Renault Clio Williams

Renault Clio Williams number 0001: hot hatch icon driven

Renault Clio Williams

If you watched Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars this week, you’ll recognise this car. It’s the very first Renault Clio Williams, originally owned by F1 team boss Frank Williams.

In the show, presenters Paul Cowland and Drew Pritchard use this beautifully original example – numbered ‘0001’ and pride of Renault UK’s heritage fleet – as a reference point for restoring their own Williams. 

That car (number 0026) was bought for £6,000 and the team spent £7,000 restoring it, before selling it for £15,000: a £2,000 profit. If that seems steep for a 27-year-old hatchback, you’ve never driven a Clio Williams…

Renault Clio Williams video review

I’ve lusted after a Williams since the age of 14. Twenty-five years on, my feelings for Sarah Michelle Gellar have faded (slightly), yet the Clio remains an object of unsatiated desire. Still, it’s always a good idea to meet your heroes. Right?

The Williams was launched in 1993, the same year Alain Prost clinched the Formula One world title for Williams-Renault. Its signature blue and gold colour scheme aped The Professor’s FW15C racer, while 147hp from a 2.0-litre four-pot puts it among the quickest hot hatches of the era.

Renault planned a limited run of 3,800 cars, but demand was such that near-identical Williams 2 and Williams 3 versions soon followed, upping total production to 12,100 cars.

Today, this coolest of Clios is a sought-after modern classic – with prices to match. Expect to pay £5,000 for a project, or up to £20,000 for something show-ready.

What’s it like to drive?

Renault Clio Williams

Seems I’m not the only one who wants a Williams. As the Clio arrives at Motoring Research HQ, the entire team decamps into the car park. Grown men wistfully shake their heads and sigh involuntarily. But nobody can tell us this car isn’t cool.

Those gold Speedline alloys are, of course, the pièce de résistance. A modest 15 inches in diameter, they fill out the arches perfectly, creating a squat, wheel-at-each-corner stance. The Speed Blue paintwork looks lustrous, too (a lighter Monaco Blue shade was used on the Williams 3). A bonnet bulge and a smattering of stickers also set the Williams apart from a common Clio.

Inside, you’ll find blue seatbelts and blue dials, including additional gauges for oil level, temperature and pressure. Also spot the blue-topped gearknob, blue carpets and ‘W’ logos (yep, also blue) on the sports seats.

Being one of the first batch, this car has a gold ‘Williams Renault 0001’ plaque on the dashboard. The subsequent Williams 2 and 3 weren’t numbered.

Renault Clio Williams

Big, softly-padded seats are the polar opposite of the hard-shell Recaros fitted to many a Clio RS, while the driving position is old-school hot hatch: upright, with arms splayed around a slightly-too-horizontal wheel. The non-turbo engine fires with a confident cough and I’m away – destination: the Hertfordshire countryside. If only Buffy could see me now.

Right, time to stop being a starstruck fanboy and write a rational, well-reasoned review. Except I can’t: I’m having far too much fun for that.

Driving a Clio Williams reminds you how anaesthetised cars have become. Its steering sparkles with finely-wrought feedback. Throttle response is instant and eager. And the gearlever moves like hot knife through brie. It’s deliciously tactile.

The engine is a peach, too: gruff and gravelly, with a mighty mid-range punch. In truth, it makes just 10hp more than the contemporary Clio 1.8 16v, while figures of 0-60mph in 7.8sec and 130mph are barely warm-hatch territory today. Nonetheless, the flyweight 990kg Williams still feels fast – especially when you reach a twisty road.

On narrow, hedge-lined lanes, the compact Renault would snap at the heels of many sports cars. Its all-independent suspension is supple, yet stubbornly resistant to roll, the front end biting into apices and refusing to let go.

Renault Clio Williams

Until you lift off… The spectre of snap-oversteer is always present – as highlighted by road-test reports of the time. But here, on relatively busy roads, and in Renault’s prized possession, this isn’t something I plan to investigate further.

Yes, the Williams will go sideways, but you’ll have to take somebody else’s word for it.

Tell me about buying one

Renault Clio Williams

The days of the cheap Clio Williams are already over and, although prices haven’t scaled the heady heights of the Peugeot 205 GTI, the best cars are already well into five figures.

Too much? I don’t think so. Limited numbers, critical acclaim and a sprinkling of competition kudos make the Williams an icon of its generation – and one of the best driver’s cars of the 1990s. As an investment, it looks a safe bet.

Differences in value between the three versions aren’t significant, so buy the best, most original car you can. Many succumbed to the 90s craze for modifying hot hatches, so avoid anything with big wheels and a bodykit. And don’t accept anything less than a fully-documented service history.

Renault Clio Williams

Rust is the main issue to be aware of when examining a Clio Williams. Check the sills, rear wheelarches and boot floor, as well as the bottom of the doors and tailgate. If panel gaps look uneven or there’s paint overspray on the window seals, the car has probably had a shunt. The slam panel under bonnet is another tell-tale sign: ensure it’s straight and corrosion-free.

