Renault Sport has transplanted a Mégane RS into a Clio’s body and created my favourite front-wheel drive car of all time.
Now all they have to do is build it.
The Paris Motor Show is taking place until the end of this weekend and there are some amazing production cars on display. However, some of them will never hit showrooms. They are the concept cars that serve to illustrate the direction companies are taking a few years down the line. Let’s take Renault, for example, and their electric Trezor concept: almost impossible to produce, gorgeous to behold – that’s how a concept should be like.
However, I was hoping the Paris Motor Show would be the stage for the global presentation of another more realistic concept-based car I have been praying to be built.
That car is the Clio RS16. You see, Renault Sport turns 40 this year and they thought they would do an after-hours project. Something they liked, something they would be proud of, something they would enjoy driving and something that would remind those who may had forgotten – not me – that Renault Sport is the world’s greatest hot-hatchback maker.
What? You don’t agree with me? Okay, fair enough, then let’s put together a list of their accomplishments, so you can google them if you like and then tell me I am wrong. Here goes: Renault Clio Williams, Renault Clio V6, Renault Clio Trophy 182, Renault Mégane R26.R, Renault Clio RS, Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy and Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R. Those are seven of the best driver’s cars ever built.
Mind you, only one of them, the Clio V6, is not front-wheel drive, always the hardest way to make a great car, which means those guys really are special at what they do. And, I must say, quite unique in the way they do it.
At this point, I think full disclosure is necessary before I proceed: despite the fact I have driven 600 horse power BMWs, 550 horse power Jaguars or 530 horse power Porsches, the fastest I have ever driven as a motor journalist, on a public road, with cars coming the other way, is the Mégane RS 275 Trophy.
Why – you might pertinently ask – and how, since that car has 275 horse power, less than half of those produced by the BMW M6 with the Competition Package I tried a few months back? Well, although I can say I drive faster than the average driver, I am not a gifted magician behind the wheel. Even if my father was rich and I had won the EuroMillions, I wouldn’t make it into F1.
What do I mean by that? Well, I can do things with a rear-wheel drive car that maybe 90% of the people can’t, but I can do many more things with a front-wheel drive Renualt Mégane RS 275 Trophy. And one of them is go fast, while having loads of fun.
Most front-wheel drive cars with a decent power output are quite boring to drive. You get a lot of understeer because the chassis and front suspension cannot cope with the power, there is no feedback from the steering and the balance of the whole thing is usually pretty anaemic. Not in a Mégane RS though. Everything is, to me at least, perfect, and I am very lucky because in all its iterations the Mégane RS is the car I have driven more times as a motor hack.
Why – you may pertinently ask yet again – if I own a couple of Ferraris and some other fast metal, haven’t I put one of those in the garage? I was afraid you would ask. Well, truth is, I just don’t think it is pretty enough.
Renault must have heard me, because they have just solved my problem: they fitted a Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy into a beautiful Clio RS body. And it looks perfect. Of all the spectacular ideas Renault Sport have had over the years, this one is, by far, the best.
Assemble a group of racing engineers and drivers, take a standard Renault Clio RS, open it up, take out its internals and fit the following components: the engine and six-speed manual gearbox from a Mégane RS 275 Trophy (wow), front brake discs and front axle from the Trophy-R (big wow), racing rear axle and rear spoiler from the Clio R3T rally car (major wow).
Now, because all of those were designed for different packages, some parts had to be made from scratch: the dedicated steer hub, for example, is a thing of wonder. Extended wheel-arches, a giant rear diffuser with a double-pipe Akrapovic exhaust, RS stickers on Sirius Yellow paint and the Renault Sport logo on the black roof are some of the final touches that make me crave this car like I have never craved a front-wheel drive car before in my whole life. Not even my own Abarth 500.
I tell you, I haven’t been sleeping well since May, when Renault showed the RS16 concept for the first time and Renault F1 Driver Kevin Magnussen drove it around the Monaco circuit on the eve of the Grand Prix. And just when I thought they would show it in Paris … they didn’t.
Rumour has it a decision has not been made as to whether the RS16 will make production or not. If it does, it should be limited to around 400 units, both left- and right-hand drive. And cost over €50,000. Ouch.
I have been showing Mrs. M a lot of videos of this car and telling her everything about it to see if I am allowed to buy one. I think she is almost sold. Why? Well, first, she thinks it looks amazing. Second: guess which press car she drove faster than any other? A Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy. Come on, honey, you know you want to ...
The ball is on your court, Renault.
By Guilherme Marques