Long-term test (Introduction): Renault Clio RS 18 F1 EDC
How could any young adult not be excited at the prospect of driving this little attitude-packed black-and-yellow hot hatch with its Akrapovič exhaust system for the next 12 months? We tested the Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy – the car on which this is based – in our July 2017 road test and gave it credit for its exceptional performance and handling but highlighted the EDC transmission as its Achilles’ heel. It was sluggish on downshifts, especially at everyday driving speeds.
Piloting the Clio RS 18 over the past few weeks has confirmed this characteristic but I’m already adapting to its quirks. Managing the transmission in manual mode via the aluminium column-mounted paddle shifters provides problem-free downshifts and makes my commute a little more entertaining. In traf_ c, it’s easier to keep it in auto but the dual-clutch does sometimes struggle to negate the effects of turbo lag from the 1,6-litre engine.
More likeable is the short gear ratios, offering rapid shifts. However, the engine spins at just above 3 000 r/min at 120 km/h which, combined with a 45-litre fuel tank, means the RS empties its tank quickly. Add its stiffly sprung Cup chassis and the RS 18 F1 does not make for an ideal long-distance tourer; instead I’ll have to embark on excursions in the Western Cape rather than undertaking any major trans-country road trips. The cushy bucket seats do make everyday driving comfortable.
What definitely is on the cards for the Clio RS is track days. With its honed chassis, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres and RS Monitor track-infused infotainment system, it would be a crime not to stretch this hot hatch’s legs on some properly surfaced tarmac. With Renault’s permission, I’ll be attending one or two track days at Killarney Raceway. Obviously, Deon Joubert’s lap time of 01:30,90 during our test of the Clio RS 220 Trophy is way beyond my abilities but it’ll be fun to see what this little car can really do.
With just 65 units currently confirmed for SA at R449 900 a pop, the Clio RS 18 F1 is a niche product, with its only rivals being the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Mini Cooper S (tested on page 68) and, to a lesser extent, the Abarth 595 Competizione 1,4T. The Clio RS 200 Cup and 220 Trophy are no longer available in SA, so this is the only hot Clio you can currently get your hands on. With the small hot-hatch segment slowly dying in South Africa, hopefully our time with this Clio RS derivative can reignite a spark of interest.
After 1 month
Current mileage: 1 921 km
Average fuel consumption: 11,79 L/100 km
We like: bad-boy attitude, short gear ratios
We don’t like: slow downshifts
Long-term test (Update 1): Renault Clio RS 18 F1 EDC
The Clio has been such a pleasure to drive, the biggest irk so far has been keeping that black paintwork clean. The Western Cape’s water restrictions have seen it caked in a layer of dust. That said, it’s proved a learning experience on how to be more hands-on with general car cleanliness and wiping off dirt spots as I notice them.
Despite all that, the striking black-and-yellow colour scheme has been a real head-turner, with current Clio owners being the most popular demographic to crane their necks, hoping for a second view as the RS races off.
After 2 months
Current mileage: 2 301 km
Average fuel consumption: 11,59 L/100 km
Long-term test (Update 2): Renault Clio RS 18 F1 EDC
You’d think a 1,6-litre, four-cylinder engine would be frugal in a small hot hatch but, after having driven the Clio RS a little more than two months and failing to resist the punch offered by the rather sizeable turbocharger, the consumption has settled on 11,49 L/100 km, 4,1 litres more than our fuel-index figures of 7,1. Of course, that figure is also hampered by my commuting, which sees me stuck in urban traffic to and from the office. The odd adventure to a nearby mountain pass makes up for the fuel cost, however.
After 3 months
Current mileage: 2 995 km
Average fuel consumption: 11,49 L/100 km
Long-term test (Update 3): Renault Clio RS 18 F1 EDC
As 2019 dawns, this generation Renault Clio enters the seventh year of its lifecycle, which is coincidentally also its last year of production. As per the knockout round on in our January Performance Shootout issue against the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Mini JCW, Honda Civic Type R and the Clio’s Mégane RS 280 Lux stablemate, it’s quite clear the RS is starting to feel its age despite remaining dynamically very capable. At least exclusivity is guaranteed compared to some of the others. In the four months I’ve driven this RS 18 F1, I haven’t seen another one (although that might also have something to do with Renault importing only 65 units).
After 4 months
Current mileage: 4 709 km
Average fuel consumption: 10,76 L/100 km