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Clio 200T Mk4 - My Review



  Cooksport Fleet
I'm no car journalist, however I thought I would share my opinions on the new Clio 200T which I have had over the last 4 days. Renault UK delivered the car to me to be used for the French Car Show at Castle Combe for “Hot Laps”. I used it for both commuting and on circuit covering a total of about 500 Miles.


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Rather than beat around the bush, I will head straight to the main concern that the majority of people have with the new Clio 200T, the gearbox. There is a number of different settings which you can set the engine/gearbox in. Normal Auto/Manual. Sport Auto/Manual or Race Manual. I personally spent the duration in either Normal Auto (for road and around town) or Race Manual. (In any manual mode, you have the option of either the paddles or the sequential style gear leaver) Before I get onto the gearbox itself, I would like to mention the “Launch Control”... It works!! Very very well. Not only that but Renault do not limit the amount of “launches” in the warranty. To operate the Launch control, you must be in Race Manual mode, sit with your left foot on the brake with both leavers on the steering wheel pulled towards you. Then you plant the throttle, the revs build to a measly and initially disappointing 2500rpm with the engine note banging whilst it builds boost like some sort of restrained rally car. As soon as you release the brake the car gets a perfect getaway with a small amount of wheel spin, it literally surprised me every time I used it and after many many starts, the novelty has not even started to wear off.

Now back to the gear changes, this gearbox is a manual solenoid operated dual clutch 6 speed gearbox. The common perception of this gearbox is that it is going to offer a less “involved” driving experience... how wrong can you be! In auto mode, it is possible to catch the gearbox out and make it lurch a little however you can easily avoid this with the way you drive. I love the fact that I could just pop it in auto, sit back and cruise around without a worry but when I fancied a little blast, I just popped it into “Race” and started working the gearbox, often needlessly going up and down the box just for fun. The changes are crisp and very quick, having the flat shift felt like I was back in the race clio. The down-shifts need to be selected at the right RPM otherwise it will not go into gear, this is no different to a Manual box but luckily this one wont let you send a leg out of bed (con-rod out of the block!) like its predecessor. I am not ashamed to say that I, like many others was put off by the fact this car was not a manual, but after having this one... it is THE REASON why I would buy one, I love it. I could talk about the gearbox all day long, but I will move on to other aspects of the car.

Now we have the box out the way, I will start with the appearance of the car. I personally felt the same way with this as I did when I first saw the Clio 200 Mk3, a bit boggle eyed but it has very very quickly grown on me (which is quite annoying). I even parked this next to a Mk3 200 and now every time I look at one, I cant help but think they looked a little dated in comparison.

The Car I used was a 200T with Cup packs, this was no where near as “crashy” as its predecessor with the cup pack option. Don't get me wrong its still a stiff car, but it was a relief to not have to keep an eye on my open beverage in the cup holder.

The interior of the car is a really nice place to be, it doesn't feel cheap and plastically. The car really feels like it was put together well, a little German in fact! The R-Link system which now incorporates all of the cars entertainment system and Sat Nav took a little getting used to. It was fully compatible with my Iphone/Ipod which offered all my playlists on a touch screen which was a nice feature. The front of the car felt very spacious without feeling big, everything is where you expect it to be. I sadly cannot comment on the rear as I spent all the time driving it! The driving position was perfect for me and very adjustable, being 6ft 2 its often difficult to find a car which I actually feel comfortable in, but this nailed it. I will also mention the in-car noise animations, its a fun gimmick, I listened to them all once... but I spent the WHOLE time with that crap turned off. The engine with that gearbox make for an awesome noise, so I do not see why anyone would want to mask it.

The next hyped fear of this car was the fact that Renault had removed the Brembo brakes. There is not much to be said other than the fact they are literally amazing. They stop the car mentally quickly and after a full day at Combe at basically race pace, (with bog standard pads), there was not even a HINT of brake fade. So that's another worry off the list..

Now for the engine, the direct injection 1.6T is awesome. Renault have really got this right. It redlines at 6500rpm but is very free in getting there and loved to rev on the down-shifts especially. There is next to no turbo lag and it literally pulls all the way to the limiter. The low down torque is especially obvious, it really does feel like its a larger displacement engine under the bonnet.

There is so much I could talk about this car but I will basically sum up a few more of my observations over the last few days or this will go on for ever!

