Chris Nixon tests the new sports version of Renault’s Clio.

This sports version of Renault’s Clio light car retains the endearing chic looks while adding a lively performance package. The little but lusty turbo engine is mated to standard six-speed, dual-clutch auto transmission with fingertip shift paddles.

A suite of electronics including, lordy – launch control, keep the Clio in check. A data monitor displays dynamic performance including cornering G-forces, which can be uploaded with a USB stick to a website, saved, analysed and shared with fellow owners in a virtual driving environment.

In real-world driving, the Clio R.S. is a hoot, bolting away from traffic lights and darting around bends in true hot-hatch style but without the traditional ride discomfort. It’s well equipped too, with navigation and a great audio system.

Specs

  • $29,290 plus on-road
  • 5-door hatchback
  • 1.6 litre turbo petrol engine
  • 147kW, 240Nm

For:
Performance, handling, features

Against:
Satin-red cabin highlights a matter of taste

Verdict:
Cheap thrills for young racers