The fabulous Renault Clio RS 200 EDC has just made its Asian debut right here in Kuala Lumpur. Take that, Singapore! Flown in for a special customer and media event with the Williams-Renault Formula One team, the new RS 200 was presented by the team’s two racing drivers, Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.
This is not a launch, mind you, just a preview of the new car that was unveiled in September last year. Local introduction isn’t set until the fourth quarter of this year, so there will be no price or final equipment list just yet. We can also confirm that the standard non-RS Clio in TCe 120 form will make it to local shores sometime next year.
So on to the main event then. The Clio RS 200 EDC looks absolutely brilliant in the metal. Pictures can’t quite capture its complex yet svelte curves but trust us, it’s a damn good looker. DRLs blazing, 18-inch black wheels under the flared wheel arches; it’s special, this one.
The show car was painted in RenaultSport’s signature Liquid Yellow paintjob that shows it in its best light. This is a deeper, more metallic yellow than the pale variety we’ve gotten used to on the Megane RS 250 Cup. Fortunately enough, the latest RS 265 gets this exclusive colour option too.
Inside, it’s slightly less impressive. While fit and finish takes a giant leap forward, leaving the current owners in awe, it’s just not very exciting. The red highlights lift up the cabin ambience, in an otherwise rather dour cabin. Front seats are standard sport items too, which will probably be swapped with Recaro buckets by the time it arrives here.
Blink and you’ll miss the rear doors. The handles are hidden within the glasshouse a la Alfa 147, and the doors open up to reveal a decent rear cabin. It’s by no means spacious back there but it’s a good improvement over its three-door predecessor. Entry to the rear seats are much better too, obviously.
Under the hood lies a big departure from the hot Clios of old. The cover-less engine is a 1.6 litre turbocharged unit with 200 hp and 240 Nm. There’s also a Launch Control to toy with, plus a physical RS Sound Pipe that sends engine soundwaves directly into the cabin for enhanced aural drama.
It’s certainly faster (0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, top speed 230 km/h versus 6.9 and 225 in the outgoing car) and more efficient than before, no doubt, but better? We’ll have to drive it to find out.
While some may bemoan the lack of a free revving normally aspirated engine as found in its predecessors, the loss of a manual gearbox is an even bigger worry. Williams F1 driver Bottas defended the two-pedal dual-clutch set-up, saying you’ll now be able to concentrate so much more on the steering, going quicker through every corner without sacrificing driver involvement and satisfaction.
He went on to say that the EDC gearbox in the Clio RS is the best paddle-based sequential transmission he’s experienced in a road car. But then again, of course he’d say that, wouldn’t he?
The new Clio RS will be displayed at the PJ Renault showroom for a whole month from this Friday onwards, so do come by if you want to see it in the flesh. It’s worth the trip down, that’s for sure. So what do you think, chaps? Will it have the guts to match its looks?