Pretoria - Renault has given its Clio RS a dose of Formula One ‘gees’ with the release of the RS 18 F1 ‘Collectors Edition’.

Now available in South Africa at a price of R449 900, the new edition commands a premium of R11 000 over the RS 220 EDC Trophy model that it’s based on and it adds some exclusivity to Renault’s most compact hot hatch package.

Only 65 cars will be available in South Africa, for now at least - Renault SA said it could potentially order more cars if enough potential customers come begging.

Created to celebrate 40 years of Renault’s involvement in Formula One, the RS 18 F1 is not only named after Renault’s grand prix race car, it also gets a similar exterior colour scheme in black and yellow. The front bumper blade, side strips and wheel caps are finished in bright Liquid Yellow, but the rest of the car is pretty much blacked out - including the Renault badges. A little extra contrast is however provided by the RS decals on the doors and roof..

The mechanical package is as per the aforementioned RS 220 Trophy, with power coming from the 162kW/280Nm version of Renault’s 1.6-litre turbopetrol, mated to a six-speed EDC dual-clutch gearbox with large steering-mounted shift paddles. A rumbly Akrapovic exhaust is standard, as is a launch control system that allows the little Renault to screech from 0-100km/h in just 6.6 seconds, according to claims.

Like the Trophy model that it’s based on the F1 edition comes with a lowered and stiffened ‘Cup’ chassis as standard, something we got to experience at full tilt at the vehicle’s local launch - held at the Zwartkops Raceway in Gauteng.

The RS proved entertaining and suitably nimble around tight track, aided by the abundance of power and quick-shifting gearbox. It understeers at the limit, but not excessively, and the 205/40R18 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres provide ample grip. Though the car felt impressively stable at cornering limits, the rear end did get a little twitchy under hard braking.

Drivers can choose from three drive modes that adapt the accelerator, steering, gearbox and stability control through ‘normal’, ‘sport’ and ‘race’ modes, but the latter only operates when the gearbox is in manual mode.

Outside of the track environs,the RS 18 F1 works reasonably well as an everyday car, although the ride is notably firm.

Apart from gaining numbered door sill plaques and a reverse camera, the F1’s features list is as per the regular RS Trohpy, with standard fare including Renault’s 18cm MediaNav infotainment system with satnav as well as black leather sports seats (heated upfront), cruise control, start button, rain and light sensors and a multi-function steering wheel.

Also included is the RS monitor, which allows drivers to monitor various performance parameters such as lap times, acceleration and g-force data.

The car is sold with a five-year/150 000km warranty and three-year/30 000km service plans, although after that the service intervals are on the tight side at 10 000km.

Clio RS Prices

RS 200 Lux 147kW/260Nm R 392 900
RS 220 Trophy 162kW/280Nm R438 900
RS 18 F1 162kW/280Nm R449 900

IOL Motoring