Renault's latest Trophy hunter
The new-generation RenualtSport Clio was, to put it mildly, something of a disappointment, writes William Scholes.
It might have gained a turbocharged engine, double-clutch gearbox and five doors but it also lost the effervescence and focus that made the old naturally-aspirated three-door car such a hoot.
Renault has taken note of the criticism and delivered this rejoinder: called the 220 Trophy, the hottest Clio gains more power, a faster-changing gearbox and chassis modifications to put it back on the top step of the hot hatch podium.
Or at least that's what Renault says. We will have to drive it to find out for sure; until then, here are the highlights.
1. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine gets a 10 per cent power boost, with 217bhp now available. A larger turbo, new mapping and freer-breathing air intake and exhaust make the difference. Torque jumps to 192lb/ft with an even headier 207lb/ft available through a 'torque boost' feature in fourth and fifth gears. The rev limit has been raised to 6,800rpm from 6,500rpm.
2. Top speed is now rated at 146mph, with 0-62mph taking 6.6 seconds. The EU combined fuel consumption - for what it is worth - is 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions are 135g/km.
3. The automatic 'efficient dual clutch' gearbox has been recalibrated to give 50 per cent faster shifts. The travel of the steering wheel paddles is now 30 per cent shorter. A launch control feature is available amid normal, sport and race settings.
4. The Trophy chassis brings suspension that is firmer and lower, to the tune of 20mm at the front and 10mm at the back. The rear springs are 40 per cent stiffer and have motorsport-spec hydraulic bump stops.
5. The steering is more direct and RenaultSport claims it is the "best system on the market".
6. The 220 Trophy costs £21,780, though you will probably want to specify the £1,600 sports seats... The frost white matt paintwork of the car in the pictures costs a hefty £1,300. The 'standard' Clio RenaultSport 200 model has also gained some engine tweaks, and costs £19,130, or £20,280 for the 'lux' version.