The Clio Renaultsport Cup is the third Clio to receive the ‘Cup’ moniker. Following in the wheel tracks and skidmarks of the deeply entertaining Clio II 172 Cup and 182 Cup, the Clio Renaultsport 197 Cup features the same suspension set-up as the limited edition Clio 197 R27, taller 5th and 6th gear ratios and optional air conditioning.
So, it’s identical to the Renault Clio 197 F1 Team R27 then?
Pretty much. The suspension tweaks are the same, which means stiffer springs (27 percent at the front and 30 percent at the rear) and stiffer dampers (by 10 percent). The ride height drop of 7mm is also identical to the R27.
However, the R27 didn’t feature the much-needed taller 5th and 6th gear ratios (raised from 16.1mph/1000rpm to 17.1 in 5th and from 18.9mph/1000rpm to 20.5 in 6th) – a tweak that is now standard on the ‘normal’ Clio Renaultsport 197.
I see that white is the new black?
Yep, and that’s no bad thing as far as we’re concerned. The Clio Cup, especially in white (an option), looks fabulous matched to the satin black Speedline wheels – again an option.
And if you’re thinking there’s a theme developing here, you’re right. All the cool stuff (white paint, satin Speedlines, even the excellent lightweight Renaultsport Recaro seats) are options. To us, the Clio isn’t a ‘Cup’ unless these items are fitted as standard. It’s a pity they’re not.
Click 'Next' below to read more of our Renault Clio Cup first drive
So, we’re talking a lightweight special, right?
Wrong. The Clio Cup weighs 1240kg – identical to the standard 197. Option the £850 seats and you’ll save a few kilos, but you’ll put the weight back on if you tick the air-con box (another £550 – but essential). This means the Cup is around 35kg heavier than a Mini Cooper S.
However, the Clio Cup feels lithe and agile on the road. The lower centre of gravity delivers massive grip and stability and the damping is never harsh despite being 10 percent stiffer. In fact, find an uneven and cambered B-road and the Clio’s clever double-axis strut suspension magically absorbs and parries the worst of the bumps, as if reading the road ahead and pre-empting the surface condition. The downside is that the Cup feels a little too planted for those experienced drivers who could use a little more movement from the rear to aid turn-in.
Any more downsides?
Yep - the Clio’s steering is woeful. The electronic rack over-assists at low speeds and delivers a vague artificial weighting at higher speeds. Most noticeable during the most crucial part of the steering process (turn-in), the Clio’s overall lack of feel and linearity comes close – very close – to undoing all the good work carried out by the chassis.
Click 'Next' below to read our verdict on the Renault Clio Cup
And the engine?
There's lots of top-end punch, but it's not particularly nice to listen to. And it doesn’t have the off/on camshift character of a Type-R, but it goes pretty hard with a 6.9 second 0-62mph sprint that shouldn’t be sniffed at. The comparative lack of torque (158lb/ft) means you work the gearbox pretty hard but it’s a sweet, precise shift with a short lever travel. The Brembos deserve a mention too; you can brake impossibly late in the Cup.
The Clio Cup is a cracking car, but there’s an enemy within – the Cup’s biggest rival is the standard Clio 197.
For an extra £1000 the ‘normal’ Clio 197 has the same engine and brakes, a higher-quality dash, steering reach adjustment, drilled pedals, cruise control, tinted windows, keyless entry, air-con, electric mirrors and curtain airbags.
Spec the ‘Cup’ suspension (£400), glacier white paint (£150), black Speedline wheels (£175) and Recaros (£850) and you’re looking at a total of £17,570.
A white Clio Cup with black Speedlines, Recaros and air-con costs £16,695. Which means as good as the Cup is, in reality an optioned 197 is the better deal – especially when you consider the effect the lack of standard-fit goodies will have on the Cup’s residuals.
Would you have a Renault Clio Cup over a regualr 197? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say