The Renault Clio Williams set the template for all of the hot hatch Renaults that followed it. It’s a monster. A proper, angry little hot hatch that, in so many ways, defines the genre itself.
It was built to homologate entry into the French Rally Championship and it arrived in 1993. The car was named after the then Renault-powered Formula One team WilliamsF1, though Williams had nothing to do with the design or engineering of this Clio. They only built 5,400 of the original version, going on to make a further 6,700 of versions 2 and 3.
It’s powered by a 4 cylinder, 2.0-litre 16-valve engine, with an excellent power to weight ratio, ditching the vogueish need for a turbocharger. The Williams was uprated over standard Clio 16V by 200cc and 15hp. It makes 150hp, enough for 0-100km/h to take 7.8 secs and a top speed of 215km/h, which is hardly a sports car territory.
But who really cares? It does it with such style. It is everything a hot hatch should be. It is fast enough to get you into real trouble if you choose, but also demanding a bit of work to get it there. It’s special, made in limited numbers and valued hugely by collectors today, so there is a sense of occasion to using it. I absolutely want one, and if you get one, I shall be very, very jealous!
And because everything cannot be described by using only words, I give you this magnificent video from Davide Cironi, to show you what the Renault Clio Williams is really all about!