The Clio Renaultsport 197 is already being hailed by many as the undisputed small hot hatch class benchmark, but Renault’s performance arm has already sought to move the game onto the next level with the launch of the eagerly-anticipated Clio Renaultsport F1 Team R27. This new limited edition is also the first Clio Renaultsport 197 to feature the new Cup Chassis, which will become optional on the standard model later in 2007.

Built at the Renaultsport factory in Dieppe, the new addition to the Clio Renaultsport range is inspired by the back-to-back success of the FIA World Championship winning-Renault F1 Team, and understandably shares part of its name with this year’s Grand Prix car, the R27.

Continuing Renault’s rich heritage for producing grin-inducing hot hatches, the Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27 features £1,500 worth of extra kit within its price tag of £17,250. Among the specification improvements are the aforementioned Cup Chassis, plus 17″ Anthracite coloured alloy wheels, extra tinted windows, red painted brake callipers, Recaro seats and exclusive Renault F1 Team decals (those on the doors and roof are a no-cost delete option).

In keeping with Renault’s tradition for offering a Cup Chassis option on its models for those performance enthusiasts who want an even more focused driving experience, the Cup Chassis fitted as standard on Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27 and includes a raft of enhancements for both track and road driving.

Among them, the ride height has been lowered by 7mm compared to the Clio Renaultsport 197 to ensure a lower centre of gravity and reduced load transfer for more effective cornering. Its cornering power has been improved even further by the springs which have been stiffened by 27% at the front and 30% at the rear, giving reduced body roll and pitch when cornering. With a 10% increase in bending stiffness and more flexible bump-stops, the double-axis strut suspension system is also more stable when braking and offers greater steering precision when negotiating bends in quick succession. Lastly, it is equipped with the standard Clio Renaultsport 197’s robust, powerful Brembo brake system, using 312mm ventilated disks at the front and 300mm solid disks at the rear.

Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27 is powered by a normally-aspirated 2.0 16V engine and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Offering a wide power band, maximum power of 197hp is available at 7,250rpm, with 215Nm of torque at 5,550 rpm. The new flagship Clio Renaultsport reaches 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds and takes only 27.5 seconds to travel 1,000 metres from a standing start. Combined fuel consumption is 33.6 mpg with carbon dioxide emissions of 199 grams per kilometre.

The Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27 has standard decals on the front, rear, roof and door to celebrate Renault F1 Team’s Championship victories in 2005 and 2006. Customers also have the option to choose not to have the roof and door decals if they prefer, at no additional cost.

In keeping with its motorsport lineage, the new version also features Brembo four-piston brake callipers at the front, Liquid Yellow paint which originally appeared on the Clio Renaultsport 182 and Clio Renaultsport V6 255 and exclusive Renault F1 Team badging. Derived from the world of Formula One, it also boasts a rear air diffuser which channels airflow to increase downforce on the car’s rear end, so counteracting lift. Meanwhile, on the side of the car, extractor vents on the front wings reduce turbulence to optimise the car’s drag co-efficient and facilitate the outflow of under bonnet heat.

Including Liquid Yellow, the new model is available in six colours, including two non-metallic (Ultra Red and Racing Blue) and four metallic colours (Liquid Yellow, Deep Black, Nimbus and Albi Blue).

The Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27 offers the same comprehensive standard equipment list as the Clio Renaultsport 197, but in addition to air conditioning, cruise control, ESP and speed limiter, the new version adds 17″ Anthracite coloured alloy wheels, red painted brake callipers, Renaultsport Recaro Seats, extra tinted rear windows, 60W radio and MP3 compatible CD player with four speakers, two tweeters and fingertip remote controls, and a 1 to 500 numbered plaque and F1 Team decals.

The Recaro seats are usually an £850 option but feature as standard on the Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27, offering harness cut-outs for a sporty look as well as a weight saving of six kilograms.

The numbered plate alongside the handbrake leaves no doubt as to the unique sporting heritage of the Clio Renaultsport F1 Team R27.

A full range of Renaultsport accessories will be available shortly for personalising other models in the Clio III range, including a Clio Cup rear spoiler, side skirts, twin exhaust pipes and front bumper lower grille. Further details and pricing will be available in May.

Ordering is open now for the New Clio Renaultsport 197 F1 Team R27, priced at £17,250 on-the-road with a competitive insurance group rating of 15E.