Chris reports on life with the little Clio with the supercar attitude

Images by Ben Midlane

It all started back in 1999 at the Paris motor show; a friend of mine showed me what can only be described as a caricature of a Renault Clio with a 3.0-litre V6 where the back seats should be! “They will never build that” I recall saying. Boy am I glad I was wrong.

In 2003 the facelifted 255 was released, addressing most of the issues associated with the Phase 1 car and boosting the power by 25hp. Having read all the reviews and long term tests I knew I had to have one someday.

Fast forward to 2021 and I am now in my second stint of Clio V6 ownership.

The first thing that strikes you are the looks, this thing looks like it is travelling 100mph without even turning the key. From the huge air intakes and its bulging hips to its 18-inch alloys tucked inside its enormous arches, it's pure theatre from every angle! I only have to open the garage door and look at it to put a huge grin on my face.

I love people's reactions to it, they stop and stare, take photos everywhere it goes. Even the most mundane trip to the shops turn into an adventure, people staring in amazement as you put the shopping under the bonnet. It still amazes me how much attention the car gets, I often wonder how can a car based on such a humble little hatchback get as many admiring looks as a supercar?

I haven't even got to the noise yet! Turn the key and you are met with the distinctive V6 burble, blip the throttle and you are treated to a deep growl. Once on the move the noise is fabulously addictive as the V6 sings right up to the 7,500rpm limiter.

The fact that this is going on right behind your head makes it all the more special! There has been a lot written about the handling dynamics, with such a short wheelbase, ridiculous turning circle and most of the weight in the rear it certainly feels unlike any other hatchback I have ever driven. In the dry it isn't the handful it has been made out to be in the past, however it certainly demands respect in damp conditions.

There's not a lot to dislike really, but the interior is the only real downslide to the car. Get into the driver's seat and you could be forgiven for thinking you have sat in a 1.5DCi as there are very few hints that you are sat in something out of the ordinary.

It's only when you look behind you and see the bulkhead where the rear seats should be or the first time you catch a glimpse of the huge arches in your wing mirror you start to feel like you are sat in something pretty special.

I genuinely feel like I am driving around in a piece of motoring history! In a world of EV’s & low capacity turbocharged engines we are never going to see the likes of the Clio V6 again. Renault should be applauded for the fact that this car even exists. This one is most definitely a keeper.