Car Show Outtake: 1994 Renault Clio Williams – The Hottest Subcompact Hatch Of The Nineties

From 1989 to 1997, the Williams-Renault F1 team was highly successful in the Formula One World Championship. But the UK based Williams company was not involved in the development or production of the Renault Clio Williams, introduced in 1993. It was a Williams in name only, as this pitbull of a hatchback was entirely the work of Renault Sport.

More specifically, the Clio Williams was a rallysport homologation special. To compete in its class (with a maximum displacement of 2,000 cc), at least 2,500 road cars had to be built. Renault Sport had an excellent starting point for their mission, the sporty Clio 1.8 16v.

The track width was increased by 34 mm and both the suspension and the 5-speed manual transmission were reinforced and modified. The Williams is powered by Renault’s F7R inline-4, a naturally aspirated 2.0 liter DOHC 16v engine. Its maximum power output is 147 DIN-hp @ 6,100 rpm. In the road cars, that is.

The Renault Clio subcompact (B-segment) hatchback was launched in 1990, it superseded the 1984 second generation of the R5. The current generation of the Clio is available as a hatchback and wagon, the crossover based on the Clio is called the Captur.

Some of its direct European competitors were -and still are- the Volkswagen Polo, the Opel Corsa, the Ford Fiesta and the Peugeot 205 (and later 206, 207 and 208). Examples of Japanese and South-Korean competitors are the Toyota Yaris, Mazda 2, Kia Rio and Hyundai i20.

The Williams I caught is a Clio Mk1 Phase 2, that’s the refreshed 1994 model. Selling at least 2,500 units of the original 1993 Williams Phase 1 was easily achieved. Given its commercial success, Renault decided to continue the production of the Williams and released the Phase 2 and later on even a Phase 3. The Williams Phase 1, with a numbered small plaque on the dashboard, is considered to be the most desirable now.

Regardless the phase they represent, all of them have golden 15” Speedline rims.

The interior of a Phase 1. The small, metal plaque can be seen left of the center air vents.

The Williams’ initial color was Blue Sport 449, somewhere in 1995 (according to a Dutch Clio Williams forum) it changed to a different shade, called 432 Blue Methyl.

Allez, now it’s about time to see one in action, going around the Nürburgring.

The Peugeot 205 GTI ruled the eighties, the Renault Clio Williams took its crown in the nineties. What a pure beastie it is!