The French Have Just Made The Maddest Hot Hatch Americans Will Never See

Hot Hatch

Even if it enters production, this pocket rocket won't come stateside.

For almost as long as it's been stuffing powerful engines into tiny hatchbacks, Renault's been associated with bonkers performance cars. It stems back to the twitchy Renault 5 GT Turbo that made the "Widow Maker" 911 Turbo of the era feel like a Cadillac Cimarron. The French automaker's performance days may have peaked with the two iterations of Renault Clio models that came with a 3.0-liter V6 mounted where the rear seats would normally be. Or have they? "La Regie" is at it again with the new Clio RS 16.

Named in honor of Renault's currently (rather uncompetitive) Formula 1 racer, this Clio hot hatch promises to be the most extreme vehicle to emerge from the Renault Sport factory. The standard car was already known for being a perky little pocket rocket, but this RS 16 model really takes the biscuit. Instead of the 220-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor from the current halo Clio, there's now the the 275-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine from the larger Megane RS Trophy-R. Likewise, the regular RS Clio's dual-clutch transmission is replaced with the snickety six-speed manual from that aforementioned Megane, and the larger Renault's cooling system has been shoehorned into this très petite powerhouse.

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Renault's also spent a lot of the car's five-month development period working on the exhaust system to strike the perfect balance between performance optimization and generating a fruity four-banger soundtrack. The chassis's been redesigned to accommodate the Megane 275-sourced parts, too. The dampers and Brembo brakes, for instance, all come from the former hot hatch record holder. Needless to say, then, a lot of engineering work's gone into the RS 16, which makes Renault's silence on the subject of green lighting the project for production even more infuriating. Yes, we know Renault won't bring the car to the States either way, but it would be criminal to keep this lithe hot hatch stuck at the working prototype phase.