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Paris show: Renault turbocharges RS Clio

Big shift: The daring new RS Clio hot hatch will get turbo power and an automatic transmission for the first time when it hits the market in 2013.

Renault unveils new turbocharged, dual-clutch automatic RS Clio 200 Turbo


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28 Sep 2012

RENAULT has announced a major re-think on its RS Clio hot hatch, with the next-generation pocket rocket to come exclusively with a turbocharged engine and dual-clutch automatic transmission from launch in early 2013.

The RenaultSport Clio 200 Turbo was officially revealed at the Paris motor show this week alongside the rest of the fourth-generation Clio range, and marks a bold move away from the high-revving non-turbo engine and manual gearbox combination used in previous versions.

As with the rest of the daring new Gen 4 Clio range, the RS will also be available exclusively as a five-door – with the rear doorhandles hidden in the C-pillar like an Alfa Romeo – instead of the current model’s three-door bodystyle.

The switch to a downsized engine/dual-clutch drivetrain will help Renault meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations, with the new model claimed to use around 25 per cent less fuel than its predecessor while producing even more power and torque.

Renault’s approach mirrors that of the Volkswagen Group, with both the Polo GTI and Skoda Fabia RS models available with small turbo engines matched solely to slick-shifting dual-clutch transmissions.

Nevertheless, RenaultSport’s managing director Patrice Ratti says the new RS Clio will be an even sharper tool than its lauded predecessors, not only maintaining its position as a hot hatch yardstick but taking the driving experience to “a new level”.

The RS Clio is a lock for local release – probably towards the end of 2013, several months behind the rest of the Clio range – considering Australia is close to becoming RenaultSport’s second-largest market globally.

The new direct-injection 1.6-litre turbo engine sends 149kW of power (developed at 6000rpm) through the front wheels, compared with 147kW at 7200rpm for the current model’s naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre unit.

Torque output increases by 25Nm to 240Nm, and thanks to the turbo is available across a wider part of the rev range (between 1750 and 5600rpm) than the current engine, which peaks at 5400rpm.

The EDC (efficient double clutch) transmission changes gears in as little as 150 milliseconds when set to ‘race’ mode, and has paddle shifters mounted on the the steering column – a Renault first.

All up, the Clio RS will have three driving modes – normal, sport and race – each of which modifies the engine and transmission mapping, ESC settings, steering feeling and throttle response.

Renault won’t release performance figures until early next year, but expect the new model to match or slightly better the current model’s 6.9 second 0-100km/h sprint time. Wiping this speed off will be larger 320mm front disc brakes – 8mm larger in diameter than the old units.

RS additions to the normal Clio’s funky exterior include a Formula One-style front blade and a new diffuser and spoiler that respectively add 80 per cent and 20 per cent more downforce.

The production car will also come with a unique grille and rear spoiler, more aggressive front and rear bumpers, LED daytime running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels – blacked-out 18s will be an option – and dual tailpipes promised to add a “sporty sound signature”.

The cabin gets red highlights on the gear shifter, doors and seatbelts, drilled aluminium pedals, grippier sports bucket seats and a comprehensive list of equipment including touch-screen navigation – spelling the end to the sparse RS cabins of yesteryear.

As before, RenaultSport will offer the hottest Clio with two levels of chassis tune – standard Sport or track-oriented Cup, the latter of which has 15 per cent stiffer spring setting and a 5mm lower ride height.

The RS Clio 200 Turbo will be built in Dieppe, France, home to the legendary Alpine brand which, as we have reported, is being considered for a resurrection by owner Renault (see separate story).

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