We don’t even know where to set the focal point for the start of this chapter: should it be the engine, a powerplant that rewards you for every rpm you ask it to perform, or the chassis, which possesses a level of balance that would make a ballet dance cry.
We can’t help but open the tiny bonnet of the car and kick this chapter off with the 100 hp+ per liter powerplant. We have to start that the engine block is the same one Renault has been using for its hot hatches since the Clio Williams.
However, the 1,998cc 82.7 mm bore - 93 mm stroke unit has come a long way since then, moving from 147 hp at 6,100 rpm & 175 Nm at 4,500 rpm to 203 hp at 7,100 rpm and 215 Nm at 5,400 rpm.
The facelift received in 2010 brought an extra 3 hp and made 20 percent more torque available at lower revs. This was achieved as Renault introduced a new cylinder head, continuously variable intake valve timing and a fresh ECU map.
The first three gear ratios of the six-speed have also been shortened, but the car offers a top speed of 225 km/h (139.75 mph), which sits 10 km/h (6.2 mph) higher than that of the pre-revamp model. In addition to this, Renault Sport claims that the new ECU map also reduces fuel consumption by 0.7 liters per 100 km and lowers CO2 emissions by 14 grams per km. As for the bits in between the gears, the manual is so precise that it seems to swallow the shifter into gear once you approach it.
As for the bits in between the engine and the wheels, we have to tell you that the Clio RS chassis comes with wider front and rear tracks compared to the standard Clio, while the wheelbase has also been slightly increased. In addition to that, the revamp also brought additional valves in the dampers, which offer greater comfort, while the anti-roll bars have been thickened.
You can choose between a “Sport” chassis, which aims to offer a compromise between ride and handling, and a “Cup” one, which favors the latter. While we drove the standard one, the Cup comes with a 7 mm (0.27 inches) lower ride height, increased damper ratings (an extra 27 percent at the front and 30 percent at the rear). In addition to that, on the Cup, the overall torsional rigidity has been increased by 10 percent, while the steering comes with a closer ratio.
The aluminum-gifted front suspension uses what Renault calls an “independent steering axis layout”, which, together with the CSV electronic limited slip differential wannabe make you forget about understeer. The latter is a system that can't be deactivated, even when the ESP is put to sleep, but it manages to do a goob job, even though it doesn't offer the trust given by a proper, mechanical LSD.Continue reading