This car is so bonkers, that it suits as a perfect car to restart the Gran Turismo Car Review Series. So, what do you waiting for? Let's go!
Exterior and History
Besides Venturi, Hommel, and Pescarolo, France has little to offer us for hard-core racing, so far as supercars go. But check it out! Renault has one hell of a sleeper for us! Once you get past its goofy looks, you may find yourself digging the Clio Sport V6.
But first, a word of caution. When racing this French machine, the first thing to remember is that it's not front-wheel drive! This is NOT a front-drive car, even though it looks like it should be one, with its econoboxy shape. One of the very KEYS to successful Clio Sport racing is to realize that it has a mid-engine layout. Most hatches are front-drive, after all. I'll place a rough estimate that 90% of them are front-drive in the real-world. That's probably wrong though. It's probably like 88% or 92%. Whatever. Most are front-drive...that's my point. The Clio Sport V6 looks (to the neophyte) as if it's yet another FF.
Like the spec sheet (Gran Turismo 2) at the West City Renault dealer says: the Clio Sport is derived from the infamous Renault 5...otherwise known as the 'Le Car'. Back in the day, the 5 was somewhat successful at rallies, and also raced in the wide world of IMSA's GTU class, but I don't think it did as well on paved tracks as it did off-road. Can't find much info online regarding the 5's overall racing career. The Renault 5 eventually became the Clio, a front-drive weakling which is also found in all Gran Turismo series except GT1. There are a HUGE number of Clios and Clio Sports in real-life, though; an overwhelming variety of them. What we get in our games are a handful of these models. LESS than a handful, actually...more like a sliver. Which is okay.
Some may find these cars ugly, some may not even notice their looks. Rare is the driver who thinks the Clio Sport is a beauty queen, tho. One thing for sure, Clios (even the ordinary ones with miniscule engines) certainly aren't ordinary-looking. With the Clio Sport V6, Renault decided shoot their new design straight to concept car levels: adding fender flares, a wide air dam up front, and generally making the car very sporty, and somewhat race-worthy as well. Before modifications, a Clio Sport V6 can be raced somewhere in Gran Turismo. Even before any mods are performed, it is possible to take a completely stock Clio Sport V6 and singlehandedly slaughter a bunch of events. The same can be said of Corvettes, TVRs, and Supras, of course. Does that not make the Clio Sport V6 just as much of a sports car as these others despite its boxy stature? Anyways...enough stereotyping.
The height (when comparing the Clio Sport V6 to "regular" Clios) has been shaved by about 3¾ inches, width has been increased by about 5", and ground clearance has been lowered by about an inch. All this to ensure the Clio Sport V6 will never be forgotten, and will always be remembered as something outrageous by the same factory that brought us the Espace F1 long ago.
The Sport V6 is expensive, probably the most expensive hot-hatch one can buy, but (unlike the regular Clio) the Sport V6 can be taken to many levels of racing. For all the action the 16v misses out in GT2, for instance, the Clio Sport makes up for it, managing to give Renault a better image. For those of you who like variety, you may find the selection of colors a bit disappointing in GT2. Actually, there's just one color to choose from! A dull primer gray...it just looks so sad at the dealership. Not very many Clio Sport V6s were made in that first year of production, and therefore Renault didn't feel the importance of offering us the entire palette, I suppose. The Sport does get some hot racing mods in this game, though. In subsequent years, the Sport V6 could be painted more colorfully as represented in the latter games Matter of fact, there are two Clio Sports in latter Gran Turismo: the 24v and the Phase 2.
Now as the French say: Comment t'allez vous? Sorry, that's about the only french I know. Gotta ask my girl how to say "let's kick some ass!" in French next time I remember.
The Clio Sport V6 is featured in several races throughout the simulation and arcade discs of all three games it appears in. Generally when we see it, we can expect it to be one of the losers of the pack. One exception (GT2) appears in the 3rd Clubman series race at Rome, but in all other situations, this car is a loser, not far behind those dreadful Ai Aston Martins. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. You may lose some races in this car, but it should not be for a lack of available horsepower.
