Renault’s Clio R.S. 200 EDC has won plenty of friends with its dynamic competence and sporty demeanour.
So accomplished is the chassis and associated ancillaries that some might argue it could easily handle a little more oomph.
Cue the 220 EDC Trophy. As the name suggests, this limited edition newcomer boasts 20 more horsepower (15kW) from its 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder engine.
The R.S. 220 can be told apart from its 18-inch diamond-cut Radicale wheels and Trophy badging on the front spoiler, door trims and individually numbered door sills.
Inside, the differences extend to an embossed leather-trim steering wheel, heated leather sports seats with integrated head rests and a gear lever base plate and air-vent inserts finished in satin-effect chrome in place of the anodized red offered in the R.S. 200.
Stop&Start fuel and emission saving technology is standard, marking the first time in Australia Renault has offered this feature in combination with the EDC transmission.
But the real difference is – as it should be – in the drive experience. New engine mapping, a larger turbo, intake system designed to minimize back pressure losses and a revised exhaust system have boosted power to 162kW. Torque is up 40Nm to 280.
So, as well as increased response and urge, the 1.6-litre turbo engine is more expansive and flexible in its delivery.
The EDC transmission – not renowned for being one of the more fluent of its kind – has also been revised. The result is gear changes that are up to 30 percent faster, Renault says, and while we had no way of measuring this on test, the overall feel is noticeably more precise and convincing.
Firming and lowering the suspension 20mm at the front and 10mm at the rear, along with stiffer dampers and hydraulic bump stops, has made the handling sharper; the R.S. 220 cornering even flatter and harder and gripping more resolutely than before.
Turn-in is sharp and incisive, thanks to a faster steering rack where the ratio has been reduced by 10 percent.
Not surprisingly, given what amounts to a track-focused bias, the ride is firm but not disagreeably so. Hit a bump and you feel it through the steering wheel, but the car continues to track true with no unsettling affect.
At $39,990, the R.S. 220 Trophy is some $10,000 – or around 33 percent – dearer than the R.S. 200 Club. So, it won’t be for everybody. But Renault has already thought of that with just 220 units allocated for sale in Australia.