Clio Williams, the best 90s Hot Hatch ?

The hot hatchbacks are a type of cars that the enthusiasts were proud to drive in the 80s. The law updates in the 90s made them less attractive and the hot hatches were in a danger of extinction. Nevertheless, Renault decided to make the Clio Williams.

Little story of the Clio Williams

In 1990, the Renault Super 5 is replaced by the Clio. For a sport version, we have to wait till 1991 to discover the Clio 16S.
But Renault needs a Group A homologation in rally, so the manufacturer has to produce at least for 2500 cars featuring a 2 litre engine! It’s done in 1993, with a limited serial of 5000 cars, named Clio Williams to commemorate the Formula 1 world champion title in association with the British chassis manufacturer.

The Clio Williams is distinguishes itself from the 16S by its golden Speedline wheels, its blue livery and wider tracks. The commercial success is present and Renault adds the car to its normal product range after few modifications including modified grille and rear lights, 2.0 logo placed on side and the custom plaque is removed.

For the mechanics, both serials use a custom-made 2 liter block, derived from the 16S 1.8 engine (the 2 liter engines available at the time in Renault range involved far too many modifications to be fitted in the car). This engine was originally born as a 1.6 litre Diesel engine. The evolution includes bigger bore, longer stroke, a new cylinder head and a new crankshaft.

This customisation allows the F7R engine to deliver 150 hp. To transfer this power to the road, or the track, the front suspension is the one of the Renault 19 16S.

It’s career ends in 1996 after 17.000 cars produced (5.000 for the first series and 12.000 for the second).

Driving a Clio Williams

Coming inboard of a hot hatchback is always a strange moment cause the interior is apparently the same as the company car you drove… The Clio Williams provides some degree of customization, which tells you that you are not driving a diesel-powered one.
The bucket-seats come from the R19 16S, with a blue W, blue dyed parts and the custom plaque (we are in a rare series 1) make you understand that you are in a particular car. Concerning the adjustments and the plastics, it’s official, we are in a Renault from the early 90s.

Ignition, the engines gives us a evocative sound, because of the Group N exhaust system installed on Jimmy’s car. From the first meters, the 2 liters explains clearly how it works, and the restrained weight is not a problem.

A few years ago, I drove a Clio 16S, and I have to admit, there is a world between both cars. The enlarged tracks make the car more precise, but also less playful. The car is not clumsy but its stability is frustrating for a car of this size.
The Toyo Proxes tires are maybe a cause, and they don’t allow the rear axle to play, unless I brake brutally with the four disc-brakes, easy to dose.

The engine is very effective but I hoped something more brutal. However a look in the mirror confirms that it runs, and not a little! The engine is available at any range, but it seems to be a bit stopped by the limiter. A little more freedom would be a good idea, but I guess the reliability would have been worse.

Buy a Clio Williams

While weaker against corrosion, cars from the first series are more sought after than the cars from the second. Cars from the first series are often more expensive as well, preventing them a little more from more or less mastered modifications.


Before buying one, check the rear wheel arches and the side skirts, because they tend to rust quite easily. Check the steering column as well, it tends to get loose. And last but not least, check the gearbox, the gear synchros wear off when roughly used.

Becoming rare in the UK, you can find a Clio Williams from £4,000 for a Series 2, to £10,000 for a first series in good condition.

4 etoiles



– Williams aura Renault quality in the 90s –
– Performances Rust –
– Handling Modified cars –


Rarity 3-etoiles
Price £4,000 to £10,000

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