The Hottest Hatch? 2005 Renault Clio V6 Phase 2

Most people tend to agree that the Volkswagen Golf GTi was the original hot hatch. It was where it all began, and many manufacturers have managed to replicate that car’s performance in the decades since it first appeared. However, that begs the question of what is the hottest of the hot hatches. There have been many contenders for the crown, and one of those would have to be the 2005 Renault Clio V6. It changed many of the rules about what defined the genre, and when I saw this one being offered for sale here on Collecting Cars, I felt that it was an excellent question to pose with our readers. The little Renault is located in Dogmersfield, Hampshire, United Kingdom, and it has already received forty-five bids that have pushed the price to £65,000.

The 2005 Renault Clio is a conservatively styled hatchback that is tidy and attractive. However, the appearance of this Clio indicates that there might be something pretty special about this car. It seems that the company drew inspiration from their iconic R5 Turbo of the early 1980s when they pumped out the fenders, added aerodynamic skirts and scoops, and bolted on the largest set of wheels that they could squeeze under the wheel arches. As you will see, this was more than a mere appearance package. Our feature car is 1-of-1,309 examples of the V6 produced between 2003 and 2005. Pushing the rarity stakes higher, it is 1-of-18 sold in the UK wearing Liquid Yellow paint. If the spoilers and scoops virtually guaranteed that this car stood out in a crowd, that paint undoubtedly seals the deal. However, it is also spotless. The little Clio has a genuine 980 miles on the clock, meaning that there have been no opportunities for it to accumulate the marks and chips that you might expect to find on a 16-year-old hatchback. The panels are laser straight, while the aerodynamic additions are in as-new condition. With the glass and 18″ alloy wheels adding to the impression of perfection, it seems this classic needs nothing.

When a regular 2005 Clio rolled off the production line, it featured a transversely mounted four-cylinder engine that powered the front wheels. The hot hatch philosophy would usually see the manufacturer take one of the production engines and “breathe” on it to extract additional performance. However, Renault read the rule book on the hot hatch genre, thought about it carefully, threw the book out the window, and proceeded to do their own thing! If you lift the hood, you will essentially find an empty space where the engine used to be. Thanks to some initial design input from Tom Walkinshaw Racing, Renault willingly sacrificed the Clio’s rear seat and cargo space to install a 2,946cc V6 engine in what it described as a mid/rear-engine configuration. With a few upgrades from its sporting department, the V6 churned out an incredible 255hp. There’s no point having copious amounts of power if you can’t apply it to the road. The Clio achieved this through the rear wheels using a six-speed manual transaxle. The performance figures are simply jaw-dropping for a car of this type. Point it at a ¼ mile, and it could blitz the journey in 14.2 seconds. If a driver is brave enough to keep the pedal to the metal, the V6 would push this hatch to 152mph. Those figures would look impressive if we were discussing a classic muscle car. Considering that the vehicle in question was conceived by its maker to be an affordable commuter option, they are almost out of this world. For potential buyers, the news with this Renault is nothing but good. The car has a genuine 980 miles on the clock. The owner has submitted it for regular MOT inspections since 2009, and it has passed every time with flying colors. The seller indicates that it was last serviced in 2014, which means that it may require a further service and thorough inspection before returning to active duty.

There’s not a lot to say about this Renault’s interior because it is in as-new condition. This is no surprise when you consider the odometer reading. The Clio might be a hard-edged performance car, but the buyer won’t be lacking when discussing safety and luxury. In addition to dual airbags, there is air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, a leather-wrapped wheel that adjusts for height and reach, and a premium Cabasse Auditorium sound system. The beautiful seats appear comfortable and supportive and are upholstered in a combination of leather and synthetic suede. The stubby shifter for the six-speed looks like it would fall easily to hand, and the drilled pedals should ensure that the feet don’t slip when the driving experience becomes spirited.

