your chiropractor on speed dial.
There’s only one way to drive this car and that is with the Sport Mode on. It wants to be driven hard and it invites you to that event. Having driven it on a few mountain passes, wring its neck and it stays planted to the road as if on rails – a canyon carver of sorts. The gearbox comes to life and the shifts are slightly quicker too and the exhaust rumbles and pops and crackles on the overrun. Shift the gear knob into manual and you’ll feel like an F1 driver with the steering column mounted shift pedals (which actually are from the Nissan GTR). With a race mode option which turns the ESC off and essentially leaves you to your skill, the R.S Clio can truly come to life at the push of a button. Want a little bit of beans, there’s an option for the Trophy 220 and the R.S F1 18 both with 220bhp and 228bhp respectively. It’s hard to distinguish or feel that extra oomph beacuse the extra power is all at the top end of the rev range.
What's it like to live with?
Considering It’s very bumpy in the city and that can get old very quickly. The fuel consumption is dismal as well, a slight tap of the accelerator and it tends to just feed fuel to the engine on demand. It’s always ready to go and that can be frustrating when you just want to relax. But the upside is knowing that merging through traffic and overtaking are both effortless. It also slips under the radar as it is not as popular as the Polo GTI or Fiesta ST so it makes for the ultimate sleeper car too.
The interior leaves a lot to be desired. Having owned the Polo GTI myself, the difference in quality and features is darn clear. Apart from the body-hugging bucket seats, everything is lacking. No Apple Car Play or Android Auto, the graphics on the touchscreen are not as crisp, hard plastics everywhere to name a few.
It’s sad that we won’t be getting anymore R.S products but that’s where we are. Unless maybe Porsche makes strides with the advent of synthetic fuels, ICE may be on its way out and may become an experience reserved for the ultra-wealthy. I’m enjoying the car and wouldn’t trade it for anything else, except maybe a Megane R.S. I look forward to more miles and smiles and making the boys at BP and Shell richer with each gallon of fuel.
Till next time.