As part of the Renault Clio’s wider update, the RS model has been gently modified. The special edition 220 Trophy is now a standard fixture alongside the RS 200.
As before, power and torque from the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine are at 217bhp and 192lb ft and the EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox remains – as does the lower, stiffer suspension.
Cosmetic changes are minor: the front splitter has been redesigned, there’s a new design of alloy wheel and the Clio RS16 concept car's chequered flag-inspired RS Vision system – a novel arrangement of LED bulbs and reflectors intended to enhance the car’s lighting – is carried over.
What is the 2016 Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy like to drive?
The Trophy has always been the best version of the EDC-equipped Clio generation – and as the running gear remains the same, that remains the case. The amount of power on tap somewhat negates the less-than-brilliant paddle-shift gearbox (its upshifts are quick enough, but never invigorating), and the stiffer suspension makes the already pointy RS that bit more capable.
The steering is lighter than that of some of its rivals, and is less immediate than in the new Ford Fiesta ST200 – but the Trophy approaches corners with at least as much tenacity and retains an exciting sense of balance. There’s still no limited-slip differential on the front axle to help power delivery in sharp bends, but elsewhere the chassis does a fine job.
Although it wasn’t obvious on the smooth track we drove the car on, previous experience has taught us the Trophy’s ride quality can be a bit on the wearying side.
Renault has added the option of an Akrapovic exhaust, which increases the volume of the engine, but without significantly enhancing the note when you’re inside.
What is the 2016 Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy like inside?
It's as you were inside, which means you get all the equipment befitting a range-topper (climate control, the full nav-included R-Link infotainment system, a rear parking camera etc), along with the amenability of the Clio’s four doors and its ability to seat four adults in relative comfort.
As part of the general facelift, Renault has made an effort to enhance its trim materials, but the interior still falls well short of the bar set by a Volkswagen Polo GTI. As far as the Trophy is concerned, you get the impression that most of your money has been spent on the chassis underneath you – and not on cabin comfort.
Should I buy one?
The Clio’s peculiar mix of virtues – its rear doors, auto ’box, good looks and likeable handling – probably makes it an ideal fit for someone who has already decided a Fiesta ST200 or Mini Cooper S isn’t for them, and the Trophy’s extra speed and agility make it the most persuasive option thereafter.
But for most buyers (and for us too) it’s hard to see past the more rewarding qualities of those cars, or indeed the Trophy's £22,030 price tag – which places it in the premier league of small hot hatches. In some ways, not least how it corners, the car justifies that positioning. In other ways, all-round desirability among them, it does not.
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2016 Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
Engine size 1.6 petrol
Price from £22,030
Torque 192lb ft
Top speed 146mph
Fuel economy (official combined) 47.9mpg
CO2/BIK band 135g/km/24%