Spied on a number of occasions undergoing testing, the first official images also coincides with the marque’s aim of moving more upmarket, with the overall design being headlined by a tablet-shaped infotainment system that according to reports, measures 9.3-inches, and an all-digital instrument cluster that will come in seven and ten-inch sizes.
As well as plusher materials and a more minimal use of buttons, the redesigned centre console sees the gear lever moving closer to an all-new steering that seemingly borrows from alliance partner Nissan, while the rotary dials for the air-conditioning have been kept though redesigned.
Speaking to Britain’s Autocar, Renault Head of Design, Laurens Van den Acker, said an improvement in quality over the previous Clio was “dramatically needed”, and admitted that around 70% of developing the newcomer centred on the interior.
“That’s [interior quality] really where we’ve been criticised in the last few years, and we’re trying to create a very coherent concept. [In the previous Clio] the hard plastic was in your face. Now what’s soft is close and what’s hard is far away. We’ve benchmarked against our competitors, but we’re reaching towards premium segment cars. Of course we have hard plastics but you don’t see them. That’s clever design and doesn’t cost anything,” Van den Acker said.
“The interior is where the emphasis is, but the difference between today and tomorrow is cars become smart.“The Clio 4’s instrument cluster was rich on decoration but not information. Designers like the idea of getting rid of buttons because Apple takes buttons away. But in a smartphone you’re concentrating and in a car you’re doing 120kph. It takes maturity to accept that it’s common sense”.
In a related response about the interior when quizzed by Auto Express, Van den Acker stated that as well as being more premium, creating a sporty factor behind the wheel was key during the pre-production phase, which has been achieved by providing the “spaciousness and comfort of the Mk2 Clio, the performance of the third generation and the emotional style of the Mk4”.
“As an example, we have a smaller steering wheel and a smaller steering wheel column. This helps to free up a bit more knee room for the driver – up to 15mm more on one side, and 12mm on the other”.
Set to move to Nissan’s CMF-B platform that currently underpins the Micra, the Clio will also be new up front with the phasing out of the long-serving 898cc three-cylinder and 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, in favour of a new 1.0-litre triple and the 1.3-litre four-cylinder co-developed with Daimler. A revised version of the 1.5 dCi will also be offered in some market, along with a plug-in hybrid variant.
The performance RS meanwhile will reportedly ditch the 1.6-litre turbocharged motor for a detuned version of the 1.8 powering the Megane RS and Alpine A110, but despite the former being offered with a manual or EDC dual-clutch gearbox, the Clio will allegedly continue with the latter only.
As previously indicated, the biggest change will the level of autonomy on offer, with the inclusion of aids such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning contributing in Level 2 self-driving, which will allow the driver to remove his/her hand from the wheel completely.