Everything you’ve heard about the ridiculous Renault Clio V-6 is true


In the late ’90s neon was still a thing, the Spice Girls had taken over the world, the trailer for a fourth Star wars The film had a good ability to smash something called the Internet, and Renault decided to put a 3.0-liter V6 in a Clio. As lists of things were going on, that is. . . Savage. The latter, however, is perhaps the wildest. The Renault Sport Clio V-6 was not only a silly car, but a car that caused problems for a lot of people, was developed in no time, and has legendary status among a certain group of committed masochists.

, HARNIMAN, Nigel

Few cars push Twitter like the Clio V-6. Its mix of reputation, rarity, and outright weirdness is probably the reason why. Everyone will speak up with a first-hand rumor or anecdote about the unpredictability of the Clio. But to understand why, we have to go back to 1998. Titanic All the other weak love stories had just come out, and Renault was busy deciding how to get more attention to its second-gen Clio.

Being Renault at the end of the 90s, the French firm decided to create a series of races. Not with cheerful versions of the road car, but with custom-made mid-engined V6 race cars that looked a bit like road cars. The series started in 1999, and the cars were. . . interesting. Rick Pearson, the only British driver to have completed two full seasons in a V-6 Trophy, gave a brief overview: “They were ridiculously unreliable at the time. For example, the driveshafts were too tilted, so constant velocity joints had to be repacked on most days of operation. . . . Engines lost power [deliberately, to protect them] as they were getting hot, the Italian teams therefore managed to unplug the sensor that did this, then complained that the engines kept exploding! ”

technical illustration

, VINCENT, Hubert

And that’s if you haven’t succumbed to their savage manipulation. Another former V-6 Trophy pilot, Rob Durrant, explained that he operated on his backstops. If he jumped a third time, you risked leaving. Any provocation could lead him astray. But it wasn’t slow and could keep up with seemingly faster cars as long as the drivers got it right. “In the wet, I’ve never had a car to go from understeer to oversteer so often. I liked that. . . . It was a challenge. It was “interesting” in the way he handled it, but the upside was that he got really good feedback. Although he might try to kill you, he had the decency to tell you.

At the Paris Motor Show 98, Renault unveiled a V6 Clio road concept. There is an apocryphal story that when Volkswagen heard that Renault was going to bring a three-liter car to the show, he worked his colossal bottom to make sure his own, the Lupo 3L, was not just ready for the spectacle but that it could be driven. For the Lupo, 3L referred to the number of liters of fuel consumed by the car per 100 kilometers of driving. In the Clio, it was the size of the V-6, where the rear seats should be. Let this be true. . . at this point who cares?

clio v6

Alex goy

The creation of Renault went incredibly well, which prompted Renault to call Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) to see if it would be possible to get a V-6 stuck in the middle of a Clio and toss it on plates. . Stephen Marvin, Engineering Project Manager at TWR while the Phase 2 car was on site, explained the timeline: “In 1998, they had the show car; In 1999, they started driving the single-make series trophy vehicles. The idea was that they wanted to release the car in 2000. It was a project that was roughly less than 18 months old, because we started work in ’99 making the first real vehicles. Not long at all.

Marvin explained that the initial idea of ​​just turning the racing car into a road car was ambitious, because, well, “it wasn’t a good racing car, the Trophy. It was a car that was designed for a single-make championship, and in these the only competition is essentially the same to enter. The Phase 1 Clio V-6 ended up with Renault’s own 3.0-liter V6 with 230 hp and a fascinating setup compared to the commercial car it provided the halo for. It was 171mm wider, 66mm lower and 38mm longer with a wider track, MacPherson springs in the front, multi-link in the rear, a brand new rear end (because of course it would take one. ) and an anti-hoop taken from the Trophy. The car’s steering rack was incredibly slow and its gear high; as such, it had a huge turning radius – Marvin mentioned that the only comparable car he could find was a Lamborghini Diablo.

clio v6

Alex goy

Much like the racer, the road car was sharp. Only this car was accessible to the general public. Mention it online and stories of tricks, temperamental behavior, and “moments” wash over you. Its short wheelbase, high center of gravity, and setup made it a handful, albeit with a retractable seat belt. When Phase 1 was launched at the end of 2000, there were numerous accidents, including a journalist leaving the road, falling into a ravine and seriously injured. It was not a car to be played with.

During the life of Phase 1, just over 1,600 cars were hand-assembled in Sweden by TWR, and the car quickly gained popularity. Marvin mentioned what Renault had compared him against: the Porsche Boxster, Renault Sport Spider, BMW Z3 M, Honda S2000 and contemporary Renault Sport Clio. The V-6 was none of them – less practical, dumber, and angrier than the lot.

clio v6

Alex goy

A follow-up, phase 2, was ordered to accompany the regular facelift of Clio. This time it had to be less combative and more usable. Marvin explains that the second bite of Cherry involved a huge overhaul: a heavily revised chassis, a longer wheelbase, a wider 23mm front track, revised springs and shocks, and even an engine overhaul to give more growl at his V6. . Towards the end of Phase 2 development, Renault Sport took the reins of TWR development. Again, the car was built by hand, this time in a former Alpine factory in Dieppe. With improvements under the skin and a shiny new 255bhp, 221lb-ft engine able to go from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and 153mph, hopes were high.

Getting into Renault UK’s immaculate press car is a strange step back in time. It’s like the kind of Clio you would see parked outside high schools, although this one doesn’t have rear seats to cover in book bags as there is a big black bump hiding it. a motor. At startup, it does not bark; there is no tuned pop or bangs like in a modern hot hatch. Sounds fair. . . Well. In town, especially in a yellow Pontoon Clio, you might look strange, but it’s surprisingly comfortable. With no awkward rear seats, rear visibility is also pleasantly wide. The Stage 2 car’s steering didn’t get the same treatment as the rest of the car, so tight parking maneuvers require time and a lot of patience.

clio v6

Alex goy

On the highway, the engine is cranking a bit high, which means 20 mpg is about as good as it gets, but again, it’s a comfortable cruise. Once you are in the country, where there are turns, slopes and fun activities to do, the car comes to life. The engine sings under heavy load, which encourages you to go faster. The power on top makes it pretty fast, not fast but fast enough. The management is not precise but does the job well enough. A modern hatch would walk over it. Hell, a contemporary Clio 172 would do as well, but there’s something that keeps you going. It is a kind of reservoir, which, if everything is correct, flows wonderfully. It has a smooth shifting, a fairly light clutch, and brakes that don’t seem to be hampered by anything.

In the dry, it behaves, suggesting that reputation is nothing but boastfulness. Then it happens – a wet patch of tarmac and a little too enthusiastic hit on the throttle and the rear decides he wants to be somewhere else. You swerve for management to correct. You’re in luck. This is a warning from an almost 20-year-old car to stop treating it like a toy and start treating it like the racing derivative that it really is. Stories of confident drivers caught red-handed are starting to make sense, and the public highway is not the right place to see how easily it is provoked.

clio v6

Alex goy

There are less than 3000 Clio V-6s. Too bad, because it was a glorious experience, which created a legend that we probably won’t see again, but maybe not for the right reasons. It’s a car to be enjoyed, but with respect.

exploded view

Renault

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Freeda S. Scott