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3 Oct 2008

Fernando's co. car: Renault Clio RenaultSport F1 Team R27

In the second and final installment of Fridae Auto Club's take on French hot hatches, we look at the newly launched mouthful of a name Renault Clio RenaultSport F1 Team R27.

For many of us, myself included, who fantasise about being a professional race car driver, a hot hatch like the Clio R27 could be the perfect ride should we want to channel our inner Fernando Alonso (who drove his Renault to victory at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix on Sep 28). The Clio R27 is arguably the most driver focused hot hatch straight out from a factory as the transformation from the regular version of the Clio III is quite an engineering feat.

French chic design at its best
The Renault supermini was conceived in an era when superminis were being supersized, hence the significant growth in size, with a class leading wheelbase at 2575mm. The designers were successful at masking the larger dimensions as the Clio continues to look crisp and purposeful. It had also withstood the test of time as the Clio was launched in Europe three years ago. However, the omission of a rear roof spoiler seems to be at odds with its sporting aspirations, almost suggesting an incomplete hatch profile. The 17" Anthractie alloys are sub-zero cool looking and the rear diffuser underneath the bumper is a neat touch as it is both form and function.

Spinning Around
The Clio R27 is a highly recommended car for chicken-legged muscle queens. Frequent gear changes via the swift shifting six-speed manual gearbox are required to keep the engine revs high to extract meaningful performance from the screaming 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine. Not much power comes on until at least 5000 rpm, hence you would need to put in hard labour to get this engine to sing, think tennis diva Maria Sharapova's on-court grunt (read: roar). However once on song, the Clio R27 provides a nirvana moment trapped in speed trills.

Cocking Around
Minimal body roll and ultra keen steering gives clear indications of capabilities of the Clio R27. Rather unexpectedly, there is a generous amount of suspension travel, giving the French hot hatch a comfortable and controlled ride. Torque-steer is not possible as RenaultSport's famed double axis front suspension reins in the power quickly without any wastage. The Clio R27 has proven to be a very special drive, displaying Renault's rich heritage in hot hatches. The only disappointment about the entire dynamic set-up of the Clio R27 would be the slight artificial feeling from the steering which could be a result of the layers of electronics that are required to contain the high power output. A small distraction from the otherwise well engineered compact hot rod. The engineers at Dieppe engineering facilities (RenaultSports F1's base) are clearly a talented bunch.

Inside the Clio R27
Highlights of the interior of the Clio R27 would be the Recaro sports seats which seem to fit me snuggly; however bigger-sized folks might have to look elsewhere. Superior packaging has ensured that there is adequate room for two in front for daily runabouts and the occasional rear passengers will not cry abuse. The quality of the Clio R27's interior fittings is praiseworthy as soft felt moldings are abound on most contact points. Recent products from French carmakers including Renault have proved to be worthy rivals of the Germans with regards to quality interiors.

This is without a doubt the sharpest-driving hot hatch I have been in. Most would gasp at the steep outlay. Otherwise, Renault has done well to establish itself as the maker of the hottest French hot hatch in the market today.

Renault Clio Renaultsport F1 Team R27

Front, transverse, twin cam 16-valve, 4 cyls in line, 1,998cc, petrol

Transmission 6-speed Manual, Front Wheel Drive
Max. Power 200hp@7250rpm
Max. Torque 215nm@5500rpm
0-100 km/h 6.9 secs
Top speed 223 km/h
Fuel Economy 8.4 km/L (combined cycle)
CO2 Emissions 199 g/km (Euro IV compliant)
Dimensions (L x W x H) / Weight

3,991x1,768x1,484 / 1,240 Kg

Price with COE* $114,900

*Prices quoted are indicative of prices in Singapore. Please contact your local distributor for prices in your country.

Fridae Auto Club congratulates Fernando Alonso for winning the world's first F1 night race in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix despite being in a non front running race car!

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