Renault Sport revealed that it will be unveiling the Clio RS16 in time for its 40th anniversary celebration. Considered as a rather crazy idea, teams from the brand worked on this concept car and in barely five months managed to come up with a working model. Part of the work was equipping the Clio RS16 with the turbo 2.0-liter engine that could deliver power at 275 bhp and torque at 360 Nm.
This same engine originated from the Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R. In order to utilize its full potential, the Clio RS16 needed to have suspension systems and a chassis that included solutions developed specifically for racing. Helping reinforce its claim as the brand’s most powerful road car yet is the body that is wider by 60 mm and its 19-inch wheels. The Clio RS16 has both the name and the color theme from the single-seater RS16 and marks the return of the brand as Formula 1 constructor.
On May 27, 2016, fans were given their first glimpse of the Clio RS16 during the Monaco Grand Prix. It was driven by none other than Renault Sport Formula One Team’s Kevin Magnussen. It was way back in October 2015 when the Renault Sport Cars head office conducted a brainstorming session where the concept for the Clio RS16 started to take shape. Specifically, it was Managing Director Patrice Ratti who met with the team to initialize new projects as part of the commemoration of the brand’s 40th anniversary.
It was during one of these brainstorming sessions that engineer Christophe Chapelain revealed that based on his experience when it comes to rallying, the Clio should have a chassis that should handle the performance levels expected from a 300 bhp engine. Starting from this comment, the ideas went back and forth eventually leading to the Clio RS.
One of the factors that determine the performance of a car is the amount of fresh air supplied by the front end to its engine. As such, the design team made sure to include this factor as early as the initial phases. Using the Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R’s air-to-air exchanger, the splitter in the front bumper was redesigned to ensure that it worked properly. Overall, this particular solution can be said to be clever and at the same time elegant as no major changes were done appearance-wise.
In addition, this specific convergent complements the newly-adjusted bumper. By retaining its Kevlar texture, this feature manages to highlight the Clio RS16’s high-performance character. Aside from being one of the brand’s most famous cars, helping the Clio RS16 stand out even more is the R.S. VISION LED lighting signature. Due to the chequered flag design, this particular signature instantly displays the brand’s graphic environment. By having the multi-reflector LED technology, it allows for the light functions to grouped together like the side light, cornering light, fog light, and headlight.
Another feature that can be observed on the Clio RS16 is the Liquid Yellow paintwork that has long been connected with Renault Sport and that has in fact decorated its Formula One Team cars back in 2016. This paintwork is then mixed with the diamond logo, the Gloss Black of its front grille, roof, as well as the outer surface of the spoiler on the rear. To highlight the model’s sporty profile, the final version will have the same paintwork on the spoiler’s upper surface. In order to keep up with the racing present that is the Clio RS16, the Speedline Turini wheel rims are heavily perforated and come in black, which works well as it contrasts with the Brembo brake calipers, which come in red. Completing the appearance are the Renault Sport markings placed on its roof and the Renault diamond logo (though a pixelated version) that can be found in the rear part.
This particular feature is also observed in the Formula 1 RS16. Without a doubt, this mix of black and yellow was selected in order to reflect the RS16 of the Renault Sport Formula One Team. It was on April 1 that the brand decided to go to the Montlhéry track for the first ever road test for the Clio RS16. Because of the various simulations that were done during its development, the Clio RS16 revealed that it was truly well-balanced. The temperature of the powertrain was also a success as it managed to meet the initial specifications. It was only after the initial tests that the fine-tuning of its powertrain could finally start.
Climatic roller bench tests, for example, were performed at the Lardy Technical Centre to allow the different constraints adapted to be confirmed. Since the deadlines for the project were relatively tight, this particular phase of the development was done by engineers in order to meet them. Specifically, these were Frédéric Laurent and Jean-Sébastien Robert, the same engineers who had previously tuned the Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R. It was ten days after its first road test that convergence and handling fine-tuning were then started on the tracks at Aubevoye Technical Centre.
Located somewhere in Normandy, this strategic (albeit confidential site) is where the Clio RS16 mixed with the other prototypes are being planned by Renault. All-in-all, the brand’s Preliminary Project team made two versions. The first is the Liquid Yellow variant, the same one that will be unveiled at Monaco. The second is the Deep Black version which will be subjected to development testing. When it came to the tyres, the team decided as early as the beginning of the project that the Clio RS16 would be equipped with the Michelin Pilot Sport SP2 tyres. Because of this, it was possible to focus instead on the mechanical settings of its axles. Similar to a racing team, the team looked into different options like anti-roll bars, valving and shock absorber stops, and stiffness of the springs, to name a few.
Development driver for the Clio RS16, David Praschl, shared that the Aubevoye track enabled the team to work near the Les Ulis facility under excellent conditions and more importantly, in complete confidentiality. The group selected a route that ensured that the car will encounter all types of difficulties like, among others, a hairpin in order to the check traction, big corners to test its road-holding, and an uneven section that had pot-holes in order to work on the vertical lift, he added.
A speed ring was even utilized in order to look into its stability at speeds exceeding 200 kph, Praschl continued. In addition, all the members of this Preliminary Project team were present during the first session in order to determine if they made the correct choices and also to know what possible upgrades could be implemented in the future. Furthermore, the people responsible for engine design looked into gigabytes of data in order to confirm that the engine was indeed working correctly as well as to evaluate the vehicle’s performance level. Intensive testing occurred for three days and after this, the mule version was then brought back to the Les Ulis in order for it be disassembled with the components completely verified.
Once the final details were fine-tuned, a second test session was scheduled on April 28 in order to set the technical definition. As a result of the chassis quality and the use of Michelin tyres, driving the Clio RS16 was indeed dynamic, Praschl shared. By having an independent steering-axis suspension on the front, it was easy to handle the increase in the car’s torque. This comes as no surprise though, Praschl said, considering that this technology was not only developed by Renault Sport but was actually also used for around a decade now. Praschl added that if he had to compare the Clio RS16 with the Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R, the former has less inertia, which actually makes perfect sense since it is more compact.
As such, it is simplified for different types of drivers to come to terms with. Praschl continued that after experiencing the response and agility of the Clio RS16, it reminded him of a car that was popular among racing drivers, the Clio III Cup. Since it is highly stable and is equipped with highly efficient brakes, driving it is safer. One can truly have a lot of fun driving the Clio RS16, he continued. The only thing that remains, he continued further, it to look at the speedometer and see if it is truly the most powerful road car from Renault Sport.