Renault Clio RS Gordini – Youth serum
- 01 December 2011
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Every year men and women around the world spend billions of dollars on serums, creams, injections, surgeries and a myriad other things all in an attempt to slow the inevitable passing of time. Frankly all of that money is being wasted as Renault offer a much cheaper way to turn back the clock and allow you to relive your youth. The revolutionary product goes by the name of the Clio RS Gordini and comes with a, comparatively, bargain price of roughly €28,000 but you have to act soon as it will not be around for too much longer.
For years the RenaultSport Clio has been the bar that all hot supermini’s have been gauged against. Over the years the likes of the MINI Cooper S, Citroen DS3 Racing and VW Polo GTI have come close to offering the thrills offered by the unlikely hot hatch but all have fallen short. The intoxicating mix of a 2.0-litre, 200bhp engine and a razor sharp chassis has seen off all pretenders to the crown and the RS Clio is still placed on a pedestal by fans of hot hatches. While most other manufacturers have bowed to sentimental pressures and fitted smaller, turbocharged powerplants Renault has stayed true to the design it helped to mould. Bereft of forced-induction the Clio relies on good old fashioned engine tuning like improved breathing, hotter cams and a peak power point deep into the rev range. To access the Clio’s full two hundred rampant French horses and the 215Nm of torque that they are backed up by requires the kind of nerve and perseverance that is rarely required outside of a supercar. By the time you hit 5,000 rpm the engine is only really getting going but already you are approaching licence losing speed, the noise coming from the twin exhausts is enough to scare children and there is a smile on your face unseen since you were a young and carefree seventeen year old.
And that is without experiencing the Clio RS’s true appeal. If the speed is impressive the way the car handles is even more so. Through a whole load of clever engineering that I am not going to get into here the Clio retains something that is missing from most modern hot hatches, sports coupes, performance saloons and even some supercars and that is ‘feel’. It is difficult to quantify ‘feel’ – explain it to somebody who has never experienced a truly communicative car. In its simplest form it is the messages you receive from the road via mainly the steering wheel but also your backside. You may be able to see the corner ahead tightening at its apex or the camber changing just before turn in but you can feel the natural flow of the road and the grip available to you as you scythe through the bend with the ease and aplomb of a Formula 1 champion.
And because of the feel and inherent grip offered by the chassis the Clio RS is not just a point and squirt hot hatch. You don’t power into a corner, brake hard and then wait for the corner to open up again before mashing your right foot into the carpet and setting off in pursuit of the next bend. Instead you ease of slightly to scrub some speed, feather the throttle through the bend, make minute adjustments to tighten your line away from a fresh pothole all the while prodding the loud pedal that little bit more with your big toe until the apex. It is almost as if you are driving in slow motion such is the adjustability you have mid-corner – just don’t stand on the brake at this point. The Brembo callipers up front are so strong they could have pulled up the Titanic but they also pitch the whole car forward under hard braking, lightening the rear end of the car and inducing oversteer – this is not a car for the inexperienced.
But that is not to say it is hardcore – in fact in Gordini spec it really is the perfect compromise. You have all the things that make the Clio RS such a great car but you also have a full leather interior, cruise control, Bluetooth, air conditioning, the best stereo Renault could lay its hands on and controls mounted behind the steering wheel with which to control it. It really is the epitome of what a hot hatch should be – a sports car for when the mood takes you but a comfortable cruiser for when you just want to get home – cruising at motorway speed the engine is running at a near silent 3,000prm in sixth gear – but you will have to hurry to get your hands on it. The latest emission and environmental rules from the EU mean free-revving, naturally aspirated engines will soon be a thing of the past and the rumours are that RenaultSport is working on a turbocharged 1.6 for the next generation of this car. Get it while you can and turn back the clock every time you start the engine!