With trim becoming scarce and, in some cases, only available second-hand, the condition of the interior is equally important for originality (and thus value). Seat bolsters can sag and the blue carpets may look tatty. Ensure all the electrics work and the condition of the steering wheel, gearlever and pedals tallies with the advertised mileage.

Renault Clio Williams

On a test-drive, look for blue smoke from the exhaust on start-up and listen for noisy tappets. A slipping clutch or graunchy gearbox could point to hard use, and neither is cheap to replace. Sloppy steering could be down to a loose column, while anything more than a smidgen of body-roll may mean leaking dampers or a damaged front anti-roll bar.

Remember: the Clio should feel brilliant to drive. If it doesn’t, there’s probably something awry.

Renault Clio Williams: verdict

Renault Clio Williams

So, I’ve met a hero and, unlike the time I was roundly blanked by Damon Albarn, all went well. The Clio Williams is as good as I dared hope: a feisty, back-to-basics hot hatch that enjoys a good thrashing. I mean, um… a careful drive.

With no air-con (or indeed airbags), it would take a dedicated soul to drive a Williams every day. I’d save mine as a toy for weekends, to blat along B-roads then spend hours lovingly polishing. Even after just a few hours, it’s secured a space in my soul. Sadly, I’ll have to content myself with watching re-runs of Salvage Hunters for now.

2020 Renault Clio and Captur gain hybrid tech

2020 Renault Clio and Captur go hybrid

Renault has unveiled a pair of new hybrids at the 2020 Brussels Motor Show. Meet the Clio and Captur E-Tech. Still want that Zoe?

With the arrival of the E-Tech derivatives, two of Renault’s best-selling cars now have the option of being electrified. An E-Tech variant of the Megane will follow soon.

E-Tech efficiency, emissions and range

2020 Renault Clio and Captur go hybrid

The Clio and Captur E-Tech both use a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, in combination with two electric motors. In the Captur, the battery is 9.8kWh with plug-in capability. The Clio can’t be plugged in, and has a 1.2kWh battery.

This allows the Captur an electric driving range of 30 miles (final WLTP certification pending) plus an electric-only top speed of 85mph. The plug-in crossover should be good for 188mpg and emit 34 g/km of CO2, although this requires ‘optimised usage of the 100 percent mode’.

Exact figures for the Clio have yet to be released What we do know is that, impressively, the E-Tech hybrid weighs just 10kg more than a Clio dCi 115 diesel. Renault says it should yield ‘significant reductions in fuel use and CO2 emissions, for up to 80 percent of urban driving time in 100 percent electric mode’.

The Clio is still very much urban-oriented, with a top speed in electric-only mode of just 38mph. A fuel saving of 40 percent in comparison with conventional cars is estimated. 

Renault E-Tech: from F1 to the road

2020 Renault Clio and Captur go hybrid

Renault says it has put Formula 1 learnings to use in developing the E-Tech platform. Specifically, the new clutch-less transmission is directly influenced by F1 efforts. It allows for a pure electric start, plus a reduced gap in acceleration during gear changes. 

Various levels of battery regeneration can be selected, but the electric motor will always recover power when coasting. When braking, the car operates regen first, with the pads and discs only coming in to assist. ‘Brake’ mode allows for one-pedal driving, similar to the Zoe.

E-Tech driving modes: Pure to Sport

2020 Renault Clio and Captur go hybrid

A new Pure driving mode in the Captur allows for all-electric driving. In Sport mode, a full press of the accelerator kicks both the electric motor and the petrol engine into action, for a combined acceleration effort. 

E-Save is another new mode, which conserves power, and allows the petrol engine to charge the battery. A minimum of 40 percent is always kept in reserve.

The series-parallel architecture means the cars can run in various states of hybridisation. Fifteen operating combinations are available and switched between automatically, depending on power requirements and battery charge state.

Renault’s electric dreams

2020 Renault Clio and Captur go hybrid

Adding hybrid power to the Clio might seem like a sideways step for Renault, given it has offered the similarly-sized Zoe for some time. However, its plan is wholesale electrification, in one form or another. By 2022, Groupe Renault wants eight fully electric models, and 12 electrified (hybrid) models in its line-up.


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Renault owners can control their home from the car

Renault owners can control their home from the car

Owners of selected Renault cars can now control various objects of their home from inside their car.

New cars equipped with the latest Easy Link connected system will offer the service, which uses technology developed by Otodo, a French company specialising in smart homes.

As well as controlling household items, Renault owners will be able to send instructions from their home to a connected vehicle via a smartphone or connected speaker.

There are two available scenarios, with different instructions associated with each. These are:

  • Leaving Home – puts the home into ‘sleep’ mode. This could include switching the central heating to energy-saving mode, closing the shutters and turning off the lights
  • Arriving Home – ‘wakes’ the home. Drivers will be prompted to activate the scenarios based on the distance between the vehicle and home

Users must press ‘OK’ on the Renault’s touchscreen to activate a scenario. The instructions are sent to the home automatically and simultaneously.

