Renaultsport's improved Clio 220 Trophy is a desirable little hot hatch for serious drivers. It's very collectable too. The experts at Car & Driving check it out.
Ten Second Review
At last: a properly serious small hot hatch - the RenaultSport Clio 220 Trophy is here. It's been improved but it's enthusiast-orientated appeal remains the same.
Renaultsport models are possibly some of the hottest hatches to ever be produced. Not only are they quick but they feel great to drive. The driver is at one with the car and you feel every movement - which is why these cars are so sought after and of course, so enjoyable to drive. The Renaultsport collection is rightly held in high esteem - and has been enhanced by the French brand's decision to include a flagship Trophy model at the top of its Renaultsport Clio range. Like all Clios, these top models have been recently revised with a sleeker front end, plus Renaultsport buyers get a clever 'R.S. Vision' LED lighting system. Go for this Trophy model and you get a 20bhp power hike over the 200bhp of the standard model, plus a more track-orientated suspension set-up. Is the resultant Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy a hardcore hatch in the same vein of its predecessors? That's the question here. One of the most frustrating things about the standard Clio Renaultsport model is its lack of a manual gearbox. That issue's not been rectified here but to counter this, Renault has made the Trophy variant's auto 'box quicker to change gears. Could this be the answer that fans have been looking for?
As with any hot hatch, the Clio is made for enthusiasts who enjoy driving but Renaultsport engineering always promises a different level of involvement. Here, the whole experience is mind-blowing: the chassis is set-up brilliantly and the Clio is nimble and agile, perfectly geared towards the enthusiast driver. This halo model of the Clio range features a larger turbocharger and revised mapping compared with the ordinary Renaultsport 200 models. This boosts the output of the 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo engine by 20hp (10 per cent) and 20Nm (8.5 per cent) to 220hp and 260Nm, with a further 20Nm available through the 'Torque Boost' feature in fourth and fifth gears. The Trophy's chassis is lowered lower by 20mm at the front and 10mm at the rear making the little Clio handle even better than the standard Renaultsport car. There have been plenty of further tweaks too, including new ratings for the springs and shock absorbers, all aimed at high performance driving. Performance figures look good, with the benchmark 0-62mph sprint only taking 6.6 seconds before the car goes on to a top speed of 146mph. The Clio 220 Trophy's biggest rival at present is the Peugeot 208 GTi in top 'by Peugeot Sport' guise. The Peugeot is quicker over the benchmark sprint by 0.1 of a second, although the Clio has a 3mph advantage when it comes to top speed.
Design and Build
There aren't really any really significant aesthetic changes made to this facelifted Clio Renaultsport Trophy model, though its improved 'R.S. Vision' LED lighting system is significant in that it's said to improve night-time visibility by up to 40%. Otherwise, it's as you were. Aesthetically pleasing, this Trophy Clio Renaultsport is designed as a hot hatch should be. The lower ride gives a more aggressive stance: it looks as if it means business and with a gloss black roof and spoiler, it's certainly stylish. Like other Renaultsport models, this version comes with side skirts, the characteristic 'front blade' spoiler and numbered sill plates adorned in Trophy decals. The 18-inch alloys have diamond-effect facings. On the inside, the racy theme continues at pace. Highlights include an embossed leather steering wheel, plus a carbon-look finish for the air-vent surrounds, the door handles and the gearlever base plate. The air-vent inserts are finished in satin chrome.If you fancy a pair of heated leather 'Trophy' sports seats with integrated headrests, they'll set you back £1,600 as an optional extra. The cabin is slick and driver focused, just like how a hot hatch should be. The dash is minimalist but this car, remember, is for trackday enthusiasts rather than commuters. The Trophy comes only in five-door guise, making rear access much easier for passengers. Storage is good for this sector of the market. With the seats in place, there's a load space of 300-litres and when they're folded, this expands to 1,146-litres.
Market and Model
List prices suggest that the Renault Clio 220 Trophy Renaultsport will start from around £22,500. This is a fraction less expensive than the Ford Fiesta ST200 and the Peugeot 208 GTi in top 'by Peugeot Sport' guise. The Trophy is well equipped too. It comes complete with the Renault R-Link infotainment system featuring a connected multimedia tablet, a 7-inch touch-screen, voice control, TomTom LIVE satellite navigation, a DAB radio with 2 x 35W speakers, Bluetooth music streaming and hands-free telephone operation, plus various vehicle and web connections as standard. Other gear fitted as standard includes launch control, a steering wheel that's adjustable for reach and rake, heated electric mirrors, a USB socket, a Bass Reflex speaker system, cruise control, a speed limiter, auto windscreen wipers, climate control, body coloured rear parking sensors and a fold-flat rear seat with 60/40 split. The safety levels on the Renault Clio 220 Trophy Renaultsport are extremely high. Standard stuff includes ESP stability control, frontal airbags, lateral head and thorax airbags, a pressure sensor to detect impending impacts, seat belts with pre-tensioners and anti-whiplash head rests.
Cost of Ownership
There's only one engine on offer with the 220 Trophy Clio. The 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo engine performs reasonably well on fuel economy, averaging 47.9mpg on the combined cycle. The good news is the Renaultsport boffins have kept the emissions as low as possible and this version emits 135g/km of CO2. Insurance ratings should be on a par with rivals of the same power output (think group 29E) and there's a three-year/60,000 mile warranty to boot. On to residuals. Special Renaultsport models like this one usually hold on to more value than the norm thanks to being very collectible. The 220 Trophy Clio is ideal for collectors, making it more valuable after a few years of ownership, as long as the car hasn't been abused.
Renault is renowned for making hot hatches and its Renaultsport division is one of the best in the automotive world at doing just that. It really is up there with the German powerhouses that include BMW's M division and Mercedes' AMG specialists. As long as Renaultsport keep knocking out stupendous hot hatches like the Trophy 220, then the UK's love affair with the French brand's shopping rockets will continue. It's true that some rival hot hatches are more comfortable and a few others are quicker. This 220 Trophy model though, is race-bred. Ultimately, that makes all the difference.