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Renault bridges gap with Clio models

23.10.2015

THE fourth generation of Renault’s Clio has been somewhat of a revelation in the local market with around 13 000 units sold since its introduction some two years ago. The range has been crying out for an automatic variant, which has now arrived locally. I went through to the brand’s new Parts Distribution Centre in Kempton Park to drive the new model and also to check out a new budget-friendly version of the Clio.

Tell me about this budget version

Renault has spotted a gap in the market for a cheaper version of the 900cc turbo charged Clio as the uptake of the base model with the 1.2-litre naturally aspirated motor hasn’t been as successful as anticipated. The cheaper version of the Clio is called the Blaze limited edition, which as its name suggests will be limited to a certain amount of units. However, should the model do well, Renault may just make it the new entry point into the Clio range locally.

The Blaze model gets the brand’s downsized 900cc turbo petrol motor with 66kW/135Nm along with the over-boost function, which gives an extra 15Nm/4kW for a brief period in certain gears. To get the price below R180 000 Renault has taken out a few features such as alloy wheels, satellite navigation and fog lamps. The exterior is characterised by the Blaze nomenclature and the interior gets red accents throughout to differentiate the model. We did not have an opportunity to drive the Blaze at launch however, judging from the spec versus price, the model should appeal to many.

Tell me about this automatic

The real star of the show for the launch was the Clio Expression EDC. This model has been brought in to satiate what is an ever-increasing demand for automatic transmissions. The specification Renault has chosen to bring in is the popular Expression trim, meaning the new variant gets 16-inch alloy wheels, the seven-inch media/navigation system and front fog lights.

The important bits are mechanical, though; the model is equipped with the same powertrain seen in the top-spec Captur model. That means an 88kW/190Nm 1.2-litre turbo petrol motor mated to a dual-clutch transmission (EDC). After driving the model I must say that it felt better than the Captur EDC. The gearbox feels more willing to respond however, it is still by no means hasty. The model is claimed to get from 0-100km/h in 9.4 seconds while returning 5.2 litres/100km and being exempt from emissions tax. I managed a figure of around 7.0 litres/100km, which I still feel is acceptable for a car of this nature.

Verdict

Both these models fill a certain gap in the B segment: The Blaze, a gap which bridges the Clio and Sandero ranges and the Expression EDC, a gap where Renault needed an automatic contender. The problem is, the Expression EDC is not as well specified as the Clio GT-Line and Dynamique models meaning the range-topping model (the EDC) isn’t as richly specified as cheaper models. But, at the same time, should Renault release a Dynamique version of the EDC it may be too costly and may encroach on Captur EDC sales.

Warranty and service plan

Both these new models get the same five-year/150 000km warranty and three-year/45 000km service plan as the rest of the Clio range.

Pricing:

Clio Blaze Limited Edition 66kW Turbo R179 900
Clio Expression 88kW Turbo EDC R234 900

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Article written by Sean Nurse
23.10.2015
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