2010 Clio R.S 200
When manufacturers concentrate on what matters
With a light cloud wrapping a thin veil over the sunlight on a spring morning there are all different types of metal a motoring enthusiast would wish to swing their body behind the wheel of. None are likely to give you quite such an exhilarating on-road experience without spending supercar money as the Clio R.S 200. This could be challenged by many turbo-powered, slick changing modern super hatches, but the truth of the matter is simple, there is more to the thrill than outright speed, and the rampant chase of the redline makes this car addictive with its ratios that let you sprint up the revs rather than relent from them. The Porsche Cayman 4.0 suffers when equipped with a manual gearbox due to the long gearing. The fast and balanced coupe never really able to show its hand because unless you enjoy the clinking sound of a jail cell the only gears it is possible of seeing out are first and second, which becomes exhausting and disturbs a flowing road as the big cog has a desperate desire to be switched away from sending you into second gear and illegal speeds as you reach for third. The Clio asks more, if you want to travel fast you better have your peddling boots ready as you’ll be busy with both legs and both arms to really enjoy this car.
Motoring is a sport that is participated sat down and because of this the athletic challenge is almost entirely forgotten. It’s why manufacturers have decided that customers must be inherently lazy and want automotive gearboxes and unholy amounts of horsepower. The Clio remedies this lost thought, asking you to decide what sort of drive you will get from behind the wheel. The drive in the R.S begins will a steady cruise toward some more welcoming roads leaving a driver to do little but hum for entertainment as the car’s focus for the road isn’t really suited to city streets. The wheels yearn for country lanes, the suspension embarrassed to see speed humps and wide smooth roads. Once they begin turning along undulating tarmac the communication that felt too direct in the city has become a smooth mix of information and damping. It’s the engine and shifter that really open up though. In a world of fat torque curves and mushy manual gearbox’s that feel like an afterthought because the paddle shift will gulp up the majority of sales, the Clio has a notchy feel that gives better direction. Travel within the box is too far. A short shifter would be a beneficial modification but it doesn’t spoil the experience. Revving out the gears gives more and then more up to the 7,000 rpm red zone. Ask the Clio to attack a corner and it has a nature to respond, unencumbered by a belly line too wide for a swimmer it moves with athleticism. Push too hard and limits can be found but you’ve got to want to find the edges of the car’s abilities to really discover them. Steering feel from the wheel is direct enough, a sense of the last tenth missing never really escapes the car which would be unforgivable if it had worn a price tag above twenty grand brand new, but is accepted because Renault has done such a great job of the whole package whilst keeping the price manageable.
These cars are something of a used bargain today, many are over a decade old and so finding one that has been taken care of would take precedent over mileage or the odd bodywork blemish. The repair bill for an abused example will take a strong stomach when so little is required to buy one in the first place. There were a few options on the Clio to be ticked, these include the Cup package and Recaro seats that are much firmer and body hugging than the standard perches. There were also some special editions such as the Gordini. Overall finding one that is well kept and preferably with a cup package should be top of the list, the aftermarket has a selection of goodies for those wanting lighter wheels, tighter seats, and breather modifications to the engine. A standard one will do you fine but those that are buying for the occasional track day may want to search around at the laundry list of bits that can be bought in the aftermarket and budget them into a purchase. The Clio isn’t an especially light car for its size and so upgraded brake pads would be a suggestion for track days.