Renault home tech a ‘trailblazing experience’

Renault Easy Link connected home

Jean-Francois Labal, marketing and partnership head for connected cars and services at Groupe Renault, said: “Cars need to blend into our digital lives. With this service, we’re offering our customers a trailblazing experience and a completely secure system to connect their home’s connected objects to their vehicle.

“The interface to set it up is very intuitive and it comes with two advantages: it’s automatic so it makes life simpler and it saves energy by switching lights and heating on and off as needed.”

Eric Denoyer, CEO at Otodo, added: “Our platform has enabled Groupe Renault to create a simple and universal link between smart cars and smart homes, that works across brands and technologies. Very soon, everyone will be able to use this platform to organise their daily life from their car.”

The connected technology will be previewed at CES Las Vegas from 7 to 10 January, before rolling out on the all-new Clio, Captur and Zoe electric car later in 2020.

New Renault Zoe interior recycles seatbelts and plastic bottles

Renault Zoe 100 percent recyclable material cabin

Renault will be using a new fabric for its car seats made of 100 percent recycled material. The patented fabric, which will be used in the Zoe electric car, is made out of recycled seatbelts, textile straps and plastic bottles.

A total of eight square metres of the Zoe’s cabin will be covered by the material. This includes the dashboard, gear lever surround and door fittings.

Renault Zoe 100 percent recyclable material cabin

The covering has been tested for the rigours of daily driving, including wear-resistance, ability to be cleaned and resisting sun damage.

CO2 emissions from manufacturing are reduced by more than 60 percent in comparison with conventional materials. The production process doesn’t use thermal transformation, which is very CO2-intensive.

Renault Zoe 100 percent recyclable material cabin

“Faced with the challenge of the energy transition, industries have an essential role to play in changing their production methods and reducing their environmental impact,” said Jean-Philippe Hermine, director of environmental strategy at Renault.

“This approach contributes to the Group’s commitment to reduce the environmental impacts of each vehicle throughout its life cycle and to reduce its global carbon footprint by -25% in 2022 compared to 2010.”

Renault Megane RS 300 Trophy review: happy hardcore

Renault Megane RS Trophy

Nürburgring lap times are a Big Deal for hot hatches, and Renault has recently reclaimed the record. The Megane Trophy-R scorched around 14.2 miles and 154 corners in 3.7 seconds less than the Honda Civic Type R. Its time of 7min 40.1sec is also within spitting distance of a 2008 Porsche 911 GT2. That’s the pace of progress. Even so, the car’s price tag has dominated headlines.

A ‘standard’ Megane Trophy-R will cost you £51,140, but the fully-loaded Nürburgring Record edition is (deep breath) £72,140. Yep, for a front-wheel-drive hatchback. Most of that additional cash goes on carbon fibre wheels, which save 2.1kg per corner, and carbon-ceramic brakes. Other trick bits – included on all cars – include Öhlins adjustable dampers, Sabelt race seats, bespoke Bridgestone track tyres and a titanium Akrapovič exhaust. Just 500 will be sold worldwide, with 32 bound for the UK.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

The Megane Trophy here (note the absence of ‘R’) isn’t that car. It shares the same 300hp 1.8-litre engine and six-speed manual gearbox, but is 113kg heavier and comes with considerably less carbon. On the plus side, you get rear seats, sound deadening and proper infotainment. At £31,835, it’s also less than half the price of the ’Ring record version. What a difference a single letter makes.

Renault Megane RS Trophy

Not that the Trophy is exactly a soft option. Essentially, this is a faster, more focused take on the £27,835 Megane RS (keep up at the back!) with ceramic turbo bearings for an extra 20hp, grooved brake discs, the RS Monitor on-board telemetry system and the Cup chassis option. The latter includes stiffer suspension, a Torsen limited-slip diff and hydraulic bump stops. No doubt, this middle-tier Megane means business.

It looks the part, too, especially in £1,300 Liquid Yellow metallic. Where the Civic Type R is all OTT scoops and spoilers, Renault relies on taut, muscular curves. It bristles with kinetic energy even standing still. However, I’m far from sold on the Trophy’s unique 19-inch ‘Jerez’ alloys. Their design resembles the dated TSW Venom (remember those, Max Power readers?) and the red pinstripes are just naff.

Inside, the Megane is also a mixed bag. Its leather and Alcantara steering wheel feels great and the adjustable Recaro bucket seats are fantastic – albeit a pricey £1,500 option. It’s also decently practical, with five doors, ample rear legroom and a boot that swallows a baby buggy. Perceived quality could be better, though, and Renault’s portrait-style media system seems needlessly complicated. At least it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Renault Megane RS Trophy

God knows how the ‘R’ drives because the Trophy is sharper than lemon zest. It feels up on its toes, totally lacking in hysteresis. The secret is four-wheel steering, which bestows a rabid agility that seems almost unnatural. The Megane changes direction like no other hot hatch, diff biting hard into bends. It must be sensational on track – where it will oversteer in extremis – but the pay-off on the road is suspension that endlessly jitters and jolts. A comfortable car, this ain’t.

