Jan 31 2010 Mike Torpey
Hot stuff makes Renault a winner
IF you fancy a piece of the serious action this spring then look no further than Renault.
The French company has a proven sporting pedigree ranging from world titles in Formula One to touring car and rally championships.
But in recent weeks it's the road cars that have been scooping top accolades, with Renaultsport models taking a hat-trick at this year's What Car? awards.
In an unprecedented result in the prestigious 'Best Hot Hatch' category, all three price categories were won by the brand's performance arm.
The new Twingo Renaultsport 133 Cup landed the under £15,000 category, the Clio Renaultsport 200 Cup took the £15,000 to £20,000 section and the latest introduction, the new Mégane Renaultsport 250, won the over £20,000 group.
And to top it all, the Mégane was also crowned overall 'Hot Hatch of the Year 2010'.
While these models continue to raise the hot hatch bar, Renault has also brought the sporty look and feel to the core Clio range with the launch of a new 'S' version.
Resurrecting the successful Clio S formula from the early 90s, the latest three-door versions hark back to the original through their trademark white 16-inch 'Polar' alloy wheels.
The new entrants are based on the Expression specification, currently only available on five-door. They come with a choice of three frugal engines, 1.2 16V 75, 1.2 TCe 100 and 1.5 dCi 86, all of which meet Renault's eco2 criteria. Prices start at £11,209 for the 1.2 16V 75.
Sporty products apart, Renault has such a large stable of cars that there is something for everyone - from city cars and superminis to 4x4s and full-blown people carriers.
Entry point is the funky Twingo, which comes with a 1.2-litre petrol engine for 50mpg economy and emissions of just 132g/km.
The Clio supermini range stretches to an incredible 43 models and kicks off with the 1.2-litre 75 Extreme three-door at £10,485 while small estate the Clio Sport Tourer costs from £11,970 for a 1.2 Expression.
The Modus and larger sibling the Grand Modus are both economical and versatile while the popular Megane compact model comes in a choice of hatchback, coupe and sport tourer body styles with prices from £13,985 for a 1.6-litre 75 Megane Extreme five-door.
The stylish Laguna range also features hatchback, coupe and estate versions ranging from the £17,695 2.0-litre 140 Expression hatch to the range-topping 3.0 V6 dCi GT Coupe at £29,550.
Most popular of the people carriers is the revamped Scenic five-seater - there's also a Grand Scenic if you need an extra row of seats - from £16,495 while space lovers on a budget should consider the Kangoo MPV from £11,200.
And the original space invader, the classy Espace offers a choice of three economical 2.0-litre diesel engines, a 3.0 V6 oil-burner and a pair of 2.0-litre petrol units with prices from £20,295.