Road Review – Renault Clio RS 18 F1

There is a whole legion of jokes that start with “What is the similarity between…?”, and this one, which is no joke, queries the similarity between a Bumble Bee and the Renault Clio RS18 – the most obvious and immediate response being both are black with yellow markings.


However, that is not the main one. The Bumble Bee is aerodynamically anatomically incorrect for flight – in other words, it should not be able to fly but simply does not know that, so goes ahead and does it anyway.

While not intended to fly per se, the Clio does some serious low flying as one of the most exciting of the small pocket rockets on the market – and the similarity here is both punch well above their respective fighting weights.

Renault’s best-selling model now moves into its fourth generation and is one of the first Renault models to sport the brand’s new visual identity featuring a bolder version of its trademark diamond-shaped logo at the front.

This small car has consistently achieved Top 5 performer status in the extremely competitive AB New Hatch segment.

The Renault Sport Clio is one of the most popular ‘hot hatches’, with a proven track record as one of the best handling and most rewarding cars on the market.


The latest addition to the Clio RS Range, the RS 18 F1 was preceded by numerous derivatives including the 1st RS model, the Renault Clio Williams (1993) that was designed to celebrate the success of the Renault-powered F1 team at the time.

More powerful Renault Sport models emerged post the Clio Phase 2’s revamp, in the guise of the Renault Sport Clio V6, with the 3,0-litre V6 engine housed in the rear of the vehicle, with increased power output, making it the fastest model to this day. The limited edition Renault Sport Clio 182 Trophy launched in 2005 was also popular amongst Renault Sport enthusiasts.

The long line of Clio RS models was boosted with the local introduction of the Renault Sport Clio 200 and 200 Cup, the Clio 20th Anniversary model, which was launched in 2010 in celebration of Clio’s 20th year, was distinguished by its Pearl White paint, black alloys and black roof.

The model line-up was further complemented through the Clio RS Red Bull, with its distinct colour scheme and much larger 18-inch wheels.

Now comes the Clio RS18 F1 that bears the same name as the Renault F1 race car competing in the Grand Prix. It also features the same iconic colour scheme as the Renault Sport F1 Team car: its Deep Black cloak and accented Liquid Yellow.


The feisty Clio RS 18 is powered by a 1,6-litre turbo-charged engine, generating 162 kW of power at 6 050 r/min with peak torque of 280 Nm at 2 000 r/min. This is good for a rest to 100 km/h sprint of 6,6 seconds and a top speed of 235 km/h. The 1-kilometre sprint takes up 26,4 seconds.

Exhaust emissions are 135 g/km of CO2 and the overall average fuel consumption is stated at 5,9 l/100 km but who are we trying to kid here? I could not find a single excuse in the time I had with the car to drive slower than the ‘whoopee’ zone unless caught in traffic.

Actual fuel consumption is going to be higher, probably much higher. Deal with it!

It features a lowered and stiffened Trophy chassis – front suspension featuring hydraulic compression stops – and an Akrapovic exhaust system, the New Clio RS 18 is a purebred sports car, designed to be driven.

Clio RS 18 boasts Launch Control that is activated with paddles at hand, right foot on the accelerator and left foot on the brake. Once the left foot is raised from the aluminium pedal, the New Clio RS explodes off the line, with breathtakingly dynamic gear changes.


The RS Drive button gives you access to three modes: Normal, Sport and Race. According to the mode, RS Drive alters the mapping of the gearbox, ESC behaviour, steering and the sensitivity of the accelerator pedal.

Driving through a 6-speed auto gearbox, it is hard not to head for ‘hooligan’ mode every time the car starts up – the acceleration is gorgeous, the ‘whap whap’ through the gears music to the ears and the handling simply sublime, especially in Race mode where it will allow appreciable oversteer – but, beware, it does not tolerate incompetence.

I now await its bigger brother, the Mégane, with interest to compare and, talking of comparison, the closest I have driven to the Renault is the Toyota Yaris GRMN which is not available for sale in South Africa.

For ‘normal’ driving situations the Clio comes with onboard navigation on offer via a 7-inch touchscreen, with a range of other functionalities – multimedia, radio and telephone systems with Bluetooth connectivity. It also has cruise control/speed limiter, whereby regulated cruising or maximum speed can be selected, with steering wheel mounted controls to allow for speed adjustment.


Finally, there are rain sensors, automatically regulating the frequency of the windscreen wipers according to how heavily it is raining and light sensors, enabling the headlights when the sensors detect a certain level of darkness.

The Michelin Pilot Super Sport 205/40R18 tyres fitted to the car play a huge role in keeping it stuck like whatever it is that sticks to a blanket and, like the car itself, are at their best when the pressure is on and they are being made to work.

Commuter driving is – as is always the case with lower profiles – not as much fun with most of the bumps and ripples from the road being transmitted through to the steering and driver. However, even that is survivable in anticipation of the glorious fun that awaits….

On-board safety and protection features and equipment include ESP, anti-lock brakes, EBD with Brake Assist, driver, passenger and side air bags.


As with Renault’s entire range, the Clio comes standard with a 5-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. The Clio RS has a 3-year/ 30 000 km service plan. Service intervals are 10 000 km.


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