As for the revised engine, it’s responsive and aggressive, yet hardly overflowing with character despite the growls and pops from the centre-exit exhaust. The beefier brakes inspire confidence and the manual ’box suits the car well – probably better than the £1,700 paddle-shift auto.

The Megane Trophy stays true to its Renault Sport roots by being the most intense, involving car in its class. Does that make it best? Well, if you’ll allow me to clamber onto the fence… not necessarily. The new Ford Focus ST is a better all-rounder and the Civic Type R is more intuitive – if less exciting – to drive. It’s not all about lap times, after all.

Price: £31,835

0-62mph: 5.7 secs

Top speed: 162mph

CO2 G/KM: 183

MPG combined: 34.4

Renault Megane RS Trophy: in pictures

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‘Second life‘ batteries used to power Renault electric boat

Black Swan electric boat in Paris

Renault has partnered with Seine Alliance and Green-Vision to launch the first all-electric boat powered by ‘second life’ batteries.

The Black Swan can carry up to eight passengers and is powered by four batteries removed from Renault electric cars. They power a pair of 20kW electric motors to deliver two hours of cruising. A full charge takes two to three hours.

The boat – a converted Italian craft – was originally powered by an internal combustion engine. With the inner workings removed, the Black Swan weighs 278kg less than before.

Stainless steel housings have been designed for the batteries to ensure safe, water-tight operating conditions. It is hoped that electric boats can improve air quality and reduce noise pollution in and around inner-city rivers.

The Black Swan has been demonstrated on the River Seine in Paris and is a precursor to what Renault is calling a “new generation of boats”. Its electric car batteries are reconditioned and repurposed to give them a ‘second life’.

Renault electric boat

Gilles Normand, senior vice president of electric vehicles at Renault, said: “We are proud of having contributed to the Black Swan project alongside Seine Alliance and Green-Vision.

“Once again, this approach has shown that, used in a second life as energy storage units, the batteries from our electric vehicles represent an essential lever for the acceleration of the energy transition.”

It is hoped that the Black Swan will be pressed into active service in the first quarter of 2020, once the necessary government permits have been obtained.

Didier Spade, chairman of Seine Alliance, added: “As host to the Olympic Games in 2024, Paris has a duty to provide innovative solutions for the environment.

“Seine has already shown itself to be exemplary in respect of energy performances in the transport sector. Our company has once again brought an electric boat project to fruition with the aim of raising the awareness of all of the river’s users.”

Celebrating 120 years of radical Renaults

Radical Renaults

Renault has packed a great deal of craziness into 120 years of history. In 1898, founder Louis Renault climbed Rue Lepic in Paris at the wheel of his Voiturette, pocketing 12 firm orders and kick-starting more than a century of French eccentricity and innovation. Here, we celebrate 25 of the most radical Renault ever built, including the car that climbed that Parisian hill at the end of the 19th century. There might be some truth in the rumour that many of these just happen to be favourites of the author… 

Renault Voiturette Type A

Radical Renaults

This is where it all began. In 1897, Louis Renault established a small workshop at this family home to build a small car for his own personal use. The Voiturette was finished by Christmas 1898, so Renault invited a few friends over to see how it would tackle the steep Rue Lepic in Paris. It featured a front-mounted engine and a direct-drive gearbox patented by Louis Renault. Having received 12 orders – not to mention a few down payments – Renault pressed ahead with a production version. It was unveiled to the public in June 1899, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Renault Espace

Radical Renaults

In 1982, having been shunned by Peugeot, Matra jumped into bed with Renault and engaged in some French kissing. Two years later, Renault gave birth to the Espace: a one-box MPV styled to look like a French TGV train. Was the world ready for a car with a living room in the rear? In short, no. Renault sold NINE vehicles in the first month, as the buying public failed to embrace the innovative Espace. The hesitancy soon gave way to hysteria, as European families grew to love the flexibility of the MPV.

Renault Espace F1

Radical Renaults

How do you celebrate 10 years of a popular MPV? Go on a picnic? Visit a theme park? Make a few more babies? Not if you’re Renault. Instead, Matra teamed up with Williams to create the Espace F1, which used a lightweight carbon fibre chassis and a mid-mounted 3.5-litre V10 engine producing 800hp. This thing could hit 62mph in 2.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 194mph quicker than you could say “Mummy, I think I’m going to be sick.”

Renault Twizy

Radical Renaults

First seen as a concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Renault Twizy remains the cheapest – and smallest – electric ‘car’ you can buy in 2019. Technically, it’s a quadricycle, packing a pair of seats that are open to the worst of the British weather. It’ll cover 62 miles on a single charge, which is ideal, because you’re unlikely to want to spend too much longer in the Twizy. Great fun in small doses, but the fact that it has no true rivals speaks volumes about the demand for such a vehicle.

