The 2018 FIA Formula One Championship starts this weekend and to celebrate, we’ve got the RenaultSport Clio RS18 to talk about.
Renault’s hot hatch pedigree is unmatched, with two absolute rockets on the books – the Clio and the Megane. You can say the same for its on-track success, with decades of Formula 1 experience behind them. And not just a few championships, either. Williams-Renault dominated the mid-90s with Viry Chatillon’s epic V10 engines and spawned the first Clio hottie, the Clio Williams.
The RS18 is the name of the this year’s F1 challenger, so that’s kind of cute. RenaultSport isn’t afraid of a special edition or two, either – just have a look at the classifieds.
The RS18 is based on the RenaulSport Clio 220, complete with the boot-stealing Akrapovic exhaust that is an option on Trophy cars in some markets. The 1.6-litre turbo’s power runs at 162kW (220PS) and also features a 280Nm torque overboost function like its Ford and Peugeot rivals. That’s a handy boost over the 200’s 147kW and 260Nm.
As has been the case since 2013, the six-speed EDC twin-clutch handles the gear-shifting and is perhaps the car’s only weak link.
Compared to the 200, the chassis is lower and stiffer while the suspension has hydraulic stops. Renault says the steering is “sharper”, which is easy to believe as the Trophy is pretty serious. Tyres are Michelin’s sticky Sport Cups.
“Renault Sport customers share our passion for motorsport. With this limited-edition model – which is based on the technical foundations of the Clio R.S. 220 EDC Trophy – we are proud to be able to offer them the very best of our engineering expertise. Its sporting credentials are expressed by a number of design flourishes drawn directly from the world of Formula 1. The Renault Clio R.S.18 is an eloquent illustration of the close bond that exists between our motorsport activities and our road cars.” – Quentin Audiffren, Clio R.S. Product Manager, Renault Sport Cars
It’s a mildly evil-looking thing, with black bumpers, R.S. 18 badging on the doors, Liquid Yellow aero blade across the front and the RS daytime running lights evoking a chequered flag. On the roof is a whopping RS18 graphic, just to make sure. All badging is black as is the diffuser.
Inside you get an Alcantara steering wheel, sill badges and a plaque telling you the sequence number of your car.
Australians will fight over just ten of them (for $39,990), with UK and European buyers also enduring smug dealers who reckon they’re like hen’s teeth.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.