The new Renault Megane RS Trophy has 300 bhp, is as track-focused as a 911 GT3-RS and can be ordered with a £21,000 carbon fibre wheel option. Back in 1993 for less than that option alone, you could have purchased an even more special hatchback, the iconic Renault Clio Williams, one of Renault’s finest cars and quite possibly the best front wheel drive car of the 1990s.
The lineage of sport-fettled Clio’s is chocked with more award winners and classics than a Daniel Day-Lewis film; the near perfect Cup 200 Cup renowned for its handling fluidity to the hardcore 182 Trophy to the totally insane V6 (of which two generations were produced). Yet it was the Williams version of 1993 that first set this lineage in motion. Strictly limited to 5,400 (although they made many more in the end) the Williams was a homologation to allow the Clio to go rallying. Available only in Metallic Sport Blue with gold wheels, the Williams looks as distinctive as a special edition car should.
The other upgrades to the Williams were more mechanical in nature; uprated suspension including new anti-roll bars, springs and dampers. The bodywork was subtly toned and those wheels weren't just a bit of bling, the 15 inch rims are wider than on the stock Clio to account for the increased power. 142 bhp from the Clio was developed by substantially fettling the existing 2.0 litre engine. The bore was increased in size, and new pistons, conrods and a lighter exhaust manifold installed to enhance the performance of the Clio Williams. 
To fully appreciate the car is to take it to the narrow, twisting roads EVO always find and really push the Clio to its limits. Through the first few corners heading north, the Clio feels as natural and familiar as a reliable old pair of trainers. The steering is a perfect blend of natural weight, infinite adjustability and instant response that allows for ridiculous approaches to be taken without much fear of crashes. The weight of the steering gives solid feedback on turn in, translating the grip available with perfect accuracy. The steering is also quick, not so much to be a handful, but sporty enough as to be utterly and addictively engaging.
There is only one way in which the Clio handles, in a tripod fashion with a boot full of lift-off oversteer. Whilst lift-off oversteer can be a dangerous and unenjoyable experience (look at the original 911 Turbo) the way the Clio shifts into lift-off oversteer however is forgivably adorable. For one, the oversteer is easily controllable and offers a real 'scruff of the neck' approach to be taken with the Clio, safe in the knowledge that no matter how stupid you are with the entry speed, the Clio will see you home safe. Secondly, the fluidity in which the Clio shifts in and out of oversteer further showcases the talent of its remarkably sorted chassis. The lack of weight over the rear wheels and the sudden transfer of mass in the Clio leads to a bucketful of fun at any turn.
It is important to remember the absolutely diminutive size of the Clio. The size may be easy to overlook but is an essential ingredient in what makes it so special to drive. If it were any larger or heavier (948 kg) it wouldn't be able to maintain the light, responsive chassis it so effortlessly deploys through the tight corners of Scotland. The size also explains how such subtle visual changes make such a dramatic difference to the Clio. The wheels are tiny by modern standards but nicely fill the arches making the car look dramatic. The wheels too are confined to the far corners of the car, making it look squatter and helping the steering. The tiny wheelbase certainly contributes to the delicate handling balance that has this reviewer totally smitten.
The upgraded engine barbles when idle, sounding equally eager and aggressive. Power delivery is consistent too, no worry of turbo-lag, the Renault relies on natural induction alone. Acceleration is brisk enough and for a car its age it is surprisingly competent. Just like with the handling the Clio requires thrashing with the throttle to get the most out of it. 
Track Notes​​​​​​​
Whereas the Williams would easily keep up with far faster cars on tight twisting roads, that precision and chuckability doesn't immediately suit the wider, faster corners of the Falcon Speedway race track. The Clio remains fun with delicate steering but loses some of the click-and-point handling found on the back roads. To try and focus the rear end of the Clio is an interesting concept, it will pull itself into line should you restrain your entry speed but it feels so unnatural. It feels restrained and surprisingly mundane, understeer even manages to slip in. It may take practice but the best way to maximise performance is to balance the tripoding and oversteer to maximise performance. Taking these speeds, the Clio bonces with enthusiasm through these corners, shuffling its body and settling comfortably, the Clio is in its element when being driven right at the limit. It is here that the Clio feels most natural and responsive. Feeling how the rear end chases the front its the surefire way of knowing that you're driving the Clio properly. Relying on this weight transfer and being able to merely scrub off speed however is a poor idea, like buying a greenhouse next to a football field. For whilst the brakes are perfectly adequate on a road, under the faster conditions of a race track, they begin to feel spongy and can lead to clenched teeth grins as the Clio struggles to shake off its speed. As such, the Clio requires a finessed approach to braking but an aggressive approach to steering.

Lap time
 Renault Clio Williams - 1:04.6 
(Recorded around Falcon Speedway Indy)
1993 Renault Clio Williams - Retro Hot Hatch 
Performance Index - C 502, Speed - 5.6, Handling - 5.2,
Acceleration - 5.7, Launch - 7.3, Braking - 4.3,
Price - 30,000 Cr, 142 Bhp, 2233 lb.

5/5 - One of the purest and most enjoyable road cars you can buy. Slightly less competent on a track but has more than enough charisma to make it a truly iconic car.
(Photos and driving impression gathered from Forza Horizon 4)

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