A Clio fest of speed and style

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A drive in the new French sport demon, the Renault Clio RS Trophy on Bain’s Kloof Pass, gives Travel Torque’s Melinda Ferguson a fuel injection for days.

When asked what his favourite car was, American auto designer Carroll Shelby famously said: “The next one.”

I am often asked the same thing. Living the high-flying life of a motoring journo, moving from Bentleys, to the latest AMG Merc or high-powered Beamer, it’s impossible to choose. But I got a definite surge of favouritism a few weeks back when I experienced the new Renault Clio RS, back to back with its younger sibling, the Clio GT-Line.

It’s no secret that Renault Sport (RS) division has had a formidable track record by way of hot hatchbacks over the years. Bring on the new Clio RS Trophy – a feisty 1.6-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol engine speedster that I recently got to clutch my heart in, on one of the Cape’s most challenging stretches of roads, Bain’s Kloof Pass. This 18km hairpin rollercoaster is nothing short of an engineering masterpiece, designed and constructed by Scotsman Andrew Geddes Bain in 1854.

Rating: 5 stars

A speedster’s dream, it lies on the R301 between Wellington and Ceres, and reaches 594 meters of altitude at its highest point.

Clutching the leather sport steering of the top of the range RS Trophy, kitted out with high-performance Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, a hardcore sporty chassis, an Akrapovic exhaust and 320mm ventilated disc brakes, the hair-raising pass was an adrenaline rush from start to finish. If anything the suspension in the Trophy was a tad hard for my untuned back so it was with some relief that I made the journey back in the somewhat more sedate Clio RS Lux. Both the RS models visually differ from the straight Clios by way of 17-inch alloys on the Lux and 18-inches on the Trophy, along with sporty bumpers, prominent exhaust tips and the RS logo-styled lights. The Lux gets a sports chassis, while the Trophy sits lower and has a much stiffer racing trophy chassis.

They both share one engine and a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, with the Lux emitting 147kW of power and 250Nm torque while the Trophy boasts 162kW and 250Nm, but if that’s not enough there’s an overboost function that will increase torque output to 280Nm.

If all those figures make you dizzy, in plain speak when it comes to speed, the RS Trophy is of course the quicker of the two, leaping to 100km in 6.6 seconds with a top speed of 235km/h. Fuel consumption at a more leisurely pace is claimed at 5.9litres/100km.

There’s a whole bag of tricks offered standard in both, including: onboard sat nav via a seven-inch touchscreen, cruise control with speed limiter, rain sensors, the iconic Renault hands-free card key, safety systems like ABS, EBD and emergency brake assist (EBA), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation) active traction control, ensuring the RS remains stable along tricky road conditions. Thankfully there are also driver and passenger head and chest front and side airbags.

Price:

Clio GT Line: R264 900

Clio RS 200 EDC Lux: R379 900

Clio RS 220 EDC Trophy: R419 900

For a less speed-obsessed experience, the hot middle brother of the RS, the Clio GT-Line is next up from the entry level Clio Dynamique. Equally gorgeous in looks as the RS, with a pair of killer front sporty seats and leather steering wheel, the GT-Line is somewhat less evil on the speed dial, moving from 0-100kms in nine seconds. I swear it feels faster. But this is no middle sibling slouch. With its 1.2-litre turbocharged engine offering 88kW and 190Nm of torque, the GT Line is nimble with impressive suspension. It’s a perfect headturning city drive with adequate boot space of 300 litres and good leg room for rear passengers.

But ultimately, if I had to pick a favourite, it was the RS Trophy, with its growling, churlish Akrapovic exhaust that managed to get inside my veins. When I returned home to a more sedate life, I found myself energised for days. Adrenaline is an amazing thing. Magnifique.


Melinda Ferguson
Motoring journalist
City Press
p:0117139001
w:www.citypress.co.za  e: melindafergusonwriter@gmail.com
      
 
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