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RenaultSport Clio V6: Back behind the wheel

3 years ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


27 February 2021

Twenty years ago I got quite annoyed. Shortly thereafter I got quite scared as a result of which a day or two later I became quite vindictive. That’s the process a few of us went through when we first drove the original Renault Clio V6. Because before all that I’d been really rather excited. For here was a mid-engined hatchback, developed by Tom Walkinshaw Racing with a 3-litre V6 engine driving the rear wheels alone. And it looked amazing. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Almost everything, as it turned out. At first I thought its biggest problem was that it was so heavy it was scarcely any quicker than the standard, 300kg-lighter Clio 172. That did 0-62mph in 6.7sec compared to the V6’s 6.2sec. Now bear in mind the enormous traction advantage conferred upon the latter by having an engine designed for a luxury Laguna over the rear wheels and you can see that without that there’d be nothing between them.

Turns out that was just where its problems started. The real issue was that it was a menace to drive. People always bang on about early Porsche 911s as being the trickiest road cars to drive on the limit, but in my experience they’re not even close. A Ferrari 348 is worse than that and worse than the 348 was that Clio. These are the only two cars I have taken somewhere private with the sole and simple intention of seeing if I could drift them without spinning them. And in both cases I failed. But the Renault was worse than the Ferrari, because the 348 did at least steer nicely as it mugged you.

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