Production for the Alpine sports car ended up taking priority over the hot hatch

The Renault Sport Clio RS16 Concept was supposed to get a production model, with recent spy shots suggesting that Renault was already doing test runs for the super hot hatch. Well, douse those hopes and dreams with water because the Clio RS16 will no longer make it to production.

A spokesman for Renault broke the news to Autocar, saying that the company came to this decision in large part because of the start of production of the Alpine sports car. Apparently, the Clio RS16 was supposed to be built at the Alpine Dieppe production facility, the same facility that will handle the production of the Alpine sports car. Seeing as the facility specializes in low volume, hand-built production cars, Renault came to the conclusion that it needed all hands on deck on the sports car, leaving very little resources on the side of the Clio RS16.

Essentially, the Alpine sports car was Renault’s priority because the company had bigger and longer term plans for the model, including using it as the first in a series of Alpine models.

Company execs thought about delaying the RS16’s production until the production for the Alpine sports car got off the ground, but ultimately decided it couldn’t come up with a reasonable timetable - earliest launch would’ve been 2018 - to avoid keeping its customers waiting too long. So, instead of delaying it, Renault went with icing the model completely.

The news comes as a blow to a lot of people who had high expectations for the Clio RS16, myself included. At the time of the concept’s launch last May, the super hot hatch was billed as the highest performance road-going R.S. model in history, an achievement in it of itself considering that Renault Sport was also responsible for pocket rockets like the Megane RS275 Trophy-R. At the very least, the Clio RS16 was also pegged to be a real threat in annihilating the Nurburgring lap record for a front wheel drive car that’s currently held by the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S.

Well, the Golf GTI Clubsport’s lap record is safe…for now.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

That’s a bummer, isn’t it?

Like almost everyone else, I had ridiculously high hopes for the Renault Sport Clio RS16. That’s the kind of feeling you get when you’re presented a concept that features the 271-horsepower 2.0-liter engine from the aforementioned Megane R.S. 275 Trophy-R in the lighter and smaller body of the Clio RS. Put those two things together and it’s immediately clear that the Clio RS16 was built for a specific reason: performance.

Consider this: the Clio RS 220 comes with the smaller 1.6-liter turbo-four engine that produces 217 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers allow the hot hatch to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 6.6 seconds before hitting a top speed of 146 mph. Now imagine if that same Clio RS was completely modified to use the bigger Megane engine, while also keeping the car’s weight as light as possible and adding an assortment of tech and mechanical components to fit everything together.

You get the 271-horsepower Clio RS16.

Here’s another thing to consider: the Clio RS 220’s lap time around the Nurburgring was 8:23, a record for compact hatchbacks. Conversely, it’s big brother, the Megane RS 275 Trophy posted a lap time of 7:54.36. Now imagine if the same engine that rocketed the Megane to that lap time was put inside the Clio and given enough modifications to make for a smooth change. Do you think the Honda Civic Type R’s 7:50.63 lap record for a front-wheel-drive car would be safe? I certainly don’t think so.

Unfortunately, the business side of the industry has prevented us from seeing that, even though, I personally can’t blame Renault for prioritizing the Alpine sports car. It’s the right business move, even though it sucks that it had to come at the expense of the Clio RS16.

Read our full review on the 2016 Renault Clio R.S. 16 Concept here.

Source: Autocar

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