In any game, this car starts off at about 250 hp. Not bad, but when we put it to the test, we find that the Clio Sport V6 makes some impressive numbers: Zero to 60 in just 5.8 seconds...the ¼ mile in just over 14 and a half...top speed of 150-ish mph. On top of this, the 5-speed gearbox that is standard with the Clio in GT2 doesn't match this car's potential speed, since the tachometer went straight to the 8,000 rpm limit at the test track. Nowadays, the Clío Sport has a 6-speed as standard, which the car in GT2 could sorely use. The Clio Sport of GT5 has a 6-speed, and can reach a higher ceiling (but not that much higher) than those with 5-speeds in earlier game, probably since wind-resistance is better represented in later Gran Turismos. These boxy cars aren't as wind-tunnel friendly as many others, of course.
When fully modified, an engine with an expensive 3rd stage turbo and racing aspiration in GT2 will have 513hp @ 7,600 rpm, with 377 ft-lbs. of torque @ 6,100. At this point, it will clobber 100 mph in just under 9 seconds! Wheelspin off the starting mark is minimized by the weight of the engine sitting between those rear wheels. Clio Sport 24vs in later games can't be equipped with turbos, unfortunately, but they aren't slackers. The engine delivers its power with highish revs, and at almost all times, feels as smooth as butter, even as power gets raised. Peak power is located well before redline, which gives us plenty of room to explore. We can shift this one early at times while staying within its proper torque/power band, or keep it in gear longer, reaping lots of revs. Flexibility. That's what this engine/transmission combination implies.
So far as transmission selections from the after-market go: close-ratio gearboxes shouldn't be needed, especially once the car is fully modified, though you might want to buy one for a weaker engine or for off-road adventures. The Clio Sport V6 will rarely hit its top speed during racing situations, but a fully-modifiable gearbox might be needed anyways for those who are craving even more, just to increase performance to its max. Full-modifyable gears aren't abosolutely needed most of the time, though.
Remember all the stuff at the beginning of this review about how I kept forgetting this car is not a front-drive? Well, here's the thing. The normal, everyday version of the Clio was actually MADE to be front-drive. Since the Sport V6 is mid-engine/rear-drive, things can get difficult at times...in some unexpected ways.
First of all, look at the car's length. The Clio Sport V6 has got a short, stocky, body. Just 148 inches! This is fine when the car is lightly modified. It's fine if you've got your engine running with a Stage 1 turbo. But beyond this, things get really unstable. The Clio Sport's highly maneuverable nature is great when power is low, but it becomes a curse once those horses are raised. In GT2, anyways.
Stability is easily lost at bumpy tracks... it seems the Clio Sport V6 is on two wheels (or NO wheels) almost as much as it's rolling on four! At smoother tracks, it has a tendency to oversteer like any RWD car will, except that the Clio Sport is very hard to straighten out if it gets sideways. And you'll notice: this car is constantly,CONSTANTLY trying to get sideways!
Just an hour ago, I lost a race at Laguna Seca that I was leading. I didn't lose it going down the corkscrew hill...no, I lost it at the TOP of the corkscrew! The dang car did that little jump, landed slightly crooked, and I was now in a full spin on flat land. See, if the C. Sport was a front-drive, none of this would ever happen. The magic of front-drive hatchbacks is: if or when they start to get sideways, the front end (where the drive wheels are) will almost always pull out of the slide...assuming they can quickly gain traction. This happens easier in GT2 than it does in later games, of course.
Despite my criticisms, the Clîo Sport is quite a fun ride, and its engine layout in a hatchback scenario makes it unique and therefore a refreshing challenge for all.
I've never driven a Clio Sport V6 in this game. :(
Years ago before the internet, perhaps even before cable TV, there used to be a product sold on regular air-transmitted TV called the "Ginsu Knife". It wouldn't surpise me if there's an article on it over at Wikipedia. It wouldn't surprise me if Ginsu knives are still sold somewhere. Who knows. Sorry, I refuse to research this topic! Anyways, the Ginsu TV advertizement showed how it could cut thru anything. Tin cans. Leather. Blocks of wood. And of course plenty of edible productss like fish, steak, and various veggies. Who knows if it really could? I certainly never knew anyone gullible enough to send a check or a money order thru the mail after seeing a silly Ginsu Knife commercial. My point? The Clio Sport V6 as it appears in GT5 reminds me of the Ginsu Knife, because it can also carve a corner in just about any way possible.
You can take corners from the inside!
You can take them from the outside!
You can perform a perfect out-in-out.
You can even do an out-out-out!
You can dance on the very edges of traction...playfully dodging by plenty of others!
