If the Clio Williams I reviewed was a paragon of sensibility, this is the complete opposite.
Rather than merely giving more power to a Clio, what Renault did with this is took the engine out altogether, got a 3-litre V6 and put it in…the back.
It would help to say that nothing like it had ever been seen…but of course, it had. Because Renault had done it 20 years before with the 5 Turbo.
Whilst that actually went rallying though, this Clio V6 did no such thing. It just went about being the maddest hot hatch yet seen. And by the time this Phase 2 model had replaced the original, it was the most powerful hot hatch in the world. Incredible considering the base Clio isn’t even a full size hot hatch.
But of course it should be quite unlike any hot hatch to drive. I mean, you wouldn’t see anything like this in the modern age…although Renault has put the Twingo’s engine in the rear now so maybe they’ll do something with that instead.
The V6 sounds just as menacing as you’d expect, so there’s nothing wrong with the soundtrack. And as it produces 251bhp, it’s about as fast as you could reasonably expect it to be in a straight line.
But the real reason you’d take this car is for that mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive experience you wouldn’t get in a hot hatch, through the corners. And here…it’s not what you’d expect.
Through slow corners, it has quite a lot of understeer. This isn’t a surprise in itself – many a rear-wheel-driver still has understeer, and you just use the throttle to get it through the bends instead. Except this remains resolutely planted no matter what you do, which means that actually you really struggle in turns like these. Which is a shame.
That said, through faster corners it goes like a rocket. In fact the only thing that really fazes it is quick changes of direction, which will get it to slide sometimes. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t like this, for whatever reason. Every time I got the back end out of line, instead of staying still once I’d got it back, it just refused to stop and kept on going until I’d spun it. Very annoying.
The Clio V6 is a very odd car to work out. Chiefly this is because it doesn’t offer anything you’d reasonably expect from anything with its engine in the middle. And it’s probably not that bad a car, but only in some specific situations. Because judging by this drive, the faster you go in it, the faster it goes.
Therefore it’ll probably be happiest on whatever course has the fastest corners in it overall. Sadly every course I know here always has a slow one in balance, and there…well the Clio is rather doomed. So while the car itself is certainly likeable, it’s also rather limited in its capabilities. If you know what they are, it’ll be great.