FRENCH CUTIE TRES BON

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

I KNOW of a few top mo­tor­sport peo­ple who drive ex­otic ma­chines in com­pe­ti­tion, but their car of choice for pri­vate use is a Clio RS.

The lit­tle Re­nault hot­tie is one of the best-look­ing in its class and it's grad­u­ally evolved from a se­ri­ously quick hatch to a civilised, but still se­ri­ously quick hatch.

Yes, so­phis­ti­ca­tion and a bit of French flair has made the lat­est model a neater, qui­eter, bet­ter­look­ing and bet­ter equipped car, even though it now has a smaller en­gine.

Early Cliosports had a 2.0litre en­gine, the new one a 1.6 turbo, with hardly any dif­fer­ence in out­put.

The early ones grad­u­ally went from 127 through 134, 145 and fi­nally 147kW, which is ex­actly what the lat­est Clio RS200 puts out: 147kW and 240Nm.

The newie also gets a su­perb six-speed dual-clutch auto-like trans­mis­sion with pad­dle shift, re­plac­ing the man­ual in the ear­lier mod­els.

More than that, the tran­nie can be set to three dif­fer­ent modes – nor­mal, sport and race – and the driver can also se­lect launch con­trol for rapid get­aways on track days. The higher per­for­mance modes al­ter the steer­ing, throt­tle re­sponse, gearshifts and sta­bil­ity con­trol for a more in­volved drive; and there's an elec­tronic dif­fer­en­tial to min­imise wheel­spin if the driver over­cooks things a lit­tle.

Yet, it's a car en­tirely fea­si­ble for sub­ur­ban run­ning about.

Mum could go off to the su­per­mar­ket with it and drive it for years, never know­ing that it can eas­ily dou­ble as a very com­pe­tent track car for club events.

It's a smoothie, packed with all the stuff du jour like in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, Blue­tooth, auto-on lights and wipers, air­con, sat­nav and such like.

There are four mod­els in the RS range, all sim­i­larly pow­ered but with dif­fer­ent bits like bet­ter au­dio, dif­fer­ent wheels and trim.

It starts with the Sport at $29,490, goes to the Cup, as tested, which sells for $31,990, then there's the Sport Premium ($34,990) and Cup Premium at $37,490.

Only the Premium mod­els get re­vers­ing cam­eras. Pourquois?

We were pretty chuffed with our mid-spec Cup, which came with 18-inch al­loys, sports seats and steer­ing wheel, red stitch­ing on the black up­hol­stery, a tablet­style touch­screen and some red stitch­ing top dead cen­tre on the steer­ing wheel, which com­peti- tion driv­ers will be very happy with.

The lat­ter should also be happy with 6.7 sec­onds zero to 100km/h.

Driven nor­mally, the car drives smoothly and qui­etly and doesn't use much fuel. It's rated at 6.3litres/100km but that's un­der ideal con­di­tions that don't re­late to Perth traf­fic. We were de­lighted with our av­er­age 7.7litres /100km.

Lug­gage? Sure. The boot holds 300litres and can be ex­panded via the fold­ing back seats to 1146litres and ac­com­mo­da­tion is fine up front, a tad less so in the back.

ty too.

Tres bon! Big war­ran-

Re­nault's Clio RS200 is a real heart-stealer.

Ver­dict:

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