Renault’s all-new Clio leaves no doubt the German’s don’t have exclusivity when it comes to classy European compact hatchbacks. Gloriously styled, massively equipped, nice to drive and fuel-efficient, the Renault Clio is also outstanding value - priced from $16,790 - and shatters the perception European cars are expensive to run and maintain with a class-leading support program ranging from insurance to capped-price servicing and reduced prices for replacement parts.
In fact the Clio moves Renault beyond competition against rival Europeans and into the realm of cars like the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris.
So it’s “regardé” (French for “watch out”) other compacts - you now have the number one best-selling car in France to content with…it’s the all-new Renault Clio and its very, very good.
Better still, the sporty RS Clio is on the way to Australia as well.
Renault Clio Overview
Renault Australia has launched the all-new Clio