Take a long, hard look at it, for the car you see here is the last few of its almost-forgotten breed: manual box’, a chassis built to excite and most importantly, a naturally aspirated engine which rewards keen drivers. The harder you push it, the more sense it makes – the old new world order where the less relevant you are to Joe Everyday, the better you appear for the enthusiasts.
Conversely, I will also mention that the Clio RS 200 is also irrelevant since you won’t be able to buy it. It is just a teaser, for the lack of a better word, and the actual car TC Euro Cars is selling is a bit more special (with an unbelievably long name): the Renault Clio RS 200 Cup Angé Et Démon Edition.
I loved the previous Clio RS 197 and still do. The 200 on the other hand is wrapped with the facelifted body that incorporates subtle changes such as new front end. Overall it looks less belligerent without the lower bumper and rear wing but that’s an acceptable trade off when the Cup chassis is present. Like in the Megane RS 250 sold here, the Cup designation lowers ride height by 7mm and with added torsional rigidity to the chassis. The dampers are recalibrated and the steering ratio is faster by 7.5 per cent. The true Angé Et Démon (French for Angel & Demon so let’s cut it short to A&D) version will sport basically the same thing, with the welcome addition of the useful RS monitor as also seen in the Megane RS 250. Other than that the two cars are mechanically similar and will have the same handling qualities.
Like said before, this car makes no sense for people who have little idea of what it is made for. Even the simple act of getting in is rather uncomfortable; the semi bucket seats have tall sides to keep the hips snug during corners so it’s best to minimise contact during ingress/egress if possible. Failing which, you’ll wear down the fabric covers in no time as already exhibited by the test car’s Recaro. The proper A&D Edition uses leather-wrapped seats though.
Renault seems to have made the first, second and third ratios shorter to help with the century sprint. The time needed is 6.9 seconds, an impressive time for a naturally aspirated 2 litre 4-potter, even if that’s hardly the most interesting fact about the car. The engine is only slightly interesting to listen to as it buzzes and brrmmms quickly past 4000rpm, the number when the engine gets testy in a good way. I don’t believe the standard PerfoHub is critically needed – after all, the previous Clio RS is only short of 3bhp but didn’t urgently need anything to quell its marginal torque steer issue; if anything it added some quirk to an otherwise flawlessly polished driving dynamics. However, there is some improvement to stability coming out of corners as you put down all of the F4R’s 215Nm. That number is similar as before with peak kicking in at 5400rpm, usefully lower by 150rpm. The difference is tangible and you’ll still spin the wheels going into third as I delightfully found out. Okay, the road was a bit dirty, but still…
There is substantial grip at the front end which at high engine speeds allows you to throttle-steer – ease off or jump on it to adjust lines. Would be interesting to capitalise this on wet tarmac but where is the rain when you need one, right? There is not a strict manner to enjoy the car; any level of skill can appreciate its different qualities but the best is probably to keep the engine at anything above 3,500rpm, preferably while taking on a hill or two. At Bukit Tinggi and the back roads of Janda Baik, the RS 200 Cup explodes to life like a shaped charge, causing all the effects wanted with little room for negative side effects. The smooth shifting and well defined short throw gear action help to keep the revs up even if the French seems indifferent to making heel and toeing easier. The brake pedal is just too small and bites so much at the top that I never can get enough revs in during shifting. But that’s a quick fix with an aftermarket solution.
The steering itself is spot-on with weight and accuracy being the strongest points. Feedback is a bit vague being an electric variable-rate power steering unit but the low 1204kg kerb weight helps to keep the vehicle agile. It turns-in sharply with a slight show of mid-corner understeer, its ContiSportContact audibly straining to continue lateral bite, but still opening up options for the driver to sort out the exit. It’s a bit funny doing all this over what seems to be an overly high seating position, like being on horseback taking corners with gazelle-like speeds. And just as it is immensely impressive in the Megane RS, the rear suspension is handled by a torsion beam set up. Ride quality is bumpy but not thrashy, finely balancing compression and rebound quickly, a black art Renault Sport have so expertly mastered.
I’ve always thought that it’ll be very difficult to beat what the Clio RS 197 could do and indeed it took the Cup chassis to achieve it along with changes to peak power delivery. At RM199,000, only those who can understand the thrill of driving will apply, Angel & Demon Edition or not (only 666 units worldwide). Moreover, the current generation of Clio is at the end of its cycle, and the new one will go politically correct together with its eventual RS. Rumours are it will be force-fed. In Renault Sport we trust, then.
Engine Inline 4, 16v, 1998cc
Transmission 6-speed manual
Max power 200bhp @ 7100rpm
Max torque 215Nm @ 5400rpm
0-100kmh 6.9sec (claimed)
Top speed 225kmh
On Sale Now
EVO rating 5 stars
+ High revving, gearbox, handling