'Quite a lot for a Clio, isn’t it?’ I often hear those words when people meet the Racing Blue Renaultsport for the first time. And I’m tempted to agree, as our fully-kitted-out long-termer passes £18K, the price of a barely run-in R26.R. But all it took was one day – a Renaultsport trackday at Oulton Park, to be precise – for it to prove itself as a proper performance-car bargain.
The Cup is designed with track-goers in mind, so a few laps (quite a few…) of the Cheshire circuit would be the perfect opportunity to put it through its trackday paces.
Subscribe to evo magazine
As well as boasting rain that would have had Noah sharpening his chisel, Oulton also saw the loss of my trackday virginity. I wasn’t bursting with confidence, warnings from our road testers about the circuit’s trickiness ringing in my ears. But after a few laps with an instructor my appetite was whetted and I spent the morning trimming my lines and building my speed into turns, despite the worsening weather. I was first back out after lunch, too, and with the trackday bug having well and truly bitten, I barely stopped to give the car, or me, a breather.
HK09 DHV never missed a beat, though, and spurred me on lap after lap. It’s an interesting car to master; initially very approachable, as you’d expect from a front-drive hot hatch, but with a surprisingly mobile tail if you come sharply off the throttle or brake in anything other than a straight line. A sodden track made for high entertainment, while cornering as smoothly as possible helped me see off the pesky Clio 172s and 182s that had the measure of the new-generation car on the straights.
What impressed me most, however, wasn’t the Clio’s fun-factor on track, but its sheer all-round ability throughout the day. It handled a 500-mile round trip and a heap of track action with aplomb, comfy seats and cruise control taking care of the commute, the playful chassis and sharp ride dealing with the circuit stuff. Eighteen grand? Worth every penny…
|Date acquired||September 2009|
|Costs this month||£0|
|Mileage this month||2017|
|MPG this month||30.8|