Itâ€™s a V6 supermini with rear-wheel drive. Whatâ€™s not to like?
Itâ€™s still hard to believe Renault built this. A three-door superminiâ€¦ with a 3.0-litre V6 engine mounted where the rear seats normally reside, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. It was a car without rival when new and remains so today; itâ€™s like the most extreme crazy car creation made reality and sold alongside humdrum 1.2-litre shoppers.
It was inspired by a similarly bonkers previous creation, the Renault 5 Turbo 2 of the 1980s. Like the Clio V6, that had the engine in the middle, but that was also built with a purpose in mind, to win rallies. The Clio had no purpose other than some within the company thought it would be cool to do. And this alone is why we love it, and why you should buy one.
Renaulsport Clio V6 255
Engine: 3.0-litre, V6, petrol
Price new: Â£26,995
Price today: Â£33,995
Power (hp): 252bhp
Torque (lb ft): 221lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive
Fuel economy: 23mpg
CO2 emissions: 285g/km
Itâ€™s never been a cheap car. When new, it cost Â£26,995, which was rather a lot to pay for a supermini back in 2004. A few years back, used prices did dip below the Â£20,000 mark; today, theyâ€™re back up, way beyond the original list price, to almost Â£35,000. Thatâ€™s the price you pay for a cult car, and also for one thatâ€™s incredibly rare â€“ right now, there are just 144 left on the road.
Hereâ€™s one we spotted earlier. A black 2004 model, producing 255bhp from a V6 engine mounted right behind the passengerâ€™s heads. This is a later Phase 2 car, benefitting from a longer wheelbase and chunkier anti-roll bars than the original Phase 1, which helped tame some wayward tendencies when driven quickly in the wet â€“ and the front end will push wide even at fairly moderate speeds. But it didnâ€™t dull the carâ€™s impact.
The engine revved to over 7,100rpm, guaranteeing excitement, particularly as it was delivered through just two rear wheels with a rudimentary electronic nanny to keep things sane. That it weighed 1,400kg means performance isnâ€™t quite as explosive as this setup might suggest, but itâ€™s still extremely potent, particularly when you release the engineâ€™s full surge from over 4,500rpm.
Youâ€™ll never see the likes of this car again. These days, manufacturers are still building hot hatches by the bucketload, but theyâ€™re more mainstream, using regular turbo engines rather than screaming V6s. Theyâ€™re mounted in the right place as well, so can seat at least twice the number of people as this Clio. And because theyâ€™re lighter, theyâ€™re usually just as fast. Not to mention cheaper.
But although theyâ€™re joyous to drive, are they as charismatic? Not a bit of it. The Clio V6 is a bona fide modern classic that rightly earns its place in any connoisseurâ€™s car collection. Itâ€™s expensive, sure, but thereâ€™s little chance this is going to plummet; itâ€™s one of the safest places you can put around Â£30,000 in a contemporary collectable.
Not to mention one of the most wildly entertaining. No matter how much you drive it, youâ€™ll still not fully believe they made it. Surely thatâ€™s good enough reason alone to buy it?