So, is the 2005 Renault Clio V6 the hottest hot hatch? The simple answer to that question is “no.” The reality is that the 2021 Honda Civic Type R trumps it across the board. It has 316hp available under the driver’s right foot, can cover the ¼ mile in 12.7 seconds, and can wind its way to 169mph. On paper, it is no contest. However, classic cars are about more than mere figures on a piece of paper. They are about appearance and the desire of the manufacturer to push the boundaries to create an instantly memorable vehicle. They encapsulate a desire to boldly embrace lateral thinking to achieve the desired outcome. Renault could have followed the tried-and-true path of breathing on one of their existing four-cylinder engines to produce a traditional hot hatch, and nobody would have complained. Instead, they re-engineered the Clio from front to back to create a genuinely unique vehicle. It might not be the fastest on paper, but I believe that philosophy earns it the right to carry the tag of the hottest hatch. Is that enough to make you want to park it in your driveway?

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Comments

  1. Hoss

    65,000 pounds = $ 89,427.. Holy Cow !!!

    Like 3
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Yeah, this won’t go cheap.

      Like 4
  2. sir_mike

    Beautiful and rare….and we get crap in the US.

    Like 13
  3. Gary

    Sure, but how is it in the snow? Where are the cup holders for my Big Gulp? No place to put down my Big Mac between bites either. The Honda handles modern American needs, that is why the rule the world, and always will.

    Like 6
    • Terrry

      Oh for Pete’s sake. American cars are sold based on if they have cup holders or Bluetooth or “connectivity”, not how powerful or how they handle. Most Americans don’t want a car to drive, they want a four wheeled computer and it’s really a shame.

      Like 20
      • Gary

        It was a (bad) joke guys. All except the Honda stuff, they really do make great cars.

        Like 3
      • chrlsful

        agreed – BUT they Can Not maintain them, Can Not drive them, do not respect the equipment, and so on.
        ‘S OK tho cuz my vote on hot hatch goes much heavier to the Lancia (Delta HF Integrial Evo I or II). Rally car supreme, not the kind of race car seen much in usa (oval or straight ahead – this is 4 da “twisties”).

        Like 1
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Honda rules the world? LOL!

      Don’t tell that to VW, Toyota, Daimler (Mercedes), or Ford who easily outsell them,

      In Japan, Toyota sells almost 3 times as many cars as Honda, even Suzuki sells more than them. Daihatsu and Nissan sell just about the same.

      In America, Toyota sells almost twice as many cars as Honda.

      Like 6
  4. SebastianX1/9

    This car is a masterpiece of Group B rally history homologation. And yes, you better believe you can drive it in the snow – through the forest late at night, actually!

    Like 18
    • KEVIN L HARPER

      Uhh this car came out about 20 years after Group B ended. The Group B Renault would have been the R5.
      While the Clio is a wonderful little car I don’t they even competed in the WRC in this time period.

      Like 2
      • SebastianX1/9

        Thus my use of the word history.

      • MikeB

        Yes Kevin, we are aware of the timing difference regarding Group B. Just talking about the appearance of the car. It kind of looks like a Group B car, minus all the Super Oscar lights of course. I miss Group B.

  5. Derek

    Last one that I saw for sale was around £30k.

    How do you have a car like that that’s done less than 1000 miles? I’d be driving the wheels off it at every opportunity if it were mine.

    Brief correction; it’s based on the Turbo 2 rather than the 5 Turbo, which was the front-drive / pearlescent paint one.

    Like 1
  6. Mikefromthehammer

    Classic Clarkson (and bonus le Stig):

    https://youtu.be/m8aFpBTvz-I

    and short walk-around video of our subject car:

    https://youtu.be/lkhNhnoZ6Cw

    What’s not to love?

    Like 2
  7. MikeB

    Very handsome little car. Yes it does look like a street version of a Group B car – love it ! !

    Like 2
  8. James H

    I know that there was a version of this car earlier than that, I used to LUST after a V6 rear engine Renault when I was stationed in Germany and this was mid to late 90’s. I’d read (or look at pictures LOL) about it in all the German Car rags I’d pick up. Instead, I settled for a ’96 GTi VR6. Sister lived in England at the time, I made it from near Lakenheath BACK to Kaiserslautern in 7 hours….INCLUDING ferry time from Dover to Calais LOL. Was a great little car until VW bought it back, had severe electrical issues, would COMPLETELY shut down, no electronics, no motor, just die. Good times though.

