Say ‘Renault’ and, as a right-thinking Ti reader, you probably picture a brightly-coloured Clio or Megane blasting along a country road, cocking an inside rear wheel as it carves through another apex. Sadly, RenaultSport is no more and, apart from the Clio and electric Zoe, the French company’s model range is made up entirely of crossovers and SUVs. C’est la vie.
It’s worth reflecting on RenaultSport’s record, as the division produced some of the finest hot hatchbacks ever made: the Megane R26.R, Clio 200 Cup and Megane RS Trophy-R to name a few. Granted, the mid-engined Clio V6 (see review below) was more divisive, but the cars that sprang from Les Ulis, near Paris, were never dull.
Don’t give up hope, though. For starters, the baton of sporting Renaults has now passed to Alpine, which has a hot version of the forthcoming Renault 5 in the works: the fully electric A290. And Renault has a history of innovation that stretches far beyond hot hatches, including trailblazers such as the 4CV, Espace, Twingo and Twizy.
Perhaps the most radical Renault of all was the Avantime, a one-box, three-door MPV that looked like a concept car with number plates. Ti contributor David Twohig explains why it was ‘Almost Great’ in his article below. Let’s hope Renault is equally brave in the future, albeit with rather more commercial success as its reward.