The plug has been pulled to free space for the upcoming Alpine sports car.
Hot hatch fans the world over are in mourning as Renault has announced that the lunatic Renault Sport Clio RS16 concept will not reach production.
The RS16 combined the light, nimble Clio bodyshell with weapons-grade running gear and the stonking, 271 horsepower (202 kilowatts), 2.0-liter turbo motor from the Megane RS 275 Trophy-R, one-time Nurburgring front-wheel-drive record holder and the fastest car Renault has ever made.
Reviews of the prototype suggested there was an excellent chance the RS16 would be able to reclaim the front-drive ‘Ring record for the French. Renault Sport enthusiasts and company heads clamored for it to be made a reality. Despite the likely €45,000 ($48,000) price for the small run of cars planned.
But those hopes have now been dashed. According to Autocar, the RS16 has been sacrificed in order to free up capacity for the upcoming Alpine sports car.
The standard Clio RS is built at the Alpine factory in Dieppe, France, alongside the Clio Cup and Formula Renault race cars. Now the facility is getting ready for the new Alpine, company chiefs were reportedly concerned about diverting attention with the RS16, a car that would have to be built by hand.
A spokesman for the company said: “The option of delaying RS16 until after the start-up of Alpine was considered but this would have meant launching the car in the first half of 2018, which is too long for customers to wait.”
When the concept was unveiled, Renault officials talked of their hope that the RS16 would become an icon in the company’s history, up there with the likes of the mid-engined R5 Turbo and Clio V6.
The RS16 would have been particularly welcome in light of the lukewarm response to the standard Clio RS, with its 1.6-liter turbo motor and standard-fit paddle-shift gearbox. Sales have faltered in the traditionally strong UK market, but Renault insists it has been well received in new markets and total sales have not tailed off.
Without the RS16, Renault Sport’s next launch will be the new Megane RS, which is expected to have as much as 300 hp (224 kW).