Renault: 2015 Clio R.S. Cup

Renault: 2015 Clio R.S. Cup

When the locally-owned Renault distributor brought back the Clio Authentique and Expression light hatchbacks back to the New Zealand market, we knew that it wouldn’t be long before the more sporting Clio R.S. model also made an entrance.

2015 Clio RS Cup front onBoy what an entrance it made, not one, not two but four Clio R.S. models are available for New Zealand Renault fans to choose from. All are sporting five-door hatchbacks but ranging in flavour from a mild buttered chicken curry, to a hotter lamb madras, and a fiery Beef vindaloo.

For the non curry eaters amongst you, that’s warm, hotter, and Judas-Priest!

There is an entry level Clio R.S. Sport which kicks off the price list at $42,990, followed by the Clio R.S. Cup as tested at $45,990, the Clio R.S. Monaco Limited Edition at $45,990, 2015 Clio RS Cup side onand the top of the range Clio R.S. Trophy at $49,990.

The R.S. Sport version offers the most comfortable ride thanks to its smaller wheel and tyre combination, the R.S. Cup version as pictured here, which we had on test for a week offers a bigger wheel and tyre combo as well as more firmly sprung ‘Cup’ suspension package.

2015 Clio RS Cup rear 3:4And if the R.S. Cup isn’t hot enough or stiff enough for your liking, then there is the Trophy with more power and a suspension package that will truly rattle your fillings!

Power

All four Clio R.S. variants are powered by a direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine matched to a six-speed dual clutch automated transmission, with paddle shifters on the steering wheel column for manual changes 2015 Clio RS Cup enginewhen required.

The Sport and the Cup versions have the same 147kW/240Nm engine while the Trophy offers 164kW/280Nm thanks to a larger turbocharger combined with revised engine mapping and a revised intake and exhaust system. Sacre Bleu…

Frankly the 147kW Cup had more than enough get up and go, and the R.S. drive button on the console by the handbrake allowed us to choose between three driving modes, being normal, sport and race. The R.S. Cup also has a launch control 2015 Clio RS Cup RS Drive buttonsystem which allows you to enjoy a sportier take off from those pesky traffic flow lights which are installed on motorway on ramps.

To further ensure that the front wheels won’t loose traction – an electronic limited slip differential is fitted to the Clio R.S. Cup.

Spec

The Clio R.S. Cup is differentiated from the Clio R.S. Sport by 2015 Clio RS Cup carbon cloth upholsteryits gloss black 18-inch Radicale alloy wheels with red front and rear brake callipers, and asymmetrical tyres.

I’m not normally a fan of glossy black wheels, but the 18-inch Radicale alloys do contrast nicely with the red metallic paint of the Clio R.S. Cup, and they also tie in neatly with the F1 style blade fitted to the front bumper and the rear diffuser with dual chrome rectangular exhaust.

Standard features include automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, hands free entry and push button start, 2015 Clio RS Cup gear selectorLED daytime running lights, privacy glass on the rear windows and tailgate, Renault media navigation systems with a 7 inch touchscreen, cruise control with speed limiter, bluetooth phone pairing with audio streaming and a four-speaker Arkamys audio system with fingertip controls.

Interestingly the air-conditioning is a manually controlled system rather than climate controlled, but this is an option on Cup models if required.

The glossy black door mirrors will fold electrically and the 2015 Clio RS Cup 7 inch touchscreenmirror glass has a very useful defrost function.

Rear parking sensors with a rear view camera are an extra cost option as well for the Cup and Sport models, and frankly at this price point, it is a little bit disappointing that it’s not provided as a standard feature.

Inside

Both the Clio R.S. Cup and the Clio R.S. Sport models feature Renault Sport dark carbon cloth upholstery with red stitching 2015 Clio RS Cup soft touch dashboardand the R.S. logo embroidered on the face of the headrests. The RS Cup is also available with dark carbon leather upholstery with red stitching as an extra cost option.

There are many Renault Sport elements visible throughout the cabin to remind you this not the usual bread and butter Clio hatch.

There’s a leather wrapped R.S. steering wheel and gear lever, a soft-touch carbon black dashboard with red inserts and satin red trim around the console. Even the door sills have R.S. branded kick plates which fulfil a practical function, as well as looking stylish.

Even the carpet mats are edged with red piping which adds a splash of colour to what would otherwise be a very dark and nondescript part of the cabin. Alloy pedals with rubber grip studs complete the sporty theme.

For a supermini sized car the Clio R.S. Cup has a decent boot, with the rear seats in situ there is 300 litres of space, no doubt assisted by the fact that there is no spare wheel, just an inflator kit is provided.

Even more importantly, given that this is a five-door hatchback and is likely to be a second car for some owners, there are three child seat anchorage points in the rear-seats.

Experience

It never ceases to surprise me how the touch of a button can change the character of a car.

Normal mode as provided by the R.S. Drive button feels as though the handbrake has been left on, the car feels a bit lacklustre and the steering is overly light. For city commuting in heavy traffic this is fine most of the time, although the car was very reluctant to change up on occasion, and I found myself overriding the gearbox using the flappy paddles.

Sport mode livens things up considerably, and Race mode is just that, best used on a circuit such as Taupo or Hampton Downs for track day use only.

For the majority of my time with the Clio R.S Cup, I engaged the Sport mode which provided a bit more oomph and a heavier steering feel but allowed the car to mix it up in the cut and thrust of Auckland traffic. Sport mode really does come into its own, on a nice winding road such as Scenic Drive in West Auckland or the road through the Hunua ranges south of Auckland.

While its not as razor sharp or thrilling as the Ford Fiesta ST which is the current King of the hot supermini hatches, the Clio RS Cup is still great fun to drive and you can throw it around a corner, safe in the knowledge that it will stick to the road.

Ride quality is also very good despite being fitted with the firmer Cup suspension, and in true Renault Sport fashion, the faster the velocity, the more comfortable the ride. Though when pottering around town, the usual lumps and bumps of city tarmac didn’t seem to upset the car much and there was very little noise, vibration, and harshness transmitted into the cabin.

Verdict

The Clio RS Cup is a well built, and reasonably well equipped car for the price tag. It’s a more practical option for Kiwis than the three-door manual only Ford Fiesta ST or the three-door manual only Peugeot 208 GTi.

It’s well known that three-door manual hatchbacks have a very small market appeal in New Zealand, a fact I am sure that the Renault importer is fully cognisant of.

You can buy a new five-door Volkswagen Polo GTI but it too is only available with a manual transmission currently.

The beauty of the Clio R.S. Cup is that its far more likely to appeal to a far wider Kiwi audience because of its five-door body and dual clutch transmission, yet it still retains the pleasingly-quick performance and nimble handling inherent of the Renault Sport brand.

And its also got that little bit of French finesse and character to boot.

Price: $45,990

Pros:

  • Fast, family friendly supermini
  • Good boot space
  • Good ride and handling package

Cons:

  • No standard rear parking sensors or camera
  • Climate air is optional not standard
  • Normal mode feels sluggardly

Words:

Pictures: Robert Barry / Renault Australia media portal

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