The current generation of the RenaultSport Clio is by no means, no slouch. The Clio IV RS and its 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder engine is good for 197 hp, able to get from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds.
But performance numbers and striking design aside, critics said the Clio IV RS lacked the character previous Renaultsport Clios had that made them fun to drive and stand out from other hot hatch options. As many pointed out, the sole transmission paired with the Clio IV RS being a dual-clutch transmission – and with no manual option available, left out a major character defining feature of a performance-oriented Clio model – just like the eager, rev-happy Clio Williams model of the 90s.
What people wanted was a hot Clio that could distill the experience and engineering gone into its bigger Megane Trophy siblings, or give a modern take on the mid-engined legend that was the Clio V6. Which, as Evo Magazine reports, nearly happened. Renaultsport had created an even hotter Clio IV RS for their 40th anniversary: the Renault Clio RS16.
While it was just a concept car to showcase what Renaultsport was capable of after 40 years in operation, the brand was very much interested in putting it into production – even in limited numbers. Equipped with the 2.0L turbocharged engine and brakes from the Megane 275 Trophy-R, a limited slip differential, various suspension components lifted from previous hot Renaultsport models and even the Clio R3T rally car, and more importantly: a six speed manual gearbox, the RS16 could have been what the Clio IV RS should always have come from factory as.
Sadly, despite an appearance at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed, as well as the press getting to meet the production mule in person, the RS16 was never put into production. At the same time, Renault’s more performance-oriented offering, the Alpine A110 was gearing up for production. The Dieppe plant (where high-performance, limited edition Renault models were made) could not accommodate enough labor or time to build the two simultaneously, even if the two shared parts. Ultimately, by the time the Dieppe production line was freed enough to start building the RS16, interest in the model would have waned and likely forgotten in the showrooms, leading to its cancellation.
Read the full feature at Evo Magazine to learn more about what could have been, one very special and collectable Renaultsport Clio. Check out Evo’s road test of the RS16 as well if you want to get an idea of how this drove.