Ignored when new, now one more way into a legendary hot hatch
By Matt Bird / Wednesday, 4 October 2023 / Loading comments
Funny cars, the most recent Renault Gordinis. Here was a pair of cracking Renaultsport hot hatches in the Twingo 133 and Clio 200 (and the Wind, don’t forget), commemorating an iconic name in motorsport history, at a time when hardcore hot hatches were much more popular… that amounted to little more than a paint job. Even the Cup chassis was optional. What ought to have been a fitting motorsport-inspired special became, really, a limited edition in a nice blue.
But that sounds an awful lot like the contemporary assessment from the early 2010s. Under the objective microscope, the Gordinis didn’t offer an awful lot more for their premium; it was possible to spec a Clio up to beyond £20k and still have the same experience as one that cost a lot less. For the hot hatch purist, surely the market that Renaultsport appealed to most, the Gordini represented style over substance. And that’s not the R.S. way. But look what’s happened in the decade or so since the Gordinis. Nobody outside of Renault could have known back then the drastic direction the hot hatches (and the Wind) were to be taken in. Perhaps the response might have been a little kinder had we known what was coming.
At the end of the day, these remained the same brilliant Twingo and Clio, albeit in jazzy new colour scheme and a limited run for a bit more money. Now there’s no premium attached to them, the Gordinis make an interesting alternative to the usual full-fat, Cup-chassis’d cars that are so often highlighted. It might not be Liquid Yellow or Alien Green, but Gordini Blue still looks great, for starters. Amazingly enough, white or black were also available – good luck finding one of those…
Anyway, the Gordini in question. Mercifully, this one goes without the blue painted wheels that were so often seen, only keeping the white accents that were standard on all. It also doesn’t have the Cup chassis, either, that was £410 back in the day, though that’ll be good news for some. Hardly like the 200 was bad to drive without it; these are feted hot hatches for very good reason in any guise.
This Clio has had quite a few owners for its near-90,000 miles, which can be a concern (speaking from personal experience!) because you just don’t know how a car has been driven by those other folk. But these cars compel you to drive them hard, which is one of the reasons why they’re loved. Encouragingly for Gordini Series number 0429 of 500, there are plenty of service stamps in the book, the big cambelt and water pump change earlier this year (less than 5,000 miles ago) and a condition that must be better than average. There aren’t signs of excessive wear on the seats, wheel, or gearknob, the paint looks great and the wheels seem free from significant damage. We’ve surely all seen far less presentable 12-year-old Renaultsports.
The price is £7,499, which seems fair given it’s hard to find a Clio 200 of any description for much less than £7k. The glory days of £5k good’uns seem done now, sadly, which was inevitable. For many if not most, this era of Clio is the ultimate evolution of the time-honoured pocket rocket formula: rorty 16-valve engine powering the front wheels, manual gearbox in the middle, built as light as possible and offered as cheaply as was realistic. As so many that went before it in the same vein appreciated, so too the Clio. And with low mileage examples already on offer at almost twice the price of this Gordini, don’t delay. It’s hard to imagine this ever being a £20k Clio ever again, but there aren’t many, if any, hot hatch legends left that now stand to become more affordable.
SPECIFICATION | RENAULTSPORT CLIO GORDINI
Engine: 1,998cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 200@7,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 159@5,400rpm
Recorded mileage: 87,426
Year registered: 2011
Price new: £19,650 (2011)
Yours for: £7,499
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