Best of all; it is usually very possible to reliably overtake cars on the outside of a turn, rather than the inside. This is important because outside is usually where the enemy fears to tred. You've got lots of empty space to plunder if you can manage it. Throttle input out here must be sparse, but otherwise; the Clio Sport hangs on to a railroad track-like groove. It really is astounding how much grip this car displays in this game, unlike in GT2. Now the Clio Sport V6 feels lots more confident with cornering, bumps, and steering placement. Good solid braking action, too. And loads of mid-engine traction. I'm constantly finding myself not using all of this car's available braking and steering abilities...to use them all 100% of the time would be simply too much. This car gives us so much while cornering, even if it's only using half of its available capability.
Taking turns from the inside (hairpins, esses, elles, etc.) is even more fun. Now it's possible to start accelerating just moments after braking is over. Sometimes, it doesn't matter if you've not even passed the apex yet. Crunch the gas, steer in, and the car will throttle-steer so easily, you might think you're in GT heaven.
If there's a downside to all this, it happens for those who aren't very experienced. Drive a Clio Sport V6 too hard, and it'll betray you. Its steering may feel too grabby for some. Its mid-corner behavior (despite my glowing words above) might feel like nothing but a huge compromise. Clumsy and difficult to point and shoot out of corners. This car is one that (finally) doesn't understeer much. Sounds great, right? Well in faster corners especially, excessive oversteer, rear-end sliding, and even spins are definite possibilities for those less-experienced.
The Clio Sport V6 is also a rather difficult to tune, if the tuner's aim is to create a nicely balanced vehicle. This is one that always feels as though it's tossing and turning in various curves, like an insomniac who can't sleep. Its higher center of gravity (caused by the "hatch") making the V6 feel twitchy. Weight transfer happens quickly, which can catch some drivers off-guard. With the later version of the Clio Sport V6 in GT5 (the Phase 2) Renault tried to solve these problems.
Overall, either of these cars (24v or Phase 2) keeps me guessing, even at moments when I feel secure. Some of the things I've pulled in a Clio Sport V6 in GT4 feel unique to this car, even when compared to other MRs. So within its great capabilities exist also many possibilities. But beware: this is not a car for somebody seeking balance, stability, or refinement...inexperienced drivers need not apply.
But for those few who know how to dance on the edge of madness in this one, you will reap many benefits, smile many grins, and constantly be amazed at the stunts you can pull in this car.
Let's have some pros and cons.
1). Active, high-revving V6 engine. Sounds like the real thing.
2). Excellent acceleration and speed even before modifying. Smooth and easy to work with.
3). The Clio Sport V6 body is modified for extra downforce, and is both lower and wider than original bread-and-butter Clios, thanks to its spoiler & fender flares.
4). Excellent, low-spinning power transfer off the starting mark due to mid-engine weight between those rear wheels. Easy to launch from a dead-stop, basically.
5). Great maneuverability in a lightly modified car car. You'll have no problem pointing this one anywhere, that's for sure. Once the power is up, these beneficial traits can become a curse at times, however.
6). Engine can be tweaked up about as far the rest of the car can stand with 3 turbo stages (GT2) or three NA kits (GT5).
7). Racing kit (GT2) can be had.
8). Excellent gas mileage (GT5). Even when pushing as hard as can be.
9). Excellent brakes, especially in GT3 or 4 (not so great in the 2nd game, where the Clio V6 is overall harder to control as power gets upgraded).
1). The tires...even super-softs won't be much help at keeping the Clío controllable when the power is running high.
2). In newer models, the Clío has 6-speed gearbox, but in GT2, we're stuck with a 5-speed that limits this car's potential top speed. Chances are you'll eventually need racing gears.
3). GT2: Sometimes the Clío Sport likes to pretend it's a crab: it's always trying to get sideways in turns (and sometimes on the straights as well!).
4). GT5: In this game, the opposite is true; as the car is extremely grabby and too sensitive. Just because there's a lack of understeer doesn't mean there won't be a whole new set of problems to deal with.
5). High price.
6). A difficult one to tune.
7). In GT2, one can buy a Clio 16v in up to 16 colors. The Sport V6, on the other hand, can be had in any color—as long as it's silver-gray.
8). Middleish-light weight combined with a short, stocky body makes it unstable sometimes, hard to keep straight at others.
9). Goofy looks.