Since 2000, the successive variants of Clio Renaultsport have resulted in it becoming the most popular hot hatch of its class, with over 70,000 sold worldwide. The Renaultsport version of the best-selling Clio has been unanimously praised by enthusiastic owners as one of the market's best hot hatches, and also one of the most fun to drive. The challenge faced by the engineers from Renault Sport Technologies was to build on the existing qualities of Clio Renaultsport 197 and take its inherent strengths and dynamism to a new level.
Clio Renaultsport 200's performance credentials are evident in its exterior design. Its styling includes aerodynamic features inspired by Formula 1. These include an aerodynamic blade built into the front bumper and a rear diffuser. The latter is normally only found on high-end sports cars; air passing under the vehicle is channeled by the flat bottom to the diffuser, where it accelerates before being expelled at high speed. This creates a zone of depression under the car, sucking the chassis to the ground. Compared with a conventional wing, diffusers generate significant downforce without resisting forward movement. At 80mph, lift is reduced by almost 88 lb. The diffuser is designed to function with the rear flat bottom and leaves space for the exhaust muffler and tailpipes.
There are also extractor vents in the front fenders that contribute to the car's aerodynamic performance by neutralizing the turbulence produced by the wider fenders. They also facilitate the removal of hot air from under the bonnet, while the vents are angled to channel airflow along the sides of the car for enhanced performance. Thanks to these features, aerodynamic drag has been cut by 0.02 (compared to its predecessor) to 0.753.
Compared to the standard Clio, the fenders are 1.2" wider to accommodate the wider front and rear track, which has been extended by almost 2". The more aggressive front styling incorporates a large air intake, designed to feed cooling air to the normally aspirated 200hp 2.0 16v engine.
The sills, extractors and wider fenders highlight the performance credentials of Clio Renaultsport 200, which features Renaultsport's new styling cues in the form of the Renault i.d. Design Pack: a two-tone colour scheme based on a choice of Gloss Black or Anthracite finish for the front bumper centre section and blade, door mirror housings and rear diffuser. The diffuser incorporates twin exhaust tailpipes.
Clio Renaultsport 200 also sees the introduction of a new Alien green pearlescent paint finish. The pearlescent Liquid yellow also returns to this car after only being available previously on the limited edition Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27. Mercury is another new color, joining the Glacier white, Ultra red, Racing blue and the metallic Albi blue, Nimbus and Deep black.
The interior features details such as the aluminum pedals, as well as a perforated leather steering wheel. The unique Renaultsport seats are exceptionally comfortable and ensure a high level of lateral support. The new yellow rev-counter includes an audible and visible gearshift indicator to optimize gear changes. The size of the figures displayed on the rev-counter increases as the needle approaches the red zone.
Seats designed and developed with Recaro continue to be available. They are equipped with lateral airbags, plus a rigid, glass-fiber/polyamide shell which provides the enveloping experience associated with motorsport. The slots for the harnesses and integral headrest add a further sporty touch.
As with the previous generation, the Clio Renaultsport 200 benefits from significant changes compared to the standard version. The front and rear track are wider and the wheelbase is extended by 10mm for greater stability.The front suspension's independent steering axis layout is unique to the B segment. This technology reduces torque steer under acceleration. To minimize weight, the front suspension employs aluminum components and guarantees precise handling and outstanding traction whatever the conditions. The rear suspension is based on that of Clio 2009 and features a programmed deflection torsion beam, which has been uprated by 25%.
However, there will be an improvement in terms of comfort over its predecessor thanks to damper settings 15% softer than before and the use of double-effect dampers.
Meanwhile, body movement is kept in check thanks to the larger diameter front anti-roll bar. Specifically developed Continental Sport Contact 3 tires (215/45-17) ensure swifter, more precise steering response. The new design of the standard aluminum wheels is now 2.2 lb lighter and the ensuing gain in terms of unsprung weight contributes further to the new car's enhanced steering response and crisp acceleration.
New Clio Renaultsport 200 is also available with the Cup chassis, which has been engineered to deliver an exacting ride and uncompromising driving enjoyment. Its ability to corner flat is enhanced by 15% stiffer dampers compared to the Renaultsport 197. The springs have been uprated 27% at the front and 30% at the rear for even better handling.
The ride height remains 7mm lower than the standard chassis and the lower centre of gravity improves cornering performance thanks to reduced weight transfer.
Torsional rigidity has been improved by 10%, enabling the potential of the independent steering axis front suspension to be fully exploited.
Last but not least, the Cup chassis now comes with a higher-ratio steering rack (7.5% quicker than the standard chassis) which, combined with other specific development work, improves feedback to the driver in conditions of varying grip.
The Clio Renaultsport 200 Cup weighs 1204kg (2654 lb) boasting the best power-to-weight ratio in its class at 166hp per tonne.