  • Steering weighted really nicely, steering wheel is thick too which is nice.
  • Standard RS seats hold you real well, much better than previous models.
  • Stereo system sound quality is good
  • Gear lever paddles feel spot on
  • Averaged 32mpg on low mileage engine with mixed driving (no motorway)
  • No temp gauge but a blue light goes out when its ready to be thrashed
  • Gear change light is perfect on track, as well as the beep
Right, now onto the overall handling of the car... It is very well balanced. I spent most of the morning putting in “fast” laps, which is fairly uneventful from a passenger point of view. Its change of direction through chicanes is quick and it really does feel like a light and nimble car. I was on track with a number of other generation Clios, which did all look like they were being peddled well... but they were no match for this low down torque paired with the diff and gear change and were quickly disposed of.

Literally 95% of all passengers got in commented on the quality of the gear changes within the first lap! (sometimes even on the way out the pit lane!). Every single person who I spoke to was impressed with the car as a whole.

There is only one thing about this car that I was not genuinely impressed with.... this was the tyres. The Dunlop sport max tyres did offer decent grip on road and wet conditions, but for use on track under warm conditions like that, I would consider swapping them for something a little more focussed.

As a final comment with my “tuning” head back on.....What a base this car is to start from... I cannot wait to get my hands on one to start slapping some modifications on. I simple remap is going to get decent power, hybrid turbo etc. A decent set of lowering springs would certainly increase the look of the car as I do feel it is sat a little high as standard.

I am sure I have missed plenty and/or worded sections very poorly, but I had to write this quickly. Must get back to work... so I can earn some dough to buy one! ;)

Josh
 
  182
Good write up Josh. You sure wasn't hanging about at fcs!!

Shall be popping in to seeing tcr's cup racer version when they get it.
 
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  Superleggera'd Bean
Good thorough write up. You never mentioned the speed of the gearbox... That's been the main gripe from everybody. Not the physical change itself but the change from "pull lever" to being in gear.

Did you notice it was slow at all?
 
  Cooksport Fleet
I literally have no benefit of bullshitting here. I am in no way paid by Renault or do I care if they sell loads of cars. I just want one
 
  Cooksport Fleet
In race mode, the gear change is literally awesome. There is a very very small delay, being petty.... but the whole process is still faster than I could do with a manual box
 
  Superleggera'd Bean
"The changes are crisp and very quick"
The gear changes are massively quick but of all reviews and videos, etc the whole process seems slow and slightly dimwitted.

In race mode, the gear change is literally awesome. There is a very very small delay, being petty.... but the whole process is still faster than I could do with a manual box

Seems like its just an issue for people wanting to find issues then.
 
Nice little write-up mate, it's a shame it takes a weekend or at least an extensive drive to turn opinion though, I wasn't convinced in my test drive, it felt like a soft compromise for the mass market compared to my 200.

I literally have no benefit of bulls**tting here. I am in no way paid by Renault or do I care if they sell loads of cars. I just want one

You'd not be rolling around in the next one for a weekend if you sl***d this one off! ;)
 
  Turbo 182 Alfa 159
Nice write up. It does sound like a great car.

Couple popping up on ph for sale now ex demo for start of September etc. I think they look great.
 
  Cooksport Fleet
The main problem, is most people who drive one are just scared of change. Initial driving, because its different its slightly weird and uncomfortable... but after giving it death and driving it regularly, im pretty pissed off they took it back and now I have to drive my 172 cup or Megane 225 again.
 
  Cooksport Fleet
Nice little write-up mate, it's a shame it takes a weekend or at least an extensive drive to turn opinion though, I wasn't convinced in my test drive, it felt like a soft compromise for the mass market compared to my 200.



You'd not be rolling around in the next one for a weekend if you sl***d this one off! ;)

I'm really not bothered to be honest mate, if it was a bag of s**t I wouldn't have any problems saying so!
 
  Cooksport Fleet
You race in the Clio Cup though, surely they'll be giving you a little discount on parts/the next car for giving it a decent review?

Nobody else has lol.

Yeah right, I wish!!!!!!!!

My opinion isn't always going to be the same as everyone else's, I got to live with this car for 4/5 days... so I really got time to give it a going over... although I did keep forgetting it was a 5 door

I also run Dunlops in Clio Cup, and mentioned how I don't like them!

I am genuinely looking at buying one now
 
  Racing Blue 182
Nice write up mate, looked well on track! Which driver were you? I think you took my misses out in it, she loved it!
 