    Like 2
  9. scottymac

    Always thought the PRV (Douvrin) V-6 was a dog (see De Lorean DMC-12)? What did Renault do to wake it up?

    James H.: Good memories of K-Town! They called it our home station, but based in a little hole-in-the-wall site about 15 clicks from the Czech border. (Late ’70s)

    Like 2
    • Concinnity

      They kept on developing it, right through to the 21st century, getting rid of weaknesses and adding capacity and multi-valve heads, till it ended up as a 3 litre 24 valve version as seen here. But typically not seen in the USA as the Peugeot 406, 407, 605, 607, or Citroen Xantia, XM, C5, C6, or Renault Safrane, Laguna, Espace or Avantime were not sold there. It is still one of the winning Le Mans 24Hr engines, (unlike the SBC). It remains the fastest Le Mans engine of all with 253 mph/407 km/h in the “88 race by a WM Peugeot P80.
      Oddly some of it’s greatest racing success was as the basis for the 90° V6 engine used by Alfa Romeo in the 155 V6 Ti in the 1996 DTM/ITC season from Silverstone onwards. The engines in that series required the use of bank separation angle and cylinder bore spacing from a production based engine, and as a 90° V6 has greater room between banks than a 60° V6 for a better induction system, by then, Fiat owned, Alfa Romeo used the PRV as a basis as it had been used in the Lancia Thema, a car which shared its platform with the Alfa Romeo 164.
      Disparaging the whole engine line is like saying no BMW V8s are any good because of some early versions suffering failed liners.

      Like 1
      • KEVIN L HARPER

        The SBC has won Lemans several times in LS form, and the SBF has as well.
        The Later part on the Alfa Romeo is a little misleading. Alfa used the bore spacing and some dimensions as the rules stated the engine had to be “based” on a production engine. The engine was a pure race engine with only thinnest connection to the PRV engine. The Italians are good at stretching the rules to the maximum.

      • Concinnity

        The sbc unlike the sbf and bbf has never won Le Mans outright. Sure, it’s won classes, but not the overall victory. The Alfa connection is important, for a while the Alfa engineers claimed the block was based on the old Montreal V8, before admitting they’d used a PRV block. Don’t forget Mercedes Benz raced a 90degree V6 based on a V8 block with two cylinders cut off. So everyone interpreted the rules fairly liberally. It’s not like they were Toyota in WRC though.

  10. Greg Millard

    A worthy candidate for anyone’s dream garage. Looks/performance/coolness – it has it all. IF Only we could license them in CA.

  11. leon fleet

    I own an Illiad Blue one of these here in New Zealand. Everything you read above re these cars is true. Yes this car is expensive. But come back in 10 years time and you USA car guys will be paying that amount for a 50k mile one in Silver and will galdly hand over the cash and import via the 25yr rule.

    Like 1
  12. steve snyder

    Before the Hy 101 freeway south of San Jose, Ca. was only built from Morgan Hill to Gilroy, an open 3 wide open strait highway. I drove a Lancia Stratos the 10 mile stretch at 148 mph. At mile 8, I came up to a car in the middle lane going approx. 65 mph. Then I realized how fast I was going. Never again since Hy 101 is connected to San Jose.

  13. Pierre

    This would not fit in the Golf/rabbit GTI catégory (it is more expensive, central engine, 2-seater…); for this category, ypu would have to consider the Renault Clio 16S, or Clio wiliams, or Clio RS.

    In France, there was lots of competition, during the 70s/80s/90s for the VW GTI : Renault 5 Alpine Turbo , Peugeot 205 GTI , Renault Super 5 GT Turbo…
    They all gave a tough time to the VW Golf GTI / GTI 1800 and GTI 16S

    In this Clio V6, you will find the same V6 (with improvements) as the one used in the DeLorean DMC.

    Regarding the Honda Type R, the Honda has a front engine (and 4 seats), when the Clio has a central engine monted in the back (and 2 seats), so one cas assume the Clio can compensate, on the sporty ground, her slightly less
    powerfull engine.

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