The first and last time we drove a Renault Clio was to pass our driving licenses.

Indeed, in Europe and especially in France, the Clio is the most common car in driving schools. It was a Clio 3 1.5 dCi : nothing fun, probably even the opposite. The stern eye and the fierce smile of the examiner, the softness of the direction and the anemia of the engine, were a real nightmare for us (apprentice petrolheads). Unfortunately, we had to spend at least 20 hours in this driving school car.

Several years later, licenses in hand, we go back to give another chance to the Renault Clio. Just add two magical letters and it becomes a Renault Clio RS.

As you probably know, RS is for Renault Sport. The competition department of the French automaker is in charge to transform this driving school car into a real track killer, usable on a daily basis. Quite a big challenge!

No white paint, additional mirrors, plastic hubcaps or double pedals in the R.S. 18 version that Renault kindly lent us for its very first press test.

To Renault Clio, and beyond!

Instead it comes with a terrific deep black livery, enhanced by touches of yellow on the front bumper and the sills, tonal black logos and beautiful 18 inches rims.

To be honest, we have never been big fans of the Clio 4 design. First of all, we can see 30 Clio per minute in France, therefore, novelty surprise disappears quickly, then because the previous versions (RS included) were sold in flashy colors that did not meet its sports promises.

This version R.S. 18 played the card of sobriety, bravo. The black highlights its shape, makes it more aggressive and exclusive and the yellow underlines its sporting temperament. Even the painted logos, makes it different compared to the others 29 Clio Diesel that passed down in the street while you read these few lines. However, they put a big RS sticker on the roof… In our opinion it is probably a bit too much, thanks god you have to be at least 1m80 to notice it.

R.S for Renault Sport

Long story short, the RS 18 is a Clio RS Trophy with a special livery to celebrate the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Aboard this small hatchback car, it feels good, no wood beaded seat cushion, but leather bucket seats (yes they are not really bucket, they hold well but are a bit soft) and red stitching! Why red? Everything is black and yellow on this car, except the top stitching. The answer is pretty easy : because it was already like that in the Trophy version.

Fasten your seatbelt and start the engine, we will go right at the intersection whispers the driving instructor. Pedal to the metal, the automatic gearbox has a double clutch retrograde itself when we accelerate (if you are a little lazy with the automatic mode)! Ideal to pick up a few tenth out of the curves on the way back from work. It also knows how to behave in town and be very discreet and flexible to satisfy the instructor and help you deal with traffic.

In regular mode, the car is very versatile, friendly and quite comfortable for the segment (Hallelujah!). Hard to say that a little monster is hidden below, you can barely hear the sound stifled by the breath of the turbo escaping the exhaust.

We leave the monitor at the side of the road and press the RS button … launch control, the car roars, skates slightly and flies from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.6 secondes: the car is transfigured! First thing that pops to the ears, the sound! The Akrapovic exhaust (aaah we had not notified you yet?) is free and starts a back flames concert. Enough to impress the monitor stayed on the side of road, the sound of his Clio is much less cool. It may sound childish but when you taste it is difficult to do without it (and return to normal mode). At the end of the day the only mode has to be the RS one.

The only downside in this orchestra is the turbo. On the 1.6L engine, it is still very strong and can sometimes spoil the sound of the exhaust, especially during downshifting. Not to mention the consumption that flies … but hey it is part of the game.

Stiffened suspensions and direction (rare enough to be noted, we love it) pushes us to get up at high RPMs. And that is where the car becomes really interesting and fun to drive.

It asks to be challenged. The double clutch is doing its job well, gears change quickly even if the fixed shifters are a little small to shift well out of a bend. The excellent chassis could probably support a little more power for even more fun. The engine is “only” 220cv actually.

Can’t wait to put it on track!

#FuntoDrive score :   85/100

Because it is a very versatile little rocket but it needs to be challenged to be really fun. You live in a big city? You want to blend in? You want to burn rubber without burning your savings? And take revenge on your driving-school? Answered yes to one of the above : it is the car you need.

Kid’s score :   61/100

Our teenager spent the whole test drive on the back seat.
And she said “it does the job, but it is not the most comfortable either”.

We will let you discover them in our “Clio R.S. 18” story at the top of our Instagram profile.

Most importantly keep it #FuntoDrive.

 

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Renault Clio strikes back : from dCi to RS 18

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