Renault Twizy F1

Radical Renaults

How much Renault Sport magic can you throw at a Renault Twizy? Enough, it turns out, to make something utterly bonkers. The headlines are compelling: a KERS unit derived from Renault Sport’s F1 experience, Michelin slick tyres from a single-seat racing car, plus a proper motorsport steering wheel from a Formula Renault 3.5 racer. It made a sound akin to an orchestra of electric mowers, Harrier Jump Jets and Dyson vacuum cleaners, while the acceleration was as scary as it was manic. We should know – we managed to bag a drive in the fun-size F1 car.

Renault Avantime

Radical Renaults

Renault has never been afraid to push boundaries. There comes a point, however, at which you must admit defeat and return to more conventional vehicles. Even with the benefit of hindsight, the Renault Avantime looks like a vision too far. In fact, it’s rather tricky to define. A coupe-like MPV with two heavy doors, frameless windows and limited rear space. The Avantime is a cult classic – and a guilty pleasure – but even its most ardent fans must admit that it was little more than an automotive folly.

Renault 5 Turbo

Radical Renaults

As one of the earliest examples of a supermini, the humble Renault 5 was a rather radical development. Launched in 1971, it was sold alongside the Renault 4, establishing a new audience for the company and going on to become France’s most widely sold model. But the most radical version was the 5 Turbo – a mid-engined and turbocharged homologation special, built using expensive bespoke parts and designed for world rallying.

Renault Sport Clio V6

Radical Renaults

Even by Renault’s standards, shoehorning a Laguna-sourced V6 engine into a Renault Clio is a crazy idea. In truth, the Renault Clio V6 answered a question nobody asked, but it created what was essentially a supercar in a supermini suit. Not that it looked like a regular Clio, with its wide arches, 17-inch rims and twin exhausts. Early cars were unruly, but phase two cars are easier to tame.

Renault Sport Spider

Radical Renaults

Often dismissed as the ‘French Elise’, the Renault Sport Spider actually arrived before the all-conquering Lotus. It was even more hardcore than the Elise – the windscreen and roof were optional. Power was sourced from the 2.0-litre engine found in the Clio Williams, while doors that rise upwards give it supercar-levels of kerb appeal. 

Renault Wind

Radical Renaults

The Renault Wind: gone, and almost forgotten. Although it was based on the Twingo, Renault went to extraordinary lengths to make the Wind feel like a bespoke sports car. Every body panel was unique to the Wind, while the dashboard, centre console and door trims were new. Thanks to its low weight and Renault Sport suspension, it was also pretty good to drive. Yet it was a sales flop – Renault must have made a loss on every Wind it sold, certainly in the UK, where just 2,300 were sold. With a strong gust of wind behind it, the misunderstood Renault could have been a huge hit. Sadly, it flopped faster than a windsock in a light breeze.

Renault 4CV

Radical Renaults

The Renault 4CV was the pick-me-up the French needed after the Second World War. It was, if you like, Renault’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle, powered by a rear-mounted engine and helping to mobilise an entire nation. Launched in 1946, production continued until 1961, by which time the 4CV had spawned countless variations, including a convertible and a formidable sports model. Jean Rédélé used the 4CV as the basis for his Alpine racers, inspiring the creation of the illustrious manufacturer of the same name.

Renault 4

Radical Renaults

If the 4CV was Renault’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle, this was its response to the Citroen 2CV. Whisper this, but the Renault 4 was superior to the 2CV, offering a more practical interior, a conventional driving experience, and a huge tailgate, before huge tailgates were a thing. More than eight million Renault 4s were sold, making it one of Europe’s most successful cars. 

Renault 16

Radical Renaults

Talking about revolutions… The Renault 16 was a pioneering hatchback, introduced at a time when saloons ruled the highways and byways of Europe. Launched in 1965, the 16 was at least a decade ahead of the curve, pioneering the concept of a large, front-wheel-drive family hatchback with the practicality of an estate car. One could even argue that the Renault 16 TX was a forerunner to the modern hot hatch. 

Renault Twin’Run

Radical Renaults

The Renault Twin’Run paid homage to the 5 Turbo and Clio V6, but unlike its forebears, this crazy Twingo never made it beyond concept stage. Which is a shame, because the rear-wheel-drive Twin’Run was powered by the Megane Trophy’s 3.5-litre V6 engine, which was enough to give it a top speed of 155mph. The 0-62mph time was polished off in just 4.5 seconds. The Twin’Run is a new radical we hoped Renault would build.

Renault Type AK

Radical Renaults

In 1906, France hosted the first Grand Prix. The 12-hour race took place on a closed public road circuit in Le Mans and was won by Hungarian Ferenc Szisz in a Renault AK. Since 1900, Szisz had been employed as an engineer and test pilot by Louis Renault, and this victory set the course for the company’s illustrious racing future. The Type AK featured turbocharging, pneumatic valves and exhaust blowing – all highly innovative for the period.

