Okay.. this car is fun!
So why am I sat in the middle of Norwich (Prince of Wales Road) grinning from ear to ear? ITS BECAUSE I'VE BEEN LET LOOSE IN A RENAULT CLIO SPORT 197!! Hahahaaaa!! Engine purring in neutral - waiting for the lights to turn 'green' so I can manoeuvre this car around the ring road in search of fuel.
Well my first impression is it sounds good! I'm not sure of the modifications - didn't stop to ask - I prefer to get in a car and test it with little knowledge of spec/power/add ons so that my time driving isn't biased by the knowledge a car has been tuned, or has 'xxx' Induction Kit fitted etc. I am especially fond of the neat spoiler on the back - it adds character and sets it apart from the lower models in the Clio range.
First stop - Tesco Garage for some Momentum 99RON. I did hold a poll some months ago debating whether Shell V Power or Tesco Momentum was best, and after testing I prefer using Tesco Momentum in my cars. Shell V Power is a good petrol, but I notice 1-2 degrees of knock correction whenever I fill up with it. Petrol Turbo engines are fine with Shell V Power (Stage 1), but a highly tuned n/a engine needs as high RON as I can find. Personally I am sticking to Tesco Momentum 99RON, which is a shame, because I'll lose the points/free fuel vouchers, but every time I use V Power its a disappointment. Enough of my rambling -> lets talk about the car!
Out of the box it isn't a shabby car by any means. It is clean, modern, doesn't have the 'common' look that the Ford Focus ST (225hp) has. I would be perfectly fine getting in and out of this car every day and driving about. While I still love the original Phase 1 Clio Sport, and the Phase 2 variants - something about this model is just BETTER. It is roomier - the interior is a million times better than its predecessor. To be completely honest I'm pretty won over with this and will be borrowing this car again before deciding whether I should buy one (as a daily runaround).
Nice and tight - no silly body roll, just what I expect from Renault. I still remember my J-Reg Clio Sport 1.8 16v when I was younger. It was the model under the Clio Williams, and I loved it to bits! I throw these cars at bends and they seem to giggle for more! Probably not the best invitation but its an addiction and I love how well balanced this thing is.
Oh yes! Look at those lines! Renault have done some serious thinking when drawing this car. I'm under the assumption they came up with this yummy creation first, then made it simpler for the basic models.. Not sure on that, but this is the BEST looking Clio I've ever seen. Ever. Look at those vents at the front! Its tidy spoiler for a dab more downforce. I think its one of the best looking hot hatches on sale today, and this is a 2007 model that still looks immaculate to my eye!
Hmmm.. On initial pull off its fine, feels good, doesn't do any silly spluttering or hesitation when I'm driving in line with traffic. When I first put my foot to the floor I was like erm.. huh?
It was really bad through the RPM range, but this isn't a low revving car, and was designed to have its neck wrung like a chicken! So the second time I gave it some beans I went through a 30mph into 40mph, and smashed my foot to the floor when I saw the National Speed Limit sign (heading towards Salhouse, if you know Norfolk Roads). Oh yes.. wake up it does wake up when you get it over 4500-5000RPM. Unlike the Honda Civic Type R, my eyes were 'pinned' to the road at 100% throttle, which means the car is picking up pace, and I need to concentrate. Sadly I didn't get that from the Honda Civic Type R but have another Civic to test soon that might change my mind (remapped/Kpro III). I had another blast from 1st, 2nd, into 3rd gear and I am impressed with the standard power in this little Clio. I likey!
This car has had the Catalytic Converter removed. I wasn't aware of this when I collected the car, and the owner explained it causes a bit of a flat spot when removed. I will be tuning this car in the next couple of weeks (road tuning, not Rolling Road) and will work to make the car smoother lower down the RPM range with a wee bit more power up top! It did make a little 'pop' and 'burble' when I pulled away in 1st gear, but the sound isn't too loud or obtrusive.
Finally - this is a great Sports Hatchback. There's plenty of boot space for shopping, rear seat space (which I'd use for carrying my laptop/tools), front cabin is wide and luxurious in comparison to the older model. I like. I like. I even think 'I want' ;-) which is naughty, because I know I couldn't control myself when presented with a nice corner or bend. I really wouldn't mind taking this home. Win!
Nicholas Lawrence //ON CARS