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Car reviews - Renault - Clio - Renault Sport 200 Gordini Edition

Our Opinion

We like
Stylish seats, responsiveness, engine noise, steering, brakes
Room for improvement
Relatively modest performance, blue wheels

1 Nov 2010

IT IS easy to fall in love with the Renault Clio Gordini even before you get behind the evocative blue and black leather steering wheel.

Nostalgia is what strikes first, because this car represents the latest (and first 21st century) expression of a theme dating back more than 40 years, when the Renault R8 Gordini established something of a giant-killer reputation and provided a halo effect for shopping versions.

The Clio Renault Sport Gordini 200 Special Edition, to give it its full name, should play a similar role, building on the Clio Sport’s already strong record. The ‘200’ refers to the approximate brake horsepower output, which translates here to 147.5kW.

Only about 40 Clio Gordinis will come into Australia, all painted a colour that Renault oddly enough calls ‘Malta Blue’ rather than ‘French Racing Blue’.

Priced at $39,140, it comes with stylish black seats with blue inserts, all in leather, the aforementioned steering wheel with a blue upper section and twin white stripes to mark the straight-ahead position at the top and red Brembo callipers that grip large disc rotors (vented 312mm up front, solid 300mm down back).

The 17x7.5-inch BeBop alloy wheels in polished aluminium with metallic blue inserts are almost too blue and the watermarked white stripes would look better just plain white. But the blue leather gearknob and the white tachometer are just great fun.

The familiar 2.0-litre engine produces its 147.5kW at 7100rpm and 215Nm of torque at a sky-high 5400rpm, which necessitates exceptionally low overall gearing. In sixth gear at 80 km/h it is already pulling almost 2500rpm.

Although GoAuto did not sample the Gordini Edition on the road, it was a blast at the Broadford race circuit.

Comparing and contrasting the Clio with its Megane counterpart was to reflect on the depth of Renault’s involvement in motorsport-influenced road cars. The two feel unmistakably like Renaults, yet are very different from one other.

While the Megane Renault Sport 250 indicated 170km/h on the straights, we could only get to about 155km/h (right near the end of fourth gear) in the Clio. Then, turning right up the steepish hill off the main straight in third (second being way too low), the forward thrust was modest compared with the Megane, which just wanted to get on with it.

Yet the little car was probably more fun. It is so extraordinarily responsive to every input – lift-off mid-corner and it oversteers but is instantly correctable – and it makes the most fantastic noise. The steering is as alive as an old Porsche 911’s, conveying every nuance of the racetrack’s surface and the brakes work magnificently.

The go-kart analogy is overworked, but if you drive the Clio Gordini it’s hard to find a more appropriate description. We wore this car like a race suit. It makes for an even more connected feeling than with the bigger and faster Megane Renault Sport 250.

Feeling rather lighter than its faintly surprising 1281 kilograms, the Clio Gordini has a zero to 100km/h time of 6.9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 225 km/h, which is achieved at the redline.

This would certainly be a busy little car to take on a long open-road drive at the legal limit, but it would still be great fun. You kind of expect a hot hatch in this idiom to be a bit frantic.

You could never get bored with such a lovable blue jewel.

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