With Renault Clio sales up more than 500 per cent year-on-year one gets the feeling 2014 will go down as Renault’s breakout year in Australia.
No doubt the biggest influence on Clio sales was the dramatic remake: three doors to five, 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol to 1.6 turbo-petrol and manual-only transmission to six-speed, dual-clutch auto.
Now, like big-brother Megane, Clio is getting a boost along with the inclusion of a new limited edition sports model, the Clio RS Monaco GP. The Clio RS Monaco GP was launched alongside the Megane RS 275 Trophy last week on Tasmania’s sublime roads many of which are Targa Tasmania stages. Like the limited edition Megane, the Clio RS Monaco GP sticks to the tarmac like a go-kart.
The car comes standard with pearl white body colour and contrasting black roof. It’s a head-turner.
Renault Australia managing director, Justin Hocevar, says, “The Clio RS Monaco GP combines the acclaimed performance of Renault’s latest hot hatch along with the style and sophistication of Monaco, with its elegantly appointed cabin and eye-catching white and black colour scheme. Renault Sport is known for constantly invigorating the brand with desirable limited editions and the Clio RS Monaco GP is a fitting addition to the Renault Sport range”.
The Clio Monaco hits the streets with a bottom line of $38,290, just $700 under the asking price of another icon, Subaru’s WRX. Unlike the WRX that comes with an option of manual or CVT auto, the Clio 147 kW 1.6 turbo comes only with a six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual.
Only 55 examples of the car will go on sale in Australia, making this small Renault an exclusive owners club.
Clio comes in 10 variants starting at $16,790 for a Clio 0.9-litre, $20,290 for the 1.2-litre Clio Expression through to the 1.6-litre Club Trophy at $37,290. The significance of this broad range is simple: light and small cars represent more than 30 per cent of the entire Australian market. So the more cars you have in the segment, the more you will sell.
Clio Monaco also gets black deco highlights on the front blade, rear diffuser, side protective strips, door handles and door mirrors. The rear spoiler gets the same treatment and a Monaco badge sits in the lower protective panels on either side.
Renault has kitted the car with gloss-black 18-inch alloy wheels, which also feature on the Clio RS Cup. The end result is a car that looks like it means business.
The interior is dominated by black and grey with dark metal decorative flashes on the steering wheel, gear lever knob and gaiter, steering wheel boss and loudspeaker surrounds. There are numbered door sills that feature Monaco GP branding. But, this is all ambience and the reality is the Clio Monaco is all about performance.
Like the Megane RS Trophy the Clio is not about straight line speed. It is far more subtle than that. It’s only when you tackle roads like those selected for Targa Tasmania that you get a feel for just how good this pint sized Renault is.
The Clio Monaco engine belts out 147 kW at 6000 rpm and 240 Nm of torque from 1750 rpm. It can run on 95 RON petrol, but Renault recommends 98 RON.
The Getrag-built six-speed dual-clutch is smooth in the shifts and does not seem to have any bad habits at low speed, a negative in some other dual clutch systems.
Drive is through the front wheels with no sign of torque steer. With a kerb weight of a tad over 1200 kg the Clio Monaco sprints to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds. Top speed is 230 km/h.
Clio Monaco also features technology that will send tech heads into a spin in the form of the RS Monitor 2.0 Telemetry system. This gives access to RS replay function and allows users to create and download racing circuits, and to watch and review all data logged during track days. It can then be downloaded onto social media.
Our overall driving impressions of the Clio Monaco are of car that is well and truly sorted for those who want a hot small car that not only looks great, but can back that up on road, or even on the track.
It handles that well it would make a basis for an excellent rally car. It’s one of those cars that that seems to get more grip and handle better the quicker the pace.
After driving both the Sport chassis and the Cup spec chassis found on Clio Monaco – they differ in suspension settings – it’s our feeling the Sport is slightly better, but you can only tell by driving on the absolute limit where the Sport has slightly more grip when taking tight corners at high speed. Clio Monaco’s steering is direct and it points beautifully into turns giving the driver a lot of confidence powering out. The dual-clutch offers drivers a manual shift either on the column paddles or the conventional shifter that provide immediate access to more grunt when required.
One of our criticisms of the Megane RS 275 Trophy was noise intrusion into the cabin, but the Clio Monaco does not have this issue with a superbly quiet cabin even under hard driving and coarse bitumen surfaces. The seats are supportive without compromising comfort. Renault Clio RS Monaco GP comes with Renault’s five-year, unlimited-km warranty.
AT A GLANCE
Warranty: Five years/unlimited km
Engine: 1.6 litre turbo charged 147 kW/240 Nm
Transmission: six-speed dual-clutch auto