Everyone can relax, it’s a manual! New Renault Clio R.S. 16 concept unveiled

Published: 27 May 2016

► New Renaultsport Clio concept revealed
► 271bhp turbo four, six-speed manual gearbox
► Celebrates 40th anniversary of RS

Renaultsport is celebrating its 40th anniversary in style by cramming the powertrain from a Megane RS 275 Trophy-R into an RS Clio.

Yes, you read that right – the Megane’s 271bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and six-speed manual gearbox have been jimmied under the Clio’s bonnet.

Sounds like it could be a complete handful!

Fortunately, the ever-talented Renaultsport has done more than just shoehorn in a delightfully inappropriate powerplant into the small hatchback. For starters, upgrades include race-bred chassis modifications, suspension tweaks and 19-inch wheels.

The R.S 16’s adjustable dampers are lifted straight from the Trophy-R, while floating 350mm-diameter front discs and an upgraded braking system derived from the Megane’s Nurburgring pack serve up suitable stopping power.

Renault’s raided countless other parts bin for this project, too. The engine, transmission and cooling system are all lifted from the Trophy-R, while the suspension is assembled from adapted parts lifted from the Megane, Kangoo and Espace. 

Akrapovic stepped up once again to supply a suitable exhaust system, while the engineers worked to ensure the car’s ABS and stability systems functioned as expected.

‘The premise was to design an exclusively Renaultsport vehicle, fitted with the most powerful engine in the range,” explained Laurent Dore, manager of the prototype department. ‘The aim was perfectly clear, but the first difficulty concerned the lead-times, which were extremely tight.

‘We created a team made up of experts from Renaultsport Cars and Renaultsport Racing. This little ‘commando’ unit was managed by Maurizio Suppa, an engineer specialising in prototype design.‘

2016 Clio R.S. 16 concept

Looks pretty aggressive, too…

That’s in part thanks to the Clio’s bodywork being some 60mm wider. Renault had to fit composite flares, in order to clear the taller 19-in wheel and tyre combo.

Other cosmetic and aerodynamic tweaks include the fitment of a rear diffuser from the Clio Cup, a rear spoiler to boost downforce and a redesigned front splitter to improve cooling.

Completing the high-performance look are bucket seats and six-point safety belt. Renault’s also ditched the air-con and rear bench, cutting weight in an effort to improve the car’s handling and performance. No official word on the amount of weight shed, though…

2016 Clio R.S. 16 concept

Is it still front-wheel drive?

Oh yes – so 266lb ft will be surging with vigour through those front tyres. Given how well the regular RS Clio 200 Turbo and more powerful Meganes deal with their torque, however, we can’t imagine the R.S. 16 will be too unwieldy at full throttle.

How fast is it?

Renault hasn’t published any performance figures for the new concept but, given that we know how quick the Trophy-R is, you can expect it to perform as follows:

  • 0-62mph: sub-5.8sec
  • Top speed: 158mph+

Will I be able to see it at any point?

The Clio R.S. 16 was revealed ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, but it’ll be on display in the UK at the Goodwood Festival of Speed from 23-26 June.

More importantly, are they going to build it? 

It’s likely that the car will remain a concept for now, given its niche appeal. That said, a lot of parts used in the concept are already available and Renault has history with low-volume, high-performance editions – like the Trophy-R and Clio V6.

‘We all recalled the impact made by Clio V6,’ said RS managing director Patrice Ratti. ‘We wanted to create a technical concept car with extraordinary performance levels but which was more realistically priced.

‘Therefore, we had to keep our feet on the ground and use simple, ingenious solutions to achieve a vehicle that could be type-approved.’

Read CAR magazine’s Renault reviews here

2016 Clio R.S. 16 concept

By Lewis Kingston

Formerly of this parish. Inveterate car buyer and seller; currently owner of a '68 Charger project car