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The World's Hottest Hatch?

The World's Hottest Hatch Nology and Eibach conspire to pump up a modern variation of a legendary theme

Nology and Eibach conspire to pump up a modern variation of a legendary theme.

Stuffing big motors into small places is hardly a new idea. It is, however, one of the most effective methods to extract maximum performance from unlikely candidates. Case in point: The Renault Clio, a somewhat unassuming economy car taken to stratospheric levels by this simple formula.

Hand-assembled in Sweden by none other than TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing), there are less than 1,600 of these road rockets built each year-- the only reason the car even exists is because Renault needed to homologate it for racing. The Clio V6 is essentially a slightly de-tuned version of the same car raced in the Clio Cup, one of Europe's hottest series.

The Clio is not much bigger than a Civic hatchback and space is very limited. Rather than wedge a 250-hp (230 hp DIN) 3.0-liter V6 in the engine bay, TWR places it in the rear seat for superior weight distribution and rear-wheel drive. Although the Clio loses rearward passengers, it more than makes up for it with amazing performance. The V6 Clio is damn close to being a race-ready vehicle--just add gas and go.

So when Nology chose the Clio V6 as its next project vehicle, it was faced with a daunting dilemma. How do you improve a nearly perfect car? The answer was using what many consider to be the finest aftermarket parts from the best manufacturers in the world.

Nology started by using the same wheels used on the Clio Cup cars--O.Z Superturismo--sized 7x17 in the front and 8.5x17 in the rear. Rubber is the new Yokohama AVS ES100--215/45ZR-17 fore and 245/40ZR-17 aft. The crew at Eibach helped develop a suspension to make the most of the Renault's new architecture.

"The Clio V6 has the same characteristics as the 993 Porsche--fairly neutral with a bit of front push," said James Hickerson of Eibach. "We were looking to dial in a little more rear bias, get it to rotate a bit more."

Just like the dominating Audi R8, the Clio now rides on an Eibach suspension. It sits a bit lower than before and sports a ride quality that is both firmer and more controlled, but there's no harshness.

The motor was augmented with a two-stage 100-hp kit from Nitrous Express. "We knew the engine could handle it," said Nology marketing manager Mike Macare. "It appears to be hugely overbuilt. The engine block with all its webbing looks like an IRL motor.

"However, in order to ensure proper ignition, we installed Nology PowerCore coil amplifiers, Silverstone spark plugs and a Nology PowerBand electronic engine management controller, which is only used to control the ignition timing. Without the PowerBand controller, detonation-caused meltdown might be a problem." The Nology ignition upgrades also improved off-nitrous performance, as did the Renault sport exhaust. The car spins (and screams) to a 7100-rpm redline. The Clio's hefty-sized 13-inch ventilated brakes with four-piston calipers were deemed adequate by Nology. However, it did augment the cabin with MOMO's four-point racing harnesses and MOMO racing buckets to ensure driver and passenger remain affixed to their seats. The steering wheel, pedals and shift knob are also from MOMO.

Should the Nology crew get bored with the performance and handling, they installed a Kilowatt amp with remote CD changer and MOMO subwoofers and speakers from Polk Audio. Despite a backseat full of engine, the thundering sound permeates the cockpit.

"After SEMA, the Nology Clio V6 will go to the racetrack," said Macare. "Here's what we expect to see: 0 to 60 mph should be under 5 sec., and the car ought to rip through the quarter mile in the 11-sec. range at 120 to 130 mph. Estimated top speed should be 160 mph. On the skidpad we hope to get above 1g. A Porsche GT 2 should have a hard time keeping up. Engine power is something like 250 bhp stock, 300 hp from the the 1st stage squeeze and 350 bhp out of the 2nd stage squeeze."

Those are big numbers indeed.

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