Aside from Toyota, Opel and Nissan, all the major players are represented with one of the segment cornerstones being the Renault Clio RS.
As in our previous report of the hardcore RS 220 Trophy however, the niggles that persisted in the so-called Phase I version of the fourth generation Clio still linger, with the biggest headache continuing to be the irksome six-speed EDC gearbox.
The recent arrival of a white RS 200 Lux therefore came as another sense of déjà vu and immediately resulted in this writer uttering the words, “here we go again” when the gear lever was slotted into Drive and the throttle planted. Yet, unlike the Trophy, the Lux rated as somewhat of a surprise at the end of its seven day stay.
Still has the hot hatch looks…
The standard Clio RS undoubtedly still rates as one of the best looking performance hatches on sale today, in spite of lacking some of its sibling’s go-faster styling bits.
Despite appearing somewhat restrained in its sombre white hue and to the untrained eye more like a reworked GT-Line, the mid-life facelift, although minor, has worked a treat in that the RS receives a wider, more aggressive front bumper, the impressive C-shaped Pure Vision LED headlights, foglights shaped in the Renault Sport logo, black mirrors, satin silver diffuser with dual chromed tipped exhausts and a set of very sporty looking 17-inch alloy wheels.
…And a lot of tech
As discreetly sporty as its looks outside, the Lux’s interior is virtually identical to that of the Trophy sans the red seatbelts and overly supportive heated front sport seats. It still features red stitching on the steering wheel and gear lever with 12 o’clock marking on the former, piano key black trim around the seven-inch R-Link touchscreen display, a good helping of aluminium-look inlays, red detailing and quality material fittings.
Still one of the easiest systems to use, the infotainment setup also gets the same informative RS Monitor as the Trophy, with readouts for the engine and gearbox temperature, power and torque graphs, a lap timer, G-meter, turbo boost pressure and brake pedal pressure to name but a few.
The list of standard equipment is still as comprehensive as ever with Bluetooth, satellite navigation, USB and Aux inputs, climate control, auto lock/unlock doors, cruise control, auto on/off headlights and wipers, electric windows all around, keyless entry, height adjustable steering, push button start, ABS with EBD, BAS, seven airbags and Hill Start Assist.
That powertrain again
On the move though, these aspects tend to become of little concern when you take the Lux by the horns. Unlike the Trophy, the standard suspension and slightly higher ride height does not result in a bone shattering ride in normal everyday use, while the infuriating EDC ‘box is at least a tad better behaved than in the Trophy.
That said, it still not the most pleasant of dual-clutch ‘boxes around, especially compared to very impressive unit in the Duster, and still feels hesitant even in Sport mode and with manual control of the gearbox taken. This also means that it stifles progress a bit as the 1.6-litre turbocharged motor feels more than eager to get on with the job at hand.
Pumping out 200 pferdestärke as its name suggests, or 147kW/260Nm of torque, the Lux somehow feels more alive than the Trophy despite producing less power and torque, and also doing without the sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 2 rubber and sportier suspension. Top speed is a claimed 230 km/h and 0-100 km/h is 6.7 seconds, while best recorded consumption for the week came to 7.6-litres/100 km.
What it still has though is super accurate steering and loads of grip, as well as the ability to go back to being a normal Clio for everyday use without the Trophy’s stiff ride.
It is by no means perfect and still in need of a proper manual gearbox like past models, yet the Renault Clio RS 200 Lux still rates the perfect balance between all day motoring and typical hot hatch performance. At R389 900 however, the Lux still rather pricey for a small hot hatch.