Renault's fourth-generation Clio is gearing up for a slated reveal at the September 2012 Paris motor show, and CAR's spies look to have papped the hottest of the bunch - the new RenaultSport Clio 4.
Is this really the new RS Clio?
The clues certainly point to this being a camouflaged tester for Renault's latest pocket rocket. The front grille sports a prominent but slim 'front wing' not dissimilar to that seen on the current RS Clio and Megane.
Meanwhile, the headlights, and upper grille featuring chunky Renault badge, display the soon-to-be-familiar face of the new range, as debuted on the Dezir concept car. Other clues this could indeed be the RenaultSport model come in the shape of meaty-looking brakes behind the stylish alloys, and a twin-exhaust set-up in the rear apron, bookending a diffuser-moulded bumper, as per the current RS Clio.
What can we expect to see under the bonnet of the new Renault Clio 4?
The RenaultSport will sadly wave goodbye to its torque-light but rev-happy, naturally-aspirated 2.0 petrol engine in favour of a downsized 1.6, which should continue the current industry trend for simultaneously improving efficiency and performance.
More vanilla models lower down the order will be offered with the three-pot engine already seeing service in the Nissan Micra, or a 1.2 four-cylinder petrol or 1.5 diesel. Combined with an expected improvement over the current model's rather lardy kerbweight, the Clio 4 should be an altogether more spritely and greener performer.
Any other Renault Clio 4 details?
Don't be fooled by the body-masking in these spy shots – for the first time ever, the Clio is going five-door only – (spot the giveaway door shutline around the rear quarter).
Expect to see use of hidden rear door handles, as championed by Alfa Romeo and Honda, in order to ape a sporty three-door look.
If you like what you see so far, the Renault Clio 4 will finally be revealed at the 2012 Paris show, with UK sales confirmed by Renault to begin in winter 2012.