ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: New Renault Clio range
With stand-out styling and some interesting new technology, MARTYN COLLINS enjoys a first drive of the new Renault Clio range.
There’s no doubt that the Clio is a key car for Renault and with 12-million sold in 115 countries, it is a major player in the supermini market.
Well, six years after the last, here’s Renault’s answer to current supermini champions the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, the fourth-generation Clio.
On top of bold new exterior and interior styling, the new hatch features more technology, greater efficiency and driver appeal. The new Clio is also wider (+24mm), longer (+35mm), lower (+45mm) and lighter, which equals an average 100kg lighter over the outgoing car.
Outside, this Clio’s styling is the first production Renault to debut the new family look for the brand, although in the Clio’s case it’s not difficult to spot design cues from the 2010 Dezir concept car.
The work of design boss Laurens van der Acker, from the front, the most obvious feature is the massive Renault badge, which is made more distinctive still by the large, bug-like headlamps with chrome details and separate LED driving lights. The front wings and bonnet are also sculpted.
Stand out design features from the side include the curvy, coupe-like roof line and unique cut out on the Clio’s flanks, which on the Dynamique models we drove, was accentuated by gloss black trim. Only available as a five-door now, the high shouldered design is kept clean by cleverly hiding the rear handles, Alfa Romeo-style.
Move to the back of the Clio and there are split lights, tall rear quarters which fold into the curvy window which, when driving, compromises rear vision. Finally, our Dynamique test car was also fitted with a subtle rear diffuser under the bumper, which was finished in gloss black.
Like the exterior styling? Well, the interior is equally boldly styled. The centre console of our Dynamic MediaNav car was dominated by a seven-inch touchscreen which controls the sat-nav, radio and Bluetooth. Considering how cluttered most modern dashboards are, I like how clean the Renault’s is. Although some switchgear is still poorly placed in my opinion.
MediaNav isn’t the top system available in the Clio, stump up an extra £450 later in the year and Renault will fit its R-Link software. Basically it is a fully integrated tablet with a seven-inch touchscreen and features include email access, eco driving software and TomTom navigation with LIVE services.
On top of this, like Apple and Android devices, a number of downloadable apps will be available. These include games, tweeting and being able to change the sound of your Clio via the standard 4x35W 3D sound system.
Our Dynamique test car included plenty of glossy piano black trim for the steering wheel, centre console and door pulls. However, you can go further with a range of colour-coded trims to match the exterior finish.
This is on top of a selection of alloy wheels and decals to make this Renault supermini truly your own.
Despite the smart interior design, I still have worries about the quality of the plastics. I have particular issues with the door trims and lower dash in particular, which are made from hard, scratchy material.
The seats in the new Clio are closer to the ground, this along with a greater range of adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering column, mean most should be able to find a comfortable driving position. There’s plenty of space in the front, with room in the back almost as impressive with 830mm of legroom.
Whilst it might not be the widest, the boot has 300 litres of space, with a 60:40 split to aid practicality.
Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav trims are available now, with prices starting at £10,595. Hotter GT and Renaultsport versions, just shown at the Geneva Motor Show, follow shortly. I got the chance to try the 900cc TCe petrol and the 1.4-litre dCi diesel, both producing 90 bhp. The other engine available is a 75bhp 1.2 16v petrol engine.
These engines are available at launch with five-speed manual transmission, although dual-clutch automatic transmission is expected to follow later in the year.
The TCe is an impressive engine, it might be just 898cc in size, but with the turbo, it has the performance of a much bigger engine. Smooth and refined, it’s hard to tell there’s actually a blower fitted. Top speed is 113mph, with acceleration to 62 taking 12.2 seconds and despite the performance, the emissions are just 104 g/km.
The 1.5 dCi is on the whole, a smooth, torquey engine. Generally refined, but there is some diesel clatter at start and idle. It is well-mated to a slick five-speed gearbox too. Capable of a combined 83.1mpg fuel figure, top speed is 112mph with 0-62mph acceleration in 11.7 seconds.
For an extra £250, Renault will fit low rolling resistance tyres, longer gear ratios and a plastic boot surround, which work together to drop CO2 and consumption to an amazing 88.3mpg and 83g/km.
The reason for these amazing fuel figures are standard engine stop-start, plus the Clio has been on a bit of a diet. For example, the floor pan and dashboard crossmember are lighter.
Petrol and diesel versions of the new Clio are both a keen drive. The steering is quicker and more reactive (better with the TCe) and the lighter build means the Clio feels more agile. The wider front track (+34mm) makes it a composed handler too.
More impressive, considering the sharp drive, is how comfortable and refined the ride is. Entertaining to drive? Yes, but there is some body roll.
Against the current talent in supermarket, the new Clio needed to be good and although not quite class-leader, it should be considered carefully against the established competition.
Words and pictures: Martyn Collins
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Model: Renault Clio
Body styles: 5-door Hatch
Engines: 90bhp 0.9-litre, 75bhp 1.2-litre 16v, 90bhp1.5-litre dCi
Trim grades: Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav
Prices: from £10,595
In the showroom: Now