Renaultsport - the hot hatch gurus

Raymond Lai
10 Oct 2010

We reminisce and look back at some of the greatest hot hatches Renault and Renaultsport have ever made

Vive le sport!

They say Formula 1 improves the breed and it is certainly true for Renault and its Renaultsport offshoot. Renaultsport is a bit like the M Division or Team RS of the French brand but with one core difference. It is said that its primary aim is not to make more money for its parent company but to produce affordable driver's cars that can run rings around more expensive and exotic machinery out there. Renaultsport is not run by marketing or people with background in finance but petrol heads and enthusiasts. This is hugely apparent in the cars they make.

Renaultsport was founded in the 1970s to initially run Renault's sports car programme for the Le Mans 24 hour race. After a couple of tries, the brand took the victory at Le Mans with the Renault Alpine A442 in 1978. In addition to the Le Mans sports car project, Renaultsport also got involved in Renault's early forays into Formula One. They introduced the turbo engine in the late 1970s and won six world championships in the early 1990s as engine supplier to both Williams and Benetton. Renaultsport pulled out of F1 at the end of 1997. While Renault reentered F1 after buying over the Benetton F1 team in early 2000s, Renaultsport refocused on developing road cars and running one make race series like Formula Renault and World Series by Renault, which it continues to do till today.

The first ever Renaultsport badged road car was the Renaultsport Spider from the mid-1990s. The stunning looking roadster featured a mid-engine layout and is powered by the Clio Williams' 150bhp 2-litre motor. Setting the trend for future Renaultsport models, the Spider was heavily involved in one-make racing series in Europe. Renaultsport now offers three hot hatch models in its range - the Twingo 133, Clio 200 and the Megane 250. Currently, only the Megane is offered here but the cuddly Twingo can certainly give the Suzuki Swift Sport a run for its money as the most fun junior hot hatch if it is made available here. The Clio 200 is an evolution of the brilliant Clio F1 Team R27, which was last offered here in 2008.


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