Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy is fast, furious, FrenchIs Renault's latest hot hatch the king of the hill? Renault used to make the best small hot hatches out there, can the new Clio retain the crown?
[MUSIC] It's rare for a car company to admit it's made a mistake. It usually takes a weak order in lawsuits or something to encourage a change. Unless that car company is Renault. This is the Renault Clio, Renault Sport 220 Trophy EDC and it's sort of a mea culpa. [MUSIC] When Renault launched the Mclaren 200, they went with the decision to give it a smaller capacity turbo charged engine, and an automatic gear box. Also it came with no more power than the old naturally aspirated car, and barley anymore torque. Hardcore customers and the press weren't all that impressed. So, the bods in charge at Renault's force have tweaked the formula a little bit and come up with this: the Renault Cleo 220 Trophy. The fiddles are quite extensive. Powers up from 197 break horsepower to 217, torques up to 192 from 177, There's an added over boost function prop it up to 206 should you want it. That's thanks to a new turbo and software changes. The red line's been upped to 6,800 RPM in the first three gears, too. Total map's been adjusted to make it more urgent as well. [MUSIC] So, the Clio is now a faster car with more power, and it can be delivered with more aplomb, but what about the transmission? Well, one of the things that was leveraged against the older version of this car was the pedal travel was a bit too long, so that's been cut By a third and the gearbox has been mapped. So shifts are up to 50% quicker depending on what mode you're in. So in theory, this is faster can in all respects Now, being a [UNKNOWN] this will be chopping quick to steer. Those guys know how to make a fast car. The [UNKNOWN] 275 [UNKNOWN] I drove in 2014 was hilarious fun, and immensely accomplished. It was tactile, engaging, and rewarding. In the right hands, it could be a bit of a weapon. In my hands, an agent of fun. The Clio has all the tools to be no slouch either. Reni Sport wanted to make sure that the Clio was still comfy but had better corner balance, better steering feel, less roll, more oversteer and much more besides. To that end, the front rides 20mm lower, the rear rides 10mm lower. The rear suspension has been fiddled with and it is now 40% The steering has been settled, as have the dampers. Neat. That means it's a bit stiffer, rolls less, and according to Renault, better. Once all those changes have been thrown into a bowl, and mixed around a bit, you get a car that's three seconds quicker around Renault's test track than the normal Clio 200. A 146 mile an hour top speed, a 6.6 second nought to 62 sprint, and an MPG figure of 47.9. [MUSIC] So in all this should be a decidedly unrubbish car then. So, let's get to it. The chassis is I mean, the handling on this is just lovely. The steering feels great. There's loads of feedback. You can place the care really easily. You know what kind of road surface you're going over. It feels lovely and you can hustle this thing around some corners at some serious speed. Throttle response is again excellent. The brakes Are fantastic, they stop this thing on a sixpence. There's great feel, great progression to them as well. It makes the steering and wind throttle response. You can balance the car really nicely through the bends and cut a really quick line. It feels fantastic, it does put a grin on your face. And you really get to know that Renault Sport engineers aren't stupid. They know what they're doing. And it's pretty quick. 0-60, 6.6, top speed on the fun side of 140. It's a very rapid car, but it doesn't feel that quick. [MUSIC] [INAUDIBLE] Interacting with it. Either the wheel's too big or the paddles are too short, because to get to them you have to really claw your hand around them. I don't have the smallest hands. They're not the biggest ones either. But you have to really claw your hand. But when you do pull a paddle, well it's just kind of vague. It's like squeezing an orange and not getting much back. It's Not very pleasant. The gearbox itself, it works okay, it's not spectacular, it's not the best in the world by any means and it's also not the worst. But with a lack of engagement, I just can't bring myself to love it. It doesn't help make the car feel alive. The old Renault sport Clio's were fantastic things. They were so engaging. The gearbox was a big part of that. And I'm not just moaning because oh, it's got an auto and I really like manuals. This particular gearbox just doesn't lend itself to the car. They don't merge properly and as such you do lose something. You lose some of the Renault sport magic And as a result the car itself as an experience just isn't up there the car that preceded this was truly fantastic buzzy little thing. [BLANK_AUDIO] This feels a little bit hemmed in. There's extra in there, but you just can't play with it. This car has the potential to be absolutely super [INAUDIBLE] brilliant and this is the fix to make that just a little bit better. It's the fix to sort out what was wrong with the 200. But it's just not quite there. I really wanted to love this car. The last generation one was amazing. Oh, it was so good, it was so rewarding. It made all the right noises, it felt right in all the right places. And this very occasionally, you take it around the corner and it feels great, because it just grips and grips and grips and grips and grips. But then you go to reach for the paddle, and then the whole experience is kind of ruined. It's like, oh, I need to change up a gear! [SOUND] Okay, I'll change down a gear. [SOUND] It changes quick enough, but the process just isn't pleasant. [MUSIC] This car has so much going for it, it's just a shame it doesn't quite hit the mark. The 220 Trophy is a special edition car. Each is numbered. It is not a limited edition so you needn't rush out to secure yours right this second. There will be a fair few rental sport purists who want to see the quick clear back to its former glory. The older cars were fantastic, buzzy, quick and proper So in want of a better word, is this? Not this time. Really, it's the transmission that lets it down. It has its moments of brilliance, but there's not really enough drama there. And there's not really enough engagement. Where it can grip round the corner is [UNKNOWN], but Be able to [UNKNOWN] a bit, you know, what? There just isn't enough noise. You don't get enough [UNKNOWN] back from it either. The previous [UNKNOWN] were fantastic little cars. They were the ones that you'd buy when you want a weekend or track date toy that can also do a shopping run. This just, I don't think it matches them just yet. [SOUND] [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO]