For the second year running, the Clio Renaultsport 197 has been crowned ‘Hot Hatch Car of the Year’ by Track & Race Car magazine. Judging the very best hot hatches at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground at its annual shoot-out, the magazine said the limited-edition 197 F1 Team R27 saw off, amongst others, the Honda Civic Type-R, Peugeot 207 GTi, Vauxhall Astra and Corsa VXR to claim the top accolade.
Editor, Keith Wood, said, “It’s head and shoulders above everything else here for pure track day fun.” Special correspondent, John Hayman, summed up the Clio “Without doubt it’s a non-compromised track car, and it shows and rewards for being so. That’s why it’s the unquestioned winner for me.”
The lap times for Track & Race Car magazine’s circuit at Bruntingthorpe showed just what the combination of the Clio’s engine, handling and braking performance are capable of, posting a time of 1m 25.51 seconds. This was significantly quicker than the Civic Type-R (1m 26.97sec) and the 207 GTi (1m 27.03 sec) and over 2 seconds quicker than the Astra VXR (1m 27.89 sec) and the Corsa VXR (1m 27.75 sec).
Technical Editor, Andy Dawson, said, “It has a superb engine”. This is combined with the Cup chassis setting on the limited-edition F1 Team R27 with its up-rated springs (increased by 27% at the front, 30% at the rear), stiffer dampers (10% front and rear), more flexible bump stops and a 7mm lower ride height. Summing up the changes, the magazine said, “It’s the chassis that puts the Clio into another league. It has that race and track honed feel about it, and that automatically makes you feel so at home in the driving position. The Clio was built and designed to go around a race circuit.”
The 197’s brakes, featuring 312mm cross-drilled front discs with Brembo four-pot callipers and 300mm discs to the rear, also earned significant praise. Editor, Keith Wood, said, “Every manufacturer should take note of what Renault has achieved with the braking systems on both the Mégane and, particularly, on the Clio because there’s nothing else on the market that can compete with them.”
The limited-edition Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27 has now sold out of its 500 production run. However, the Cup chassis setting is now available as a £400 option on the regular 197 and as standard on the recently launched 197 Cup. At just £14,995, the Cup has been eagerly awaited by hot hatch fans.Published 16 January 2008