December 2020 saw Renault celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Clio Renault Sport V6 launch, one of the most iconic and revered models to ever be produced by its specialised Renault Sport division.
From the reveal of the original concept at the 1998 Paris Motor Show through to the current day, the Clio V6 has captivated car enthusiasts with its absolute commitment to performance and extreme mid-engine design, the latter ensuring it has more in common with supercars and formidable 1980s Group B rally cars than the compact front-wheel drive hatchback upon which it is based.
At launch, the Clio V6 was simply unrivalled. It was the world’s only mid-engine hatchback, offering superior performance to more expensive prestige sports cars, and such was its fiery nature that customers were invited to take part in the ‘V6 Experience’ where they could test drive the car in a controlled proving ground environment and enjoy training from qualified instructors.
The exclusivity of the Clio V6 was further heightened through its limited production run. Manufacturing of right-hand drive versions was restricted to 400 cars per annum and on its announcement in 2000, 500 orders for RHD cars had already been placed. Those who heard the news and were inspired to join the queue had to wait for an expected delivery date of 2002. Each car’s individual build number was shown on a plaque positioned in the centre console.
From the oft, the race-bred Clio V6 also hit a chord with the motoring press, with Jeremy Clarkson notably commenting at the time: “In my perfect ten car garage I would definitely have one of these – no question”. evo magazine was another fan, Richard Meaden including in his launch review: “Flooring the throttle unleashes a memorable soundtrack that builds from a low-rev rumble, through rich, resonant waves of mid-range muscularity to a bellowing, almost operatic crescendo at peak revs. It’s a combination quite unlike anything I’ve heard before.”
Twenty years after its official announcement and the Clio V6 is more sought-after than ever, with surviving examples now selling for more than double the original cost, its specialised design and rarity ensuring it’s recognised as a highly collectable modern classic.
A highlight in the history of Renault, the Clio V6 epitomises the company’s passion for innovation and highly focused road cars. Its commitment to an uncompromised performance driving experience continues to have an influence on every performance Renault model.