What's the used Renault Clio RS hatchback like?
If you fancy a Renault Clio but want it with a bit of va-va-voom try the Renaultsport model. This Clio RS 200 is the sporting version of the fourth-generation car that ran from 2012 to 2019 and, as with the many RS Meganes, its purpose was to deliver performance and driver enjoyment above the comfort and economy you might expect from the more sensible standard car.
This version marked something of a change of direction for fast Clios. Not only was it the first to be fitted with a turbocharged engine, but it was also the first with an automatic gearbox - no manual version is offered.
No matter. The RS is deceptively rapid when you thrash its turbocharged 1.6 petrol engine, managing the 0-62mph sprint in just 6.7sec. The engine sounds good, too, thanks in part to a 'sound pipe', which directs engine noise into the cabin under hard acceleration.
The RS has quite softly set-up suspension by hot hatch standards. It's still remarkably agile, though, gripping hard and staying neatly balanced through corners. The steering isn't especially quick, so you need to apply plenty of lock in the slower corners.
There's certainly no arguing with Renault's point that the six-speed automatic allows you to change gear faster and keep your hands on the wheel while doing so (even though we'd rather the paddles were mounted on the steering wheel rather than behind it). If your idea of fun is quick lap times at your local track day then this can only be seen as a good thing. The auto 'box responds quickly enough to commands and (in Race mode) gives you full control over changes, meaning it won't override your chosen gear. Switch to Normal mode and shifts are also remarkably smooth, even at low speeds.
However, the ratios for third and fourth are quite widely spaced, so there are times when neither feels right and some might feel the automatic 'box robs you of a little of the driver involvement you get from a manual. It also helps explain why the Clio is considerably more expensive than its closest - and better to drive - rival, the Ford Fiesta ST.
Most buyers will have added Renault’s Cup Chassis option which adds larger wheels and lower, stiffer suspension. Or, going for the 220 Trophy version of the RS would have brought this with extra kit and more power.
The RS’s seats are disappointing. The bolsters are too soft, so don't hold you in position particularly well during hard cornering. More positively, the driving position is good, with nicely positioned pedals and plenty of adjustment. Forwards and backwards visibility is good, too, while rear parking sensors are standard on both models. Front sensors and a rear-view camera are standard on the 220.
There are several eye-catching embellishments worthy of note, including colour-coded inserts on the steering wheel and around the gear selector. You also get a central touchscreen that shamelessly pays homage to the latest generation of portable tablets.
We're not normally fans of touchscreens, as they tend to be fiddly to use on the move, but the Clio's has large, spot-at-a-glance icons and is quick to respond, so it's surprisingly simple to operate. That's just as well, because you control the stereo, phone and navigation systems through it - you can even download apps.
It's a shame the interior plastics are mostly hard and cheap feeling, but Renault's efforts to liven things up makes this more forgivable.
Like every good hot hatch, the RS is just as spacious and practical as any other Clio. That means it offers a reasonable amount of space in the front cabin for two adults, although the rakish roofline means that really tall occupants may grumble about head room. There shouldn’t be any problems for most people, though, and there’s decent shoulder room on offer.
Two grown-ups can fit into the rear seats without too much bother, and they’re only likely to grumble about knee or leg room if you inflict a really long journey upon them. As with the front, head room could be the biggest issue.
You don’t really expect radical flexibility in a small car’s seat arrangement, and sure enough, the RS offers nothing exceptional here. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split in case you need to increase the boot capacity, although they don’t go down completely flat.
As with the regular Renault Clio, the RS’s boot is on a par with those of rivals, at 300 litres. In real-world terms, that means you can easily fit in a family’s weekly shop, although larger clobber, such as a toddler’s buggy or pram with chassis, may prove more of a challenge. The rear seats fold down to free up more space, although there’s a large step in the extended floor that could make it awkward to slide in larger, heavier items.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Renault Clio RS hatchback?
This is a sporty car so it’s best to check carefully for obvious signs of misuse, including any possible track-day use. Check the bodywork carefully for dents and scrapes, and the alloy wheels for any damage picked up by contact with kerbs. Make sure the sports seats operate as they should, and that there are no signs of excessive wear.
Although general reliability isn’t great, there are no single areas in which the regular Clio disappoints. Most owners identified non-engine electrics as the major area of concern, followed by problems surrounding the engines, such as blocked DPFs and poor starting.
The RS hasn’t featured in any of our reliability surveys, but the standard Clio finished mid-table in its class in our most recent one. Renault as a brand finished in 30th place out of 31 manufacturers.
What are the most common problems with a used Renault Clio RS hatchback?
Is a used Renault Clio RS hatchback reliable?
What used Renault Clio RS hatchback will I get for my budget?
You need about £8500 to get into an RS Clio. This will buy you a 2014 car with an average mileage for the year and a full service history. Up the ante to between £10,000 and £12,000 and you’ll get a good 2015 or 2016 car that satisfies the same criteria, while £13,000 to £15,000 should net you a 2017 or 2018 model. Think a little bit more for a run-out 2019 car and add at least £500 for a 220 Trophy version to the cost of any second-hand RS.
How much does it cost to run a Renault Clio RS hatchback?
The Clio RS was tested under the older NEDC fuel tests, where it achieved an official 47.9mpg, with corresponding CO2 emissions of 133g/km. Cars registered before April 2017 will be charged a fee for annual car tax (VED) based on CO2 emissions, which ran out at about £130 a year, while those registered after that date will be charged a flat fee, currently £145 a year.
Insurance and servicing costs will obviously be higher than they would be with a regular Renault Clio, with an insurance grouping of a high 29, although if your car is one of the older models you might seek out an independent specialist to service it, rather than a more expensive franchised dealer. Service intervals are once a year or every 12,500 miles, whichever occurs first.
Which used Renault Clio RS hatchback should I buy?
Although we like the more powerful 220 Trophy version it is probably advisable to stick with the cheaper to buy and run regular RS 200. Likewise the Cup version is worth seeking out but will cost you more.
Our favourite Renault Clio RS 200: 1.6 Clio RS 200
What alternatives should I consider to a used Renault Clio RS hatchback?
It is unfortunate for the RS 200 Clio that it exists in the same marketplace as one of our all-time favourite cars, the Ford Fiesta ST. This is not only a used car bargain it’s also one of the most fun hot hatches out there, more so if you were to buy the first or second-generation versions rather than the newer and more expensive third-gen car, although we like that a great deal too. It’s great to drive, relatively cheap to run and even quite practical.
The VW Polo GTI is imbued with some of the same spirit as the iconic VW Golf GTI, with a responsive engine, eager handling and a high fun factor for the driver. It’s comfortable in everyday use, with lots of grip, and it’s quicker than the Fiesta ST.
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