Advantages Fantastic handling, quick, rare, practical, massively fun.
Disadvantages Interior not great, long term reliability as yet unproven, image not for all.
I've had my Renault Clio Trophy for almost two months now and still enjoy each drive more than the last. It really is an outstanding little car.For those of you who don't know, the Trophy is essentially a 182 Cup with a few added extras; added extras that turn what is already an extremely capable hot hatch into something truly exceptional.Clio V6 and some rather nice "Trophy" stickers on the sills.
It also gets some rather more substantial upgrades: the Recaro sports seats that were an option on the 182 are standard and really are the bees' knees for comfort and support; it rides on lightweight anthracite Speedline Turini 16" alloy wheels shod with super-grippy Michelin Pilot Exalto 2tyres; and it gets adjustable Sachs dampers at the front.These dampers are what really sets the Trophy apart from other Clios, and indeed all other contemporary hot hatches. With remote oil and gas reservoirs and reputedly costing ten times as much as the dampers on the standard 182, these motorsport-spec items give the Trophy unrivalled composure, grip and understeer resistance.
However, the Trophy is not simply a Cup with all the options boxes ticked and a few extras. There are no xenon headlights; no climate control (although with air con this is no great sacrifice); no high-class stereo or six-CD changer; and rear seats that might as well have been left out altogether.Seriously, don't expect to be able to take people any sort of distance in the back. Even if the ridiculously spartan bench doesn't make your rear passengers hate you, the lack of legroom thanks to the chunky front Recaros surely will.
But none of that will matter when you're sat behind the steering wheel, guiding the Trophy into a corner. Or just accelerating flat-out for the sake of it. This is not a car for cruising, nor a car for poseurs; it's a car for having fun.With a short wheelbase and such an excellent suspension/tyre setup, the Clio turns in with absolute immediacy. It's not fidgety - although under both hard acceleration and braking some effort is required to stay within the confines of a narrow lane - but it is responsive in the extreme.
In terms of power, it's quick enough, but this car's not about quarter-mile times. An acceleration time of 0-62mph in around 6.5s and a claimed top speed of 140mph is plenty for most people in most situations, but it's really its composure and chuckability in the corners that sets the Trophy apart. I have yet to find the car's limits on the road and while I'm no Jenson Button, nor am I Mrs Marple who has tea with your gran on Tuesday afternoons.The limits are sufficiently high that you can really push as hard as you dare on the road, in the dry at least, and if you must sample some lift-off oversteer or indulge in the Trophy's signature move - lifting its inside rear wheel as it tricycles through a corner at speed - then do so on a track, where various owners report the Trophy being more than up to the task.
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