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Renault Clio 197 Cup

Thu, 27 Sep 2007

By Tim Pollard

First Official Pictures

27 September 2007 02:59

Renault Clio Renaultsport 197 Cup: the lowdown

Look past the mouthful of a name (Renaultsport models still manage to be a real mouthful, n'est-ce pas?), and this should be one of our favourite hot hatches of the year. The new Clio 197 Cup is the full production version of the limited-edition Renault Clio 197 F1 Team R27. See what I mean about long names? This is the hot hatch for discerning hot hatch lovers - only those with precision g-meters built into their backsides will fully appreciate the chassis tweaks that make the Cup a dartier, more precise pocket rocket. We're talking a 7mm drop in ride height, with stiffer springs and recalibrated dampers.

Those suspension tweaks are the main change; the spring and damper rates are claimed to be 27 percent stiffer at the front, 30 percent at the rear, making the Cup track flat and hard through the twisty stuff. We thought the chassis revisions on the limited-edition R27 were the business, and there's no reason why they won't work on this regular 197 version. The only other mechanical change is longer gearing, which will become standard on all Clio 197s from now on. Both fifth and sixth gears are stretched marginally (top now runs 20.5mph per 1000rpm, rather than the boisterous 18.9mph in the normal 197) to make motorway cruising a less riotous affair. We're not convinced that's enough to make the Clio a proper long-distance proposition; take CAR's long-term test car on a long trip, and it's like spending an evening in a drum 'n' bass nightclub.

By Tim Pollard