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New Renault Clio in full bloom

12.04.2013

WELCOME, we’ve been expecting you. This is what I’m sure many of us mumbled to ourselves when we heard the Clio 4 had been launched in South Africa.

Renault hasn’t tried to hide just how important this model is to the brand. It’s been the company’s top-selling vehicle since its original inception all those years ago and has been raking in the awards ever since.

The Clio 4 certainly has a big legacy to live up to and with one glance at the vehicle, you realise this new generation is up to the task.

Seductive French styling

It oozes that French charm we know and love, as its body language immediately seduces you with its aggressive lines and coupé-like silhouette. It looks dynamic and boasts a very sporty persona thanks to its pronounced face.

Admittedly it’s going to take more than a hot-looking hatch to get people to want to purchase the Clio and the suits at Renault believe it’s more than just a looker. And they’re right!

Superb downsizing

With engine design in the brand’s very DNA and having perfected the art of downsizing, Renault’s equipped the latest-generation Clio with a three-cylinder 66kW turbo engine and while it’s by no means a thrill-inducing powertrain, I can stand back and admire the technology that has gone into producing such a smooth 900cc motor. Yip!

Getting behind the wheel of the Clio 4, you could be forgiven for thinking that the car was being powered by a larger powertrain, but this is the next generation of downsizing and the 900cc engine is more than willing and capable.

Equipped with 66kW of power, available low down the rev range, and 135Nm of torque, this little runabout achieves an impressive claimed fuel-consumption figure of 4.5 litres/100km, with Co2 emissions at 105g/km. That said, these figures come without sacrificing any of the car’s performance.

Various specifications

The other engine available in the range, which wasn’t available to drive at launch, is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder with 55kW of power and will be offered exclusively in the entry-level Clio Authentique 5-door. This derivative comes fitted with a host of standard features, including cruise control, LED daytime running lights, ESP and Bluetooth connectivity along with USB and Aux in. However, to fit an air con to this model will set you back an additional R10 000.

Moving up the list, you’ll find the mid-range Clio 4, fitted with the 900cc turbo engine in Expression guise, while the range-topping Dynamique will also be available with additional bells and whistles.

These cars come pretty loaded with creature comforts, far outweighing many of the competitors and introducing features that were previously unavailable in this segment, such as navigation and hill assist.

Clio's ace up its sleeve

The competitors should have reason to quiver on spec levels alone, but after revealing the pricing - which even took many a customer by surprise in Renault’s focus groups - many brands may need to go back to the drawing board surrounding their pricing.

Class-leading safety

In addition to the in-car comforts and niceties, Renault didn’t forget to throw in all the paramount safety equipment, resulting in a five-star Euro Ncap best-in-class status for the new Clio.

Apart from the already mentioned ESP, all Clios are fitted with additional active safety features including ASR traction control, ABS, EBD and EBA as well as electric variable-rate power steering and cruise control with speed limiter.

The Clio houses four airbags (two front and two side airbags), as well as seat belts equipped with pre-tensioners and load limiters.

Renault seems to be doing a good job at bringing in magnificently designed cars that are fun to drive and aggressively priced. Now all it needs to do is actively work at changing consumer perception around the brand and we could find a real winner cruising our streets soon.

As is the case across Renault’s entire product range, all three Clio variants come standard with a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and 3-year/45 000km service plan.

Article written by Stuart Moir
12.04.2013
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