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RPM TV Website | December 2, 2021

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Super Clio a concept for now – but production beckons

Super Clio a concept for now – but production beckons
Deon Schoeman

Ostensibly created to celebrate French auto maker Renault’s official return to Formula One (it took over the Lotus F1 team this year), the Clio RS 16 that made its debut at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix is being described as a concept – but we think it’s destined for actual production.

Reaction to the current Clio RenaultSport RS has been somewhat muted since that car made its debut just more than two years ago. Admittedly, it had big boots to fill – the previous-generation Clio RS was a real little flyer. But it’s the dual-clutch gearbox of the RS that’s emerged as its Achilles heel, blunting the car’s brio with its tardy responses.

The Clio RS 16 shoehorns the 2,0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine of the Mégane RS 275 Trophy R into the Clio’s engine bay, together with the bigger car’s gearbox and cooling system. A thoroughly reworked suspension allows the Clio to make full use of the extra urge, while a new Akrapovič exhaust systems means the ‘concept’ sounds the hard-core hatch part, too.

With 201 kW of muscle and a 360 Nm torque peak, the Clio’s performance potential is considerable, especially since the little hatchback is significantly lighter than the full-sized Mégane hatchback. Its 1 172 kg kerb mass translates into an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 172 kW/ton – although the RS 16 Concept is likely to be even lighter than the standard Clio RS.

But perhaps the most important facet of all is the return of the six-speed manual gearbox, which should add vital extra driver involvement to the little superhatch, while the suspension will have sacrificed some comfort and compliance for greater steering accuracy and tauter response.

Of course, the million Euro question is whether the Clio RS16 Concept is nothing more than a showcase for RenaultSport’s engineering prowess, or whether a production version is in the offing. While Renault isn’t confirming or denying anything, the Concept looks too production-ready to be dismissed as a once-off exhibition piece.

Instead, we’re pretty sure that a production version, possibly with a 195 kW version of the same drivetrain, will be confirmed at this year’s Paris Motor Show. Limited production and a substantial price premium over the standard car will make it both scarce and expensive in a South African context.

Even then, there won’t be any shortage of buyers if this concept does become a hot hatch reality …

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