Renault Clio 26 years 1

The Renault Clio was first introduced at the 1990 Paris Motor Show as a replacement for the Renault 5, making it 26-years old this year. However, the model was only launched in the United Kingdom on March 1991. Therefore, today marks the 25 years of the Clio in the UK, and to mark the occasion, the company has provided us with a trip down memory lane.

At the time, the Clio I entered the UK market riding high on its prestigious European Car of the Year award. The Clio came with Renault’s new ‘Energy’ engine line-up, comprising of 1.2 and 1.4 litre capacity four-cylinder petrol powerplants. Diesel options were part of the mix as well.

Since its introduction, the Clio I has undergone several facelifts, and as the hot hatch wars during the era started heating up, the hatchback began to reveal its wild side. In 1993, Renault revealed the Clio Williams, which shared only the Formula 1 team’s name and nothing else.

The 2.0 litre inline-four engine powering the hot hatch was rated at 145 hp, allowing it to achieve a top speed of 215 km/h. The car also received performance-tuned ride and handling befitting of a hot Clio. Initially, Renault only planned to produce just 3,800 cars, which was 1,300 more than needed for rally racing homologation purposes. They ended up making more than 12,000 cars due to the strong demand.

When the second-generation Clio II arrived in 1998, the world was already expecting a hot version of the daily car and they were gifted the Clio Renault Sport 172 in 1999, the first Clio to sport the Renault Sport (RS) nameplate). As the name suggests, the 2.0 litre four-cylinder VVT engine churned out 172 PS (170 hp).

In 2004, the Clio II was refreshed, and the Clio II RS had to follow suit. Known as the Clio Renault Sport 182, the engine was uprated to 182 PS (180 hp) thanks to twin exit exhaust tail pipes, a 4-2-1 manifold and a high flow 200 cell sports catalytic converter. Cup and Trophy versions of the Clio II RS were also available.

The second-generation model also spawned one of the most extreme version of the supermini – the Clio V6 Renault Sport. However, the car shares very few parts with the standard Clio. Instead, this wide-body, rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive hot hatch featured a 3.0 litre V6 providing 227 hp. Phase 2 of the Clio V6 saw 255 hp being extracted from the V6, making it the most powerful serial produced hot hatch in the world at the time.

For the third-generation Clio III, which was unveiled at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, the model now utilised the Nissan B platform, which was co-developed with Nissan. Larger and heavier compared to the Clio II, the third-gen model was meant to be more upmarket and introduced a slew of luxury features.

Even so, the Clio stuck through to its hot hatch heritage and the Renault Sport version called upon technology from Formula 1 for the Clio Renault Sport 197 in 2006, which didn’t amaze. The facelifted Clio III RS 200 remedied that problem with additional power and suspension tweaks, making it one of the best small hot hatches of all time.

The Clio IV (initially introduced at the 2012 Paris Motor Show) is the model which Malaysians would be most familiar with. Initially launched in the country in RS form only (Clio IV RS 200), the fourth-gen Clio hot hatch defied convention by ditching a manual transmission in favour of the EDC dual clutch transmission.

As history shows, Renault can’t stop making their hot hatches go faster, and with the Clio IV RS 220 Trophy setting the pace at the Nurburgring, it looks like the trend is set to continue. However, for those who aren’t looking for over-the-top performance, the Clio GT Line was introduced in 2015, packing a more modest turbocharged 1.2 litre TCe 120 four-cylinder petrol engine and a six-speed EDC dual-clutch transmission.

With the Renault Clio turning 26 this year, which version catches your attention the most? The fire-spitting hot hatch, or something more mellow?