Renault 40CV NM

Radical Renaults

The Renault 40CV was built with one purpose: to set unbeatable land speed records. Powered by a 9.1-litre engine, the 40CV set a record at the Ile-de-France circuit, hitting an average speed of 110.9mph, before setting a 24-hour record at 87.6mph. Later, with a more streamlined body and Renault’s first open radiator grille, the 40CV could hit speeds in excess of 120mph.

Renault Vel Satis

Radical Renaults

Another car from Renault’s crazy era. Which? labelled the Vel Satis “part large family hatchback, part MPV, part luxury express”, going on to claim that it was designed to be an upmarket version of the Laguna. There was one problem: the world didn’t want an upmarket Laguna. In fairness, the Vel Satis was comfortable, luxurious and well built, but only the French president truly appreciated it.

Renault Safrane Biturbo

Radical Renaults

Renault has a habit of building cars nobody wants – or needs. The Safrane Biturbo is a good case in point. Renault sent the 3.0-litre V6 version of its wafty saloon to German tuners Hartge, where a pair of KKK turbochargers were installed to increase power to 268hp. This power was sent to the road via a Quadra all-wheel-drive system, with the Safrane also packing electronically adjustable shocks. Finally, visual clout was applied courtesy of Irmscher. Nobody cared – just 806 Biturbos were built. Shame.

Renault Sport Megane R26.R

Radical Renaults

A decade on, the Renault Sport Megane R26.R remains one of the greatest hot hatches in the world. Pistonheads called it a ‘front-drive Porsche GT3’, which is a great way of saying ‘hardcore Megane’. All but the essentials were stripped away in the name of lightness – no rear seats, no passenger, side or curtain airbags, no climate control and no radio. Even the glass for the rear and side windows was ditched in favour of polycarbonate. The result: the ultimate hot hatch.

Renault 900

Radical Renaults

The Espace wasn’t Renault’s first attempt at a people carrier. Back in 1959, Renault unveiled the 900, in which the passengers faced backwards. Power was sourced from a pair of Dauphine engines to create a V8 powertrain, while Ghia handled the unusual body styling. There were two versions: one with a rear screen that tilted up to provide access to the boot, and another with rear seats that folded forward for the same purpose. With the benefit of hindsight, the Espace was a better way forward for family motoring.

Renault AG1

Radical Renaults

The Renault AG1 was the first Parisian taxi, securing its place in French motoring history. Passengers could enjoy fine weather thanks to its convertible-top cabin. The AG1 became known as ‘The Taxi of the Marne’ – a reference to its role in the First Word War, when it transported soldiers to the River Marne in order to reach the front line.

Renault Etoile Filante

Radical Renaults

In 1956, Renault took the Etoile Filante to the Bonneville Salt Flats, where it hit an average 191mph over a kilometre and 192mph over 5km. Etoile Filante is French for shooting star – a fitting name for such a fast and record-breaking vehicle.

Renault Nervasport Des Records

Radical Renaults

A decade or so after the 40CV, Louis Renault tasked his team with building another record-breaking car. The rules were simple: the engine would be from a standard production car, while the body would be supported by a wooden frame on a standard chassis, with the bodywork crafted by an aeronautical engineer. After 48 hours, three minutes and 14 seconds, the Nervasport crossed the finishing line at Montlhery, breaking nine international records and three world records.

Renault Twingo

Radical Renaults

2020 Renault Clio prices and specifications revealed

2020 Renault Clio price and specs

Renault has announced prices and an expected delivery date for the new Clio. Buyers will start receiving cars in October 2019, having paid from £14,295 for the privilege.

As standard, the 2020 Clio comes well equipped. All cars get full LED headlights, air conditioning, cruise control, DAB and advanced driver assistance systems.

2020 Renault Clio price and specs

For comparison, the fourth-generation Clio, which debuted in 2012, currently starts from £13,620.

Upgrading from Play to Iconic specification costs from £15,295. This adds keyless keycard access, rear parking sensors and LED fog lamps. On the inside, you get a leather steering wheel and seven-inch iteration of the Easy Link multimedia system with sat-nav, which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2020 Renault Clio price and specs

Leapfrog to the top of the line-up and R.S. Line replaces GT Line. The latter is available at present from £16,370, but the new R.S. Line is £17,795 minimum. It gets a rear-view camera and front parking sensors as standard.

New to the Clio range is the S Edition, which sits below the R.S. Line. It takes a less sporty approach, but includes the Smart Cockpit 9.3-inch multimedia screen and 10-inch TFT instrument cluster. We don’t know yet how much S Edition cars will cost.

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All together, Play, Iconic, S Edition and R.S. Line make up Renault’s ‘EasyLife’ model strategy.

