Renault Clio V6 is one of the craziest cars to come from a major automaker. With a 3.0-liter V6 that naturally sits where the rear seats live and drives the rear wheels being pushed out like a supercar and covered in glowing arches of fat, it’s nothing like the everyday front-wheel drive econobox Clio.
But a new documentary with the designer in charge of the Clio V6 shows that the project started with the wilder idea of dropping a Renault Twingo body onto a Ferrari 308 chassis and running it as a personal project.
Axel Brion, now Renault’s chief design director, told the Crown Unfiltered podcast team how he loved the look of the ’90s Twingo city car, but was disappointed that such a daring car had been let down by a bad car. An old technology drivetrain that can date back to the Renault 4 in the early 1960s.
The initial idea of dropping the Daihatsu Charade GTTi’s three-cylinder, 12-valve turbocharged engine was burnt out due to mating issues with the electronics, but rather than scale back his ambitions, Bruen went to a larger scale, and began looking for a car with a wheelbase that would match 92.3 inches ( 2345 mm) Twingo, and one found in the Ferrari 308 (92.1 in., 2340 mm), which had a separate chassis, so in theory it could easily be combined with the small Renault.
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“The good thing is that Ferrari came from a different place [older] period, so the track wasn’t wide, while the Twingo, for its class, was a very wide car,” Brion recalls.
But although he persuaded Renault to donate an unused Twingo shell and on more than one occasion came close to buying an accident-damaged 308 to get the project done, Breun couldn’t get the money together to make it happen.
Fortunately, the sketches behind Breun’s desk have garnered influential fans, including Renault’s design chief, Patrick Le Kimon. As Renault’s product planning department was eager to promote the Clio’s performance image, the idea was salvaged, overhauled, and production started, but now in the Clio’s chassis, the 3.0-liter V6 Laguna.
Breun was instrumental in some key designs at Renault, including the revival of the Alpine brand, but you can tell he’s very proud of his idea of a miniature supercar, and also the first example of the TWR line that was gifted to him via a thank you, and now it sits in own garage.