The Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport is a hot hatch designed and built by French automaker Renault (Phase 1 was built by TWR in Sweden and Phase 2 by RenaultSport in Dieppe).
It was launched in 2001 as another version of the Renault Clio. The long-term reviews in Evo magazine were enthusiastic for both the Phase 1 and Phase 2 versions, and Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson commented “In my perfect ten car garage I would definitely have one of these – no question”.
The Clio V6 Phase 1 was based on the Clio Mk II, though it shares very little by way of parts with that car. The 3.0 V6 engine, sourced from the Renault Laguna was upgraded to around 230 PS (169 kW; 227 bhp) and placed in the middle of the vehicle where the more ordinary Clios have rear seats – making this car a two-seater hot hatch. The Clio V6 was facelifted in 2003 to resemble the Clio Mk II Phase 2, and was extensively reworked following criticisms of the original Clio V6′s handling (especially in the wet). The new vehicle had an upgraded 255 PS (188 kW; 252 bhp) V6, but also much more understeer than the Phase 1, a reworking of the suspension due to Tom Walkinshaw’s TWR concern.
In order to accommodate the radical change from front-engine, front-wheel drive hatchback to mid-engine, rear-wheel drive two-seater quasi-coupé, the car had to be extensively reworked structurally, leading to the Phase 1 version being some 300 kg (660 lb) heavier than the sportiest “regular” Clio, the 172 Cup. Due to this, even though the V6 model had significantly more power, it was not remarkably faster in a straight line accelerating to legal road speeds than the 172 Cup – accelerating to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.2 seconds compared to the Cup’s 6.7 seconds – though its maximum speed was significantly higher (146 mph compared to 138 mph). The Clio V6 Phase 2 gained even more weight but offset it with even more power resulting in a reduced 0-60 mph run at 5.9 seconds and a 153 mph (246 km/h) top speed. Production of the specialized bodies was subcontracted to Valmet in Finland.
The Clio V6 was between 2003-2006 the most powerful serial produced hatchback in the world with 255 bhp (190 kW), exceeding the Ford Focus RS (212 PS (156 kW; 209 bhp)), the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA (250 PS (184 kW; 247 bhp)) and the SEAT León Cupra R (225 PS (165 kW; 222 bhp)), and only surpassed by the BMW 130i with 265 PS (195 kW; 261 bhp), Mazda 3 MPS with 260 PS (191 kW; 256 bhp) and Audi S3 with 269 PS (198 kW; 265 bhp).
Though based on a utilitarian hatchback, the Clio V6 is not a practical family car. Owners struggle to achieve over 25 miles to the gallon,[clarification needed] which leads to an empty fuel tank in just over 300 miles (480 km). The loss of the back seats and most of the boot space, due to the engine placement, results in a severe restriction in luggage space – there is only a small space in the front where the engine used to be, suitable for a holdall or week-end groceries, a small netted area behind the seats plus a small stash area under the tailgate. The enhanced steering makes tight manoeuvring a little challenging but multi-story carparks are still negotiable. The turning circle is 13 m (43 ft) – around three car lengths – turning what might normally be a three-point turn into a five-point turn. Standard equipment includes rain sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlights, air conditioning, and six speakers and CD changer.