2020 Renault Clio prices in full

Spec/Engine/GearboxVED (tax) year onePrice OTR (£)
Play SCe 75£170£14,295
Play TCe 100£130£15,295
Play TCe 100 CVT£150£16,595
Play Blue dCi 85£150£17,295
Iconic SCe 75£170£15,295
Iconic TCe 100£130£16,295
Iconic TCe 100 CVT£150£17,595
Iconic Blue dCi 85£150£18,295

2020 Renault Clio price and specs

S Edition TCe 100£130TBC
S Edition TCe 100 CVT£150TBC
S Edition TCe 130 EDC£170TBC
S Edition Blue dCi 85£150TBC
R.S. Line TCe 100£130£17,795
R.S. Line TCe 100 CVT£150£19,095
R.S. Line TCe 130 EDC£170£20,295
R.S. Line Blue dCi 85£130£19,795

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Renault Megane R.S. Trophy-R Nurburgring Record pack

Renault really is asking £72,140 for this new Megane

Renault Megane RS Trophy-R Nurburgring Record pack

Renault has stunned performance car fans by revealing the limited-run Megane R.S. Trophy-R hot hatch will cost from £51,140 – with the Nurburgring Record edition priced at a staggering £72,140.

The breathtaking prices are way in excess of the standard Megane R.S. RRP of £27,835.

Trophy-R models only have 20 horsepower more than the regular 280hp model, too.

Renault Megane R.S. Trophy-R Nurburgring Record pack

Renault justifies the price by saying the new model has ‘many bespoke, lightweight parts’. These include Ohlins dampers, an Akrapovic titanium exhaust, a carbon composite bonnet and a carbon rear diffuser.

The interior is stripped out; the rear seats have been removed and race-style composite Sabelt seats fitted in the front. 

Renault Megane R.S. Trophy-R Nurburgring Record pack

It weighs an impressive 130 kg less than the standard Megane R.S., which is how it was able to break the front-wheel-drive production car lap record at both the Nurgurgring and Spa Francorchamps in Belgium.

Further weight can be saved with the £63,140 Carbon Wheel variant. Exotic carbon fibre wheels are fitted, which cut 2kg. They are meant for racetrack use: they can be stored in tailored bags in a cradle behind the front seats when you drive on the road.

Renault Megane R.S. Trophy-R Nurburgring Record pack

The £72,140 Nurburgring Record model uses the same wheels, plus bigger front brakes with gold Brembo calipers, and a ‘dynamic air intake’ in the front bumper that saves 2kg.

Only 500 examples of the Megane R.S. Trophy-R (a car costing more than the two-seater Alpine A110 sports car, also built by Renault) will be built globally – and just 32 are coming to the UK.

Renault 5 GT Turbo review: hot hatch hero still excites

Renault 5 GT Turbo

When I was 17, there were two things I yearned for: a girlfriend and a Renault 5 GT Turbo. I eventually acquired the former (credit: Dutch courage and Clearasil), but the latter slipped through my fingers.

Fast-forward two decades and the fast Five is no longer the darling of sex-starved teenagers, Maxers and TWOCers: it’s now a bona fide classic car. And with prices for 80s hot hatches spiralling skywards, you may have already missed the boat.


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Renault 5 GT Turbo. Ever see one back in the day that DIDN’T have its yellow fogs blazing?

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This 1989 Phase Two GT Turbo belongs to Renault UK and must be one of the few completely standard examples left. As it emerged from the delivery truck, squat and perfectly proportioned, the excitement in the MR office was palpable. How would it measure up on the road?

Can a 122hp hatchback still excite in 2019? Or is the Supercinq, like an inexpedient ex., better left in the past?

What are its rivals?

Think ‘1980s hot hatches’ and one car above all comes to mind: the Peugeot 205 GTI. However, for all the 205’s fleet-footed brilliance, the standard (1.6-litre) version is outgunned by the GT Turbo for power and acceleration. And the Renault is cheaper to buy. More on that later.

Other competitors for what Car magazine frequently called the ‘hot hatch crown’ included the Ford Fiesta XR2, Fiat Uno Turbo and Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk2.

The Golf is the sensible choice (no change there, then) while the Fiesta offers rough-and ready fun. As for the Fiat, finding one will be your greatest challenge; there is just one for sale in the UK at the time of writing.

What engine does it use?

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Unlike the original, mid-engined Renault 5 Turbo, the GT Turbo’s powerplant isn’t shoehorned behind the seats. Instead, it resides beneath the front-hinged bonnet, driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. So far, so conventional.

But Renault had secret weapon. Clamping a turbocharger to the humble 1.4-litre lump unleashed 117hp from launch in 1985, upped to 122hp in Phase Two models from 1987.

In a car weighing just 853kg (the outgoing Renaultsport Clio weighs around 400kg more), 0-62mph took 7.5 seconds and a top speed was 120mph. As the TV ad of the time gleefully revealed, the 5 left the 205 and Uno trailing in its wake.

What’s it like to drive?

Renault 5 GT Turbo

A reminder of what good, old-fashioned turbo lag feels like. Up to around 4,000rpm, the 5 feels decidedly ordinary, certainly not quick. Then the Garrett blower takes a breath, the steering wheel squirms and you blast forwards, grabbing the next gear in a fabulous, frenetic rush.

