Many car owners like nothing better than to stand out in a crowd and automobile makers are only too happy to lend a hand . . . at a price. The European brands are very accommodating and offer customers a major shopping list of options. Take Renault, for example.
I recently was in possession of one of the French manufacturer’s new Clios as a test car, which with add-ons was like no other vehicle I had come across.
The Oyster Grey mid-spec Clio TCe120 Dynamique, a six-speed automatic comes onto the market at the manufacturer’s recommended price of $23,790. However, with, I presume, the typical Renault buyer in mind, the car had been loaded up with special features.
For example, the paint was metallic, costing an extra $550; there was red exterior trim for $250; matching red dashboard and seat covering, $500; 17-inch Diamond Red alloy wheels, $750; and R-Link infotainment, $990, making the price as tested $26,830, plus on-roads.
I had to admit, the car did look a treat and I suspect the fan of exotic kit such as that from Renault would not blink at forking out the extra three grand-plus to get heads turning.
As mentioned, the small hatchback was a Clio Dynamique, one of four models in the range, the others being Authentique, Expression and GT.
Not only has Renault come up with a smooth, desirable design – inspired, it says by the DeZir concept car – a vehicle that symbolised love (how French) – the company offers the affordable personalisation program, mentioned above, that it claims is unprecedented in this section of the light car market.
Also first seen on the DeZir is the way the large Renault logo sits prominently on a gloss black background on the front and is made more distinctive by the headlight units, which include chrome details and LED daytime running lights.
Available only in five-door form, the new Clio has a coupe-like profile, made even more so by hidden rear door handles. A lower ride-height, which aids aerodynamics, plus pronounced shoulder lines, add to the visually distinctive appearance.
The latest Clio introduces two new in-car entertainment platforms – Renault’s Media Nav and R-Link, both using an 18 cm touchscreen display and enabling satellite navigation, radio, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free operation or music audio streaming, as well as USB and 3.5 mm connectors.
Ideal acoustics inside the car are topped off without high volume distortion (duff-duff devotees note) through the use of speakers in the front doors which feature Bass Reflex technology. We are assured this is a world first, in which an additional cone provides the equivalent volume and listening enjoyment of a 30-litre speaker.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The new Renault Clio TCe 120 engine mated to a six-speed EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) automatic gearbox is a four-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol unit.
Direct fuel injection and turbocharging result in maximum power of 88 kW at 4900 rpm and peak torque of 190 Nm at 2000rpm. Official fuel consumption of 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle and carbon dioxide emissions of 120 g/km per kilometre are claimed.
The new Clio is the first light segment car to employ active vents in front of the radiator helping to reduce fuel consumption by adjusting the flow of air through the radiator as a function of the engine’s cooling needs. Under normal running conditions in fast-flowing traffic, closure of the vents permits fuel savings. The bad news is it’s of the order of just 0.1 litres per 100 kilometres at a 130 km/h – the motorway speed limit in most European countries.
Weight saving includes a smaller fuel tank, reduced from 55 to 45 litres, which has no impact on fuel range, thanks to the economy gains.
Passive safety is taken care of with a reinforced body structure, high-efficiency frontal airbags, lateral head and thorax airbags, a pressure sensor to detect impending impacts, seat belts with (front seat) pre-tensioners and load limiters, anti-whiplash head rests, a luggage partition and anti-submarining front and rear seats.
Standard active safety systems include Electronic Stability Control, ABS anti-skid braking, Emergency Brake Assist and Hill Start Assist.
From the start, the Dynamique was lethargic, in Eco mode even more so. However, like a late afternoon gin and tonic, a top-up of 98 RON petrol was received with pleasure, and had Clio stepping out with renewed vigour.
Fuel efficiency was on the money with a figure of 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres recorded on a motorway run, 7-plus litres a regular recording in and around town.
Let’s talk about R-Link. Unique to this function is R-sound, in which the driver can alter the sound of the engine to imitate a range of present-day Renault vehicles and the supposed sound of a people mover of the future.
For some reason a MotoGP bike makes up the list. With the best will in the world, even with the windows fully wound down, allowing the wind and noise in, it was hard to imagine what it was really like to live like Mark Marquez through the Esses at Brands.
Gimmicks aside, R-Link also is connected to the car’s own electronic systems giving access to an advanced eco-driving function (Driving eco2) which analyses the driver’s behaviour and provides advice to help reduce fuel consumption.
The fourth generation of the Clio is one of Renault’s best-known and highest-selling nameplates around the world. Add affordability to the mix and it all sounds a tasty dish for the discerning buyer.
AT A GLANCE
Renault Clio 0.9 Authentique: $16,790 (manual)
Renault Clio 0.9 Expression: $18,290 (manual)
Renault Clio 1.2 Expression: $20,290 (automatic)
Renault Clio 1.2 Dynamique: $23,790 (automatic)
Renault Clio 1.2 GT: $25,290 (automatic)
Renault Clio 1.2 GT Premium: $28,790 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for drive-away prices.
Anti-lock Braking Std
Emergency Brake Assist
Electronic Brake-force Distribution
Electronic Stability Control
Hill Start Assist
Automatic dusk sensing headlights
‘See me home’ function headlights
LED daytime running lights
Front and rear fog lights
Manual height adjustable headlights
Rear parking sensors
Day and night rear view mirror
Driver, front and rear passenger seat belt warning light and tone
Anti-submarining system (Fix4sure) in front and rear
One-touch door locking
Height adjustable front seatbelts with load limiter
Height adjustable front and rear headrests
Turn indicator lights on door mirrors with highway mode
Three three-point rear seatbelts
Two rear seats with ISOFIX 3-point attachment system
Three child seat anchorage points for rear seats
Cruise control with speed limiter
Automatic engine stop / start
(1.2-litre TCe 120 4cyl turbocharged petrol engine)
Capacity: 1197 cc
Configuration: 1.2-litre in-line 4 cylinder 16-valve direct-injection turbocharged
Bore / stroke: 72.2 / 73.1
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Maximum Power: 88 kW @ 4900 rpm
Maximum Torque: 190 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Emissions: Euro 5
Drivetrain: 6-speed automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4063 mm
Width: 1732 mm
Height: 1448 mm
Wheelbase: 2589 mm
Track: 1501 mm (front); 1505 mm (rear)
Ground clearance: 159 mm
Kerb weight: 1120 kg
Gross vehicle weight 1567 kg
Seating capacity: 5
Cargo capacity: 300 litres / 1146 litres (rear seat back folded)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres
Turning circle: 10.6 m
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Suspension: Pseudo MacPherson strut (front); torsion beam axle (rear)
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front); drum (rear). ABS anti-skid brake system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Vehicle Stability Control. Traction Control. Hill Start Assist
Steering: Electric power assisted rack and pinion
Wheels / tyres: Alloy 17in x 7J / 205/45 R17
Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: 9.4 sec
Top speed: 199 km/h
Fuel type: Unleaded 95 RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 5.2 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 120 g / km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 8.0 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 6.0 / 10
Five years / unlimited kilometres