Motoring Road Test: Renault Sport Spider

You drive Renault's new Spider at your peril. The dash-top deflector that substitutes for a windscreen sweeps airborne midges and spray harmlessly over your head. And it does nothing to protect against flying stones and bumble bees. Even a moth becomes a blinding missile at 80mph. Ideally, you need to tog up like a motorcyclist in this uncompromising, back-to- basics sports car.

The absence of a windscreen is one of the more bizarre features of the mid-engined Spider, built in small numbers at Renault's Alpine works in Dieppe. As there is no hood or heater, either, the Spider's role as serious transport is even more limited than that of the primitive Caterham (nee Lotus) Seven. Renault sees it as a street-legal race car, as a "single- seater for two". Expect to see 30 tweaked and lightened cars in the Spider Cup, starting at Donington on 8 April.

Although inspired by the Lancia Stratos, Ferrari Dino and Lotus Seven, there is nothing retrogressive about its aluminium chassis or attention- grabbing bodywork, fashioned in composite polyester. Its suspension, brakes and 150 horsepower 2.0-litre twin-cam engine (lifted straight from the Clio Williams) are bang up to date, too.

By supercar standards, the wide and surprisingly hefty Spider is not sensationally fast. Acceleration is brisk rather than brutal, reflecting a modest power-to-weight ratio. Phenomenal handling, cornering and braking make it swift and entertaining. Steering is supersensitive and uncorrupted by power assistance. Ditto the heavy brake. Metal-to-metal suspension joints provide the sort of tactile feedback normally found only in karts and racing cars. Civilised sports coupes like Rover's mollycoddling F- type don't get close for raw, masochistic fun. It remains to be seen whether the upcoming Lotus Elise is a worthy challenger.

Screenless left-handed Spiders will be on sale in Britain soon. If you want right-hand drive (and windscreen/hood protection), you'll have to wait a little longer - and pay a bit more.

Specifications

Renault Sport Spider, approx pounds 25,000 Engine: 2.0 litres, four cylinders, 16 valves, 150bhp at 60OOrpm (180bhp for racer). Five-speed manual gearbox (six-speed on racer), rear-wheel drive. Top speed 134mph, 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds, fuel consumption 32.5mpg.

Rivals

Caterham Seven 2.OVXi, pounds 20,700 (less as kit)

Fiat Barchetta, pounds 13,995 (left-hand drive)

Lotus Elise (price of imminent new model not yet known)

MG F 1.8VVC, pounds 17,995

Morgan Plus Four, pounds 21,896

TVR Chimera 4.0, pounds 29,450

Westfield 2.Oi ZEi 220, pounds 21,450

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before