Motoring Road Test: Renault Sport Spider
Saturday 30 March 1996
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.
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.
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
Arsenal strengthened their grip on a top-four finish with a straightforward 3-0 win over Hull City.
Life & Style blogs
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 How We Met: Alison Moyet & Emma Kennedy: 'I knew we'd be friends because she was happy to make a prat of herself'
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...