  Lotus Elise
Yeah right, I wish!!!!!!!! My opinion isn't always going to be the same as everyone else's, I got to live with this car for 4/5 days... so I really got time to give it a going over... although I did keep forgetting it was a 5 door I also run Dunlops in Clio Cup, and mentioned how I don't like them! I am genuinely looking at buying one now

​Did you miss the Recaros?
 

MarkCup

ClioSport Club Member
What you said is why I was considering one in the first place - the world moves on, it's not a s**t car at all, just different from what people know and are comfortable with.

Embrace it and it's a great car.

Still haven't taken one out myself just yet but will hopefully soon.

Have you driven any of its direct competitors (208/Fiesta)?

Edit: also you made no comment on gear-shift paddle location...what are your thoughts on that?
 
When I drove one at Bedford I loved it. When people say the gear change doesn't happen when you want it, I'm sorry, but how long does it take you to clutch, shift, clutch? Damn sight longer than the box in the 200!
 
  Cooksport Fleet
Nice write up mate, looked well on track! Which driver were you? I think you took my misses out in it, she loved it!


I was in the Clio Most of the day. Jumped in the Twingo once... I had a full face helmet, no visor with orange sunstrip on it... in my clio cup suit :)

​Did you miss the Recaros?

looks wise yes... but from a driving support point, no, they pretty deep...
 
  Mental 172 Cup
Great write up, also no truer words have been said from what Josh says.. This coming from the primary passenger in said car all weekend, it really is a great car. The launch, gearbox etc etc is just fantastic.. I'm only judging this from a passenger point of view, I can imagine it being even better in the drivers seat.. It doesn't seem you'll get much better with the way the times are changing.. Cars are never going to be like they used to be. We have to move forward. This would definitely be the way I would go, can't wait to see/experience one with a remap, exhaust and some lows..
 
  Cooksport Fleet
What you said is why I was considering one in the first place - the world moves on, it's not a s**t car at all, just different from what people know and are comfortable with.

Embrace it and it's a great car.

Still haven't taken one out myself just yet but will hopefully soon.

Have you driven any of its direct competitors (208/Fiesta)?

Edit: also you made no comment on gear-shift paddle location...what are your thoughts on that?

Exactly right mate, a number of people still want to compare the mk3/mk4 to the 172/182... but its a completely different market since then!

The paddle location is perfect they certainly should not move with the wheel like some people think, try finding the right paddle at a tight hairpin in the heat of the moment with the wheel upside down!

Edit: I haven't to be honest mate so I can't comment!
 
  Cooksport Fleet
When I drove one at Bedford I loved it. When people say the gear change doesn't happen when you want it, I'm sorry, but how long does it take you to clutch, shift, clutch? Damn sight longer than the box in the 200!

Precisely! They are the dogs in my opinion!
 
  Clio Mrk 3 1.2 16v
I got into the car as a passenger at FCS and josh was driving it. I loved it too. The power it has behind it was brilliant. I'm thinking of selling my mk3 to get that car instead.
 
So you can't pick any fault with the car?

Im sorry but the whole review stinks a bit of advertising. I've no doubt it's a good car but what you have said seriously differs from many other "professional" reviews
 
  Cooksport Fleet
So you can't pick any fault with the car?

Im sorry but the whole review stinks a bit of advertising. I've no doubt it's a good car but what you have said seriously differs from many other "professional" reviews

Everything I've said is my own opinion, I've told you I don't care who buys it, makes no odds to me, neither am I a journalist.

Believe what you want!

Oh and I did say I dont like the dunlops.
 

The_Pirate

ClioSport Club Member
  Golf R
Even now i'd still have one over the ST and 308. I think they're brilliant - a lot of people don't want to like it its not they don't like it.
 
So you can't pick any fault with the car?

Im sorry but the whole review stinks a bit of advertising. I've no doubt it's a good car but what you have said seriously differs from many other "professional" reviews

Tbh, josh is comparing it to clio's and megane's rather than every other journalist that'll be comparing it to a DSG golf
 
  RB 182 195bhp
Do you not think its less special than before though? Just another hatch, the clio's selling point was always that it had the 2 litre N/A engine with a nice manual gearbox, now it's just a 1.6 turbo like all the others, mini, fiesta and 208, it's lost it's individuality, also the gearbox, I've no doubt it's 'better' and 'faster' but is it more enjoyable? A hot hatch isn't meant to be the fastest thing on the planet. If you wanted that just get a early Audi rs4 for the same money. It's meant to be fun, I just think the gear box will remove an element of the fun.
 
  Lotus Elise
Do you not think its less special than before though? Just another hatch, the clio's selling point was always that it had the 2 litre N/A engine with a nice manual gearbox, now it's just a 1.6 turbo like all the others, mini, fiesta and 208, it's lost it's individuality, also the gearbox, I've no doubt it's 'better' and 'faster' but is it more enjoyable? A hot hatch isn't meant to be the fastest thing on the planet. If you wanted that just get a early Audi rs4 for the same money. It's meant to be fun, I just think the gear box will remove an element of the fun.

​You can have a lot of fun with paddles trust me. Id argue its more special because it offers a DSG at this level of car and price range
 
  Mental 172 Cup
Do you not think its less special than before though? Just another hatch, the clio's selling point was always that it had the 2 litre N/A engine with a nice manual gearbox, now it's just a 1.6 turbo like all the others, mini, fiesta and 208, it's lost it's individuality, also the gearbox, I've no doubt it's 'better' and 'faster' but is it more enjoyable? A hot hatch isn't meant to be the fastest thing on the planet. If you wanted that just get a early Audi rs4 for the same money. It's meant to be fun, I just think the gear box will remove an element of the fun.

Everyone has to move with the times and they have to abide by emission laws and stuff now.. It's infact better then before because you can drop it into auto if you want and then if you want to play about then you can.. If anything it's more special then before.. I would definitely get one if I was spending £20k on a hot hatch..
 
Everything I've said is my own opinion, I've told you I don't care who buys it, makes no odds to me, neither am I a journalist.

Believe what you want!

Oh and I did say I dont like the dunlops.

And that's fair enough, but I fail too see you owning a car for a few days and not finding any fault with it (tyres excluded they're consumables) makes no odds to me I chose the focus as my 5 door hatch.

all I'm saying is it doesn't seem a very fair review, it's all good good good. So unless the car is absolutely perfect in every way (no car is IMO) you've missed a few bits out of your review or you have slightly rise tinted spectacles on
 
  Mental 172 Cup
So you can't pick any fault with the car?

Im sorry but the whole review stinks a bit of advertising. I've no doubt it's a good car but what you have said seriously differs from many other "professional" reviews

You do realise that any professional review is just personal opinion?? Josh is no journalist and doesn't sell cars for Renault, this is exactly what he told me when we were chatting about it..
 
  LY R26
Good write up Josh,

i was impressed by the interior its a nice place to be and the std seats i think are more supportive than my recaros.

It certainly felt quick on track but having a quick go in one at work i wasnt impressed speed wise, so i think a long test drive is needed if you are interested.

Not sure how giving a bias review would benefit you in any way, try your hardest for the remainder of the season and you might get a free one ;)
 
  Mental 172 Cup
And that's fair enough, but I fail too see you owning a car for a few days and not finding any fault with it (tyres excluded they're consumables) makes no odds to me I chose the focus as my 5 door hatch.

all I'm saying is it doesn't seem a very fair review, it's all good good good. So unless the car is absolutely perfect in every way (no car is IMO) you've missed a few bits out of your review or you have slightly rise tinted spectacles on

Of course it will be good good good, you can't find many niggles on a new car in a few days, this is a review on the ownership for the few days over the weekend.. Doubt any manufacturer would be able to sell many cars if they started flawing after a few days.. But considering this car has driven on the road for many miles and also been hammered on track as a test pilot car. It was still like new basically..

You are as bad as many others who don't want to like it.. It's a great car
 

MarkCup

ClioSport Club Member
I think the issue is that it's been driven in isolation.

I don't doubt for a second that it's a very very good car, but when compared directly to and driven back to back versus the competition the motoring press don't see it the way you have.

Torque being a good example - you've said it pulls well, driven in isolation and compared to a NA 200 it will be a monster, but compare to both the 208 and the Fiesta (both of which weigh less and have over 200lbsft vs the Clio's 177lbsft) and it will surely feel a bit weedy.

The gearbox I cold happily live with...it seems many are now are also starting to see the benefits that have clearly been there all along!

For me it's just the cost...versus what my ST cost it's impossible to make a case for where the extra money goes.
 


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