Car manufacturers have spent years ironing out the on/off effect of turbo lag. However, for me at least, this belated blast of boost is a big part of the retro Renault’s appeal. It’s a nitrous hit for the head, one that provokes me into driving this 29-year-old classic harder than I probably should.

The car’s’s dynamic repertoire is a bit of a mixed bag, too. The steering is direct, but lacks the telepathic connection of the 205, while ride comfort is poor – despite tiny 13-inch alloys and 55-profile tyres. As with the powertrain, you need to up the pace to make the Five come alive.

Grab it by the scruff and the GT Turbo is still a quick cross-country machine. The front end bites hard into corners, pulling the rear around neatly with barely a hint of body-roll. Commit yourself and it will cock an inside wheel in classic 80s hot hatch style, but don’t worry – there are no snap-oversteer demons here. The brakes are better than many cars of this era, too.

Reliability and running costs

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Funky and flaky in equal measure, the Renault 5’s interior conforms to every cliché about old French cars. Speed humps and potholes are greeted with a chorus of plastic squeaks, while one of the minor gauges nonchalantly went on strike mid-drive.

Of greater concern is the temperamental Turbo’s dislike of hot starts. Tweaks to the Phase Two cars, including revised ignition mapping and a water-cooled turbo are said to have improved matters. Nonetheless, be prepared for less-than-perfect reliability.

On the plus side, classic insurance means the GT Turbo is no longer an underwriter’s bête noire. And fuel economy of 39.8mpg (measured at a constant 56mph) still looks respectable today.

Could I drive it every day?

Renault 5 GT Turbo

You could… but I’d advise against it. Rain and road salt will ravage any 30-year-old supermini. And while mechanical repairs to the simple, overhead-valve engine should be straightforward, fixing bodywork is a pricier problem.

I’d keep my GT Turbo garaged over winter and save it for the summer months. Indeed, secure storage is advisable year-round; these cars hail from the ‘coathanger and screwdriver’ era of car theft. Fit a tracker to protect your investment, too.

Lastly, the 5 also comes from a time long before Renault aced Euro NCAP crash tests. There’s no safety equipment to speak of, its doors are barely thicker than a biscuit tin and the interior trim has all the structural integrity of a croissant. This is a car for clear June mornings, not murky January evenings.

How much should I pay?

Renault 5 GT Turbo

‘A lot more than a few years ago’ is the short answer. Like all hot hatches of the 1980s, the Renault has rocketed in value as folks who grew up lusting after them finally have the wherewithal to buy them.

There’s another factor here, of course: attrition rate. Many GT Turbos were crashed and many more modified, leaving few good examples left. I found less than 20 GT Turbos for sale, and only a handful of those were standard-spec.

Starting price for a project is around £4,000, with decent, usable cars costing from £7,000. You’ll pay around £15,000 for a rust-free, original car like the one here: on par with a Mk2 Golf GTI, but still cheaper than many fast Fords. It’s also around half the price of an equivalent 205 GTI.

What should I look out for?

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Here are our top five Renault 5 GT Turbo buying tips:

  • Originality is key – particularly when it comes to future values. Many of these cars were modified, but turning up the boost won’t do wonders for reliability. Likewise, the last thing that fragile interior needs is stiffer, lower suspension.
  • Check for rust, particularly on doors, inner wings and behind the bodykit.
  • Look for evidence of crash damage, such as uneven panel gaps or paint overspray. Remember, many of these cars were stolen in their prime.
  • Test all the electrics and check for missing or broken interior trim. Some parts are becoming very difficult to find.
  • Join the Renault Turbo Owners Club – a great resource for parts, advice and discounts.

Should I buy one?

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Like yours truly, the GT Turbo feels its age. From its modest power output to its frankly woeful build quality, it shows just how far cars – in particular hot hatches – have progressed in three decades.

No matter. Driving this pocket rocket made me feel 17 again. And, before you ask, that’s a vibrant, devil-may-care 17, rather than a greasy, socially-awkward one. The Renault goads you into driving fast, then rewards with flashes of boisterous brilliance when you do. It’s flawed, but beguiling.

Yes, a 205 GTI is ultimately more fun. And a Golf GTI will be easier to live with. But if you grew up lusting after a GT Turbo, neither of those facts may matter. Buy carefully and Régie’s little ruffian could prove a sound investment, too. Time to hit the classifieds…

Pub fact

Renault 5 GT Turbo

The original 1980 Renault 5 Turbo was a homologation special: bred for rallying, then sanitised (a little) for the street. It had a 160hp 1.4-litre engine atop the rear wheels, making it the most powerful French car at the time.

Renault’s second bout of mid-engined madness came 18 years later, with the Clio V6 of 1998. Read our Clio V6 Retro Road Test to see how this hyper hatch stacks up today.

Renault 5 GT Turbo: in pictures

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Celebrating Renault’s heritage

Inside Renault’s secret classic car collection