French flair combines excellent dynamics to make Renault’s latest Clio stand out.

French flair combines excellent dynamics to make Renault’s latest Clio stand out

Fresh from its victory as ‘best light car’ in the annual Australia’s Best Car Awards for 2013, Renault’s new Clio continues the advance of the French company’s rebirth downunder.

The Renault Clio is now in its fourth generation and is offered in three specification levels in Australia; Clio Authentique, Expression and Dynamique. The Authentique starts at $16,790, the Dynamique tops out the range at a still reasonable $23,290.

Styled by Laurens van den Acker new Clio doesn’t follow the current mainstream shape that’s become somewhat passé thanks to its adoption by too many marques. Rather, Clio has a slim grille that expands in its centre section to frame the Renault diamond-shaped emblem.

The doors are deeply sculpted in their lower areas and the side profile of this five-door has the look of a three-door coupe thanks to concealed handles at the rear. Clio’s rear end flares in slightly at the side to give a muscular look.


Inside, there’s a strong design of the centre screen area separating it from the instrument panel.

There’s a big focus on customisation in new Renault Clio, with numerous colours, trims, accessories and dress up items. Potential buyers of Minis and Fiat 500s now have another Euro machine to add to their short list of cars that can make a personal statement.

Car companies often offer prices on the standard vehicles and make their profits by selling up on accessories. Renault prices aren’t as inflated as we see on some marques.

Two entertainment systems, tagged as Media Nav and R-Link, are on offer. The style is dictated by the model and options chosen. Both use an 18-cm touchscreen tablet-style display and provide satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity for phones and audio streaming. There are USB and 3.5mm connectors.

Renault_Clio_4A clever feature is a new design of speakers in the front doors, called Bass Reflex technology, that give far better low-end notes than you would expect from their diminutive dimensions.

Two turbocharged petrol engines are offered, one a three-cylinder 900cc unit producing up to 66 kilowatts of power and 135 Nm of torque. The other is a four-cylinder that’s virtually the three-cylinder with an extra pot attached to give it a capacity of 1.2 litres. It’s peak outputs are 88 kW and 190 Nm.

The three-cylinder engine comes only with a five-speed manual gearbox, the four-cylinder has a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual.

Renault has long been one of the leaders in safety and the Clio has active safety equipment such as ESC, ASR, and Brake Assist. Clever engineering mean the Clio’s body is 100 kg lighter than that of the outgoing model, yet European NCAP crash testing saw it pick up the maximum of five stars with ease.

The small 900cc engine is responsive and willing, though it struggled at times on steep hills with a load on board. Its five-speed manual was easy to use and the ratios work nicely in most conditions meaning that someone who is willing to put the proper effort into selecting the correct gear for the conditions can really get the best from the economical little engine.

Renault_Clio_3On level running in the country and on motorways there was no trouble keeping in the five to six litres per hundred kilometres range. Around town this went up to six to eight litres per hundred, still excellent numbers for a car in this class.

It comes as no surprise that the little Renault Clio has supple suspension that provides good comfort and nimble handling. It’s not a sports hatch but will meet the needs of the keen driver looking for a moderately-priced machine with plenty of styling flair. Road noise is generally well isolated, even on notorious coarse-chip Australian road surfaces.

You get lots of French flair in the standard Renault Clio – and much more flair when you step up and personalise it to your individual needs. That, and the low starting price, not to mention the major ABC award just handed out by Australia’s motoring clubs, means the Clio seems sure of success downunder.


Authentique 0.9-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $16,790 (manual)
Expression 0.9-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $17,790 (manual)
Expression 1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $19,790 (automatic)
Dynamique1.2-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch: $23,290 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for driveaway prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: Optional in all models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in Dynamique, not offered in Authentique and Expression
Reversing Camera: Optional in Dynamique, not offered in Authentique and Expression
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models

SPECIFICATIONS (Renault Clio Authentique 0.9-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch)

Capacity: 0.898 litres
Configuration: Transverse, three cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Bore/Stroke: 72.2 mm x 73.1 mm
Maximum Power: 66 kW @ 5250 rpm
Maximum Torque: 135 Nm @ 2500 rpm

Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Five-speed
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: Not supplied

Length: 4063 mm
Wheelbase: 2589 mm
Width: 1732 mm
Height: 1448 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1019 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)

Front Suspension: MacPherson struts
Rear Suspension: Torsion beam
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Drum

Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.5 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 8.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

Five years/unlimited km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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