First drive: 2015 Renault Clio RS in the UAE

First drive: 2015 Renault Clio RS in the UAE

2015 Renault Clio RS in the UAE 3
Yep, the RenaultSport Clio is back in the UAE for 2015, and we managed to exclusively take one out for a spin around Dubai. It’s not quite what it used to be.

It’s a completely different car now in fact. It’s got two extra doors, a new turbo engine and — with the joy of the masses at the expense of a few — an automatic gearbox!

While the Clio RS has grown, it’s still diminutive in size, with no direct competitors as it plays in a segment one rung below the Ford Focus ST and the VW Golf GTI. At a stretch, the 3-door manual-only Opel Corsa OPC can be considered as a rival.

Inside, the RS reminds you of the car it’s based on, with extensive use of hard plastics, broken up by the soft-touch dash and padded door armrests. There’s no center armrest, but there’s several RenaultSport touches, such as the heavily-bolstered body-hugging front seats, red seat-belts and trim all over, and a chunky steering wheel. Space up front is fine, while the rear just about fits average-sized adults, but 6-footers won’t enjoy it back there. The boot is on the small side, with an exposed full-size spare wheel taking up space. And the cup-holders are too shallow.

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The multimedia touchscreen has all the typical features, such as Bluetooth and navigation, and is mostly straightforward to use, but you may have to dig through the menus to find certain functions, such as the one that lets you choose engine sounds from various cars — Nissan GT-R, Renault Clio racer, motorcycle or even a spaceship-looking future car — to play through the speakers to augment the actual engine sound. Say what?

That’s an amusing but unnecessary gimmick though, as the 200 hp 1.6-litre turbo engine sounds nicely grunty on its own, especially in “sport” mode. Mated to a rather decent 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, you can feel a bit of initial turbo lag, and it also kind of runs out of steam beyond 100 kph. It’s not the fastest hot hatch around, but it’s still got enough power to be enjoyable on public streets if you keep the revs up. It can shift gears quickly too, if your fingers can reach the paddle-shifters. Not as economical as you’d think though, at an as-indicated 12.5 litres/100 km on the trip computer.

2015 Renault Clio RS in the UAE 2

Handling is expectedly pretty darn good. It can turn quickly and sharply, and gives the impression of unlimited grip unless you really wring it. Managing with only 205-width tyres, it doesn’t feel as buttoned-down as fatter hot-hatches like the aforementioned GTI, but it can be much more entertaining if you’re up for it, as the Clio can twitch the tail out at certain moments, giving you a little scare while being completely safe and under control. And it’s still got ABS and ESP to not let things get too far.

The quick-ratio steering is very direct and offers acceptable feedback, with a bit of weight for the corners while lightening up at parking speeds. The brakes are a bit uneven, not doing a whole lot at initial tip-in, but stopping well enough at a bit more push of the pedal.

2015 Renault Clio RS in the UAE

The new Clio RS can be considered more comfortable than the 3-door manual-only model before. Aside from switching to one of the smoothest dual-clutch transmissions in the business, effectively rendering your left leg inactive and right hand bored, the little car rides better than before too. Sure, it’s still firm, somewhat jittery and a bit noisy at speed, but it’s less so than the outgoing model, and now well within bearable limits.

Add to that the better rear-seat access, and what you have here is essentially a better daily-driver, which practically guarantees that Renault will sell more of these in a year than they did the old model in the whole past decade. The little RenaultSport Clio is all grown up now.

For prices and specs, visit the Renault Clio RS buyer guide.

What do you think?



  1. Affordable Sports car. Boot space could have been arranged better

  2. LooL . I want this engine 1.6 turbo in Renault Duster with 6 speed Manual transmission .
    Thanks to you . I will take it any time .

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