For performance with daily practicality, the usual answer is a hot hatch. And some of the best modern ones, like the Honda Civic Type R, can even embarrass classic supercars. But some hatches went beyond ‘hot’ and went straight to ‘super’ thanks to some drastic changes. And YouTube team The Straight Pipes recently spent time with one of those: the Renault Sport Clio V6.
The Renault Sport Clio V6 is vastly different than the standard car
The normal Renault Clio, even the homologation-special Williams model, is a front-wheel-drive hatchback. And the vast majority of Clios have front-mounted four-cylinder engines, Petrolicious explains. That’s not the case with the 2001-2005 Renault Sport Clio V6.
Like the 5 Turbo, and unlike the base Clio, the Renault Clio V6 is a mid-engine RWD hatchback. And instead of a four-cylinder, it has a 3.0-liter V6. A V6 which is housed inside the cabin, taking the place of the rear seats, Car and Driver reports. In the 2001-2002 ‘Phase 1’ cars, it makes 230 hp and 221 lb-ft, Automobile reports. The 2003-2005 ‘Phase 2’ Renault Clio V6s have 255 hp, Evo reports. And with a 6-speed manual, the latter goes 0-62 mph in 5.8 seconds.
The Renault Clio V6’s changes from the standard car don’t stop there, though. Many of the French hatchback’s body panels aren’t shared with the base Clio, Road & Track reports. The Clio V6 also has a different chassis, HonestJohn Classics reports, along with a larger grille and rear spoiler. It also rides lower and has sportier suspension, larger anti-roll bars, and 4-wheel vented disc brakes, Automobile reports. Plus, it has well-bolstered sport seats.
The Phase 2 Renault Sport Clio V6 further refined the hatchback’s performance capabilities. In addition to the extra power, it has a longer wheelbase and a wider front track to address handling concerns. These issues were also why Renault revised the rear suspension and fitted an updated steering rack and bump-stops, SuperStreet and Top Gear report.
The Renault Clio V6 isn’t just a hot hatch—it’s a proper small-scale supercar
The Renault Sport Clio V6 The Straight Pipes drove is a 2002 example, making it a Phase 1 car. But that still makes it endearingly quirky and fun to drive.
The Renault Sport Clio V6’s modifications and chassis reinforcements mean it weighs about 1000 pounds more than the base Clio, Jalopnik reports. As a result, despite the extra power, 0-62 mph for Phase 1 cars is 6.4 seconds. It’s faster than the base car, but it’s not at the level of the ‘average’ supercar.
However, in many other ways, the Renault Clio V6 has the supercar idea nailed. For one, unlike a hot hatch, it’s almost hilariously impractical. It only has 2 seats, the interior is loud, and there’s no rear cargo space. There is a frunk, but it’s rather small. Plus, the mid-engine hatchback’s turning circle is rather poor.
But these are the downsides of a supercar. And the Renault Sport Clio V6 has the requisite upsides, too. Without an engine up-front, the steering is light and communicative. The ride is stiff, but it’s rather comfortable, as are the sport seats. The Clio V6 also has very little body roll. The brakes are excellent, and while the engine is loud, it’s also smooth and responsive, Automobile reports. And it adds a sense of drama to the occasion.
Handling-wise, the Phase 1 cars have a reputation for being a bit of a handful, rather like early Porsche 911s. This was rectified somewhat by the Phase 2 models. However, at road speeds, it grips well and is simply “a joy to drive,” The Straight Pipes report.
Getting one in the US won’t be easy
Unfortunately, Renault never sold the Clio V6 in the US. Which means the only way to get one here is to import it. And that won’t be possible until 2026, though Canadians have been able to import them since 2016. A US-registered Phase 1 model was up for sale in 2017 in Miami for $69k, The Drive reports, but its fate is unknown.
Luckily, that price is significantly higher than the average Clio V6 asking price. Bring a Trailer reports the hatchback supercar typically goes for $25,000-$30,000. In contrast, well-maintained Renault 5 Turbo values hover around the $75,000-$100,000 mark, Hagerty reports.
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