Renault’s Clio keeps breeding. Initially launching with either a manual-only three cylinder base model or a range of six-speed EDC 1.2-litre turbos, the range has since expanded twice. Late last year was the excellent Clio RenaultSport 200 and now, in what must be the final shot, comes the Renault Clio GT.
The GT is meant to be a halfway house between the standard 1.2 Clio’s ride and handling package and the harder-core RS. It also has a more generous spec level than the other four cylinder offerings and with the price to match.
The GT is set apart from its lesser 1.2 brethren with 17-inch wheels, a lower stance and some stripes and badges. The GT badges actually look pretty cool, almost as cool as the RS badges on the 200.
The GT also gets its own bumper design with wide LED strips as daytime running lights, twin chrome-tipped exhaust and satin grey “blades” along the lower half of the doors. There’s also a GT-exclusive colour, Malta Blue.
The GT Premium replaces the standard rear spoiler with the larger RenaultSport spoiler. It’s not a shouty look.
Inside is standard Clio, but with the larger screen and therefore a rearranged centre stack. There are a few GT badges scattered around and stitched into the front headrests. The Clio’s interior is attractive if a bit tight – the front seats do feel squeezed in between the doors and narrow centre console.
The base car is well-equipped, similar to the Dynamique specification of non-GTs. Auto headlights, auto wipers, adjustable headlights, rear parkings sensors, keyless entry and start, paddle shifters, climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, bluetooth, USB, power windows all round along a very comfortable pair of GT front seats.
The jump to Premium adds satin grey leather trim, a huge section of the roof is replaced with glass with a retractable perforated blind, and the infotainment system is upgraded to the RS-Link, from fast brother Clio RS and even faster cousin, the RenaultSport Megane.
Five star safety is provided by four airbags, pretensioned front seatbelts, three-point belts for all passengers, two IsoFix points, ABS, brake assist, brake force distribution, stability control and hill start assist.
Both versions sport a 7-inch screen, with the Premium picking up R-Link. Both have Bluetooth, USB and sat-nav. The standard car’s four speakers are increased to six in the Premium by way of a pair of tweeters. Sound quality is good and even the bass is rich.
The system is quite useable but it’s easy to get lost. It has an Android-style tiled interface and some swooshy animations and in the seven Clios we’ve driven has never once done anything unexplained.
The Premium has the amusingly novel R-Sound that, like a Fiesta ST, can pipe in engine noises. Except you have a choice of, say, a 1970s motorbike, a Nissan GT-R (!), an old Alpine or a Jetson’s like spacecraft. It’s amusing twice, but kids love it.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
As with the bulk of the Clio range, the GT comes with the 1.2-litre 120 TCE engine. With direct injection and a single turbo it develops 88 kW (or 120 hp, as the name suggests) and 190 Nm of torque. The figures don’t seem particularly promising for a warm hatch, but more of that later.
This tiny engine is mated to Renault’s EDC dual-clutch transmission. It’s a six-speed but, sadly, has no stop/start. Renault claims a 0-100 km/h time of 9.4 seconds and a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 5.2 L/100km.
There are two things that set every Clio apart from the hordes – they have great steering and a sweet, lively chassis.
RenaultSport was drafted in to specify a sportier suspension tune for those of us who like better-than-average-handling (something the standard Clio already dishes up) but can’t afford the insurance, fuel and tyre bills of the 141 kW RS.
They’ve done a splendid job. The car retains its incredibly light, agile feel but also its excellent ride quality. While the GT is certainly a bit stiffer, the ride remains very composed and suspension noise is well damped.
When you start to push the GT, you can see where the RenaultSport badge is deserved – you can carry a lot more speed into the corners and the rear end is more interested in coming along with you.
It has a terrific change of direction, partly down to the well-chosen rack ratio but also that tauter setup.
The 1.2-litre engine isn’t a disappointment once you’re moving, either. The excellent EDC, which just shades the VW DSG, particularly around town, is good at keeping the engine in the torque band. Its 0-100 km/h time really is immaterial – you can dart around the city, squirting in and out of gaps without getting yourself into trouble, riding the torque.
It’s just fine on the highway (even if lets through a little too much road noise) and is enormous fun down a twisty road. Just like every other Clio. This chassis can handle way more power than even the RS has, so there’s plenty in reserve.
The clever bit is that some people will buy the GT for the fact that it’s got a higher spec-level and they won’t be bothered with the better chassis, but nor will it scare them off. It’s a great balance.
SUMMING UP 3.5/5
Renault has two problems here – the first is that there is a very great danger that people won’t really know what it is – all the new Clios are fun to drive and look great so differentiating the GT is hard work.
The second problem contributes to the first – the price. While the base GT isn’t too bad (and, to be honest, the cloth interior is a bit nicer than the leather), the Premium costs more than the cheapest Clio RS 200. Which had us scratching our heads a bit.
Yes the GT has more stuff, and yes it’s great fun to drive, but if the faster car is cheaper (albeit less well-equipped, remember), what would you do? For the extra money, perhaps GT buyers would rightly expect a few more, even token, kilowatts.
What we can tell you is that apart from the sluggish performance off the lights and the slightly stiff price, the Clio GT ticks all the boxes for the warm hatch club membership. It’s also a car you can give a wayward youth and know they won’t be tempted to race anyone off the lights…
RenaultSport handling, comfortable interior, slick styling
GT’s price, some of the interior plastics, needs more power
AT A GLANCE
GT 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $25,290 (automatic)
GT Premium 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $28,790 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for driveaway prices.
ABS Brakes: Standard in both models
Automatic Transmission: Standard in both models
Cruise Control: Standard in both models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in both models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in both models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in both models
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in both models
Reversing Camera: Optional in GT, standard in GT Premium
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in both models
Bluetooth: Standard in both models
SPECIFICATIONS (Renault Clio GT 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch)
Capacity: 1.197 litres
Configuration: Transverse, four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.1:1
Bore/Stroke: 72.0 mm x 73.1 mm
Maximum Power: 88 kW @ 4900 rpm
Maximum Torque: 190 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Five-speed
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: Not supplied
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4063 mm
Wheelbase: 2589 mm
Width: 1732 mm
Height: 1448 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1120 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres
Towing Ability: 580 kg (900 kg with braked trailer)
Boot Capacity: 300 litres (1146 litres with rear seats folded)
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: MacPherson struts
Rear Suspension: Torsion beam
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Drum
Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.2 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 8.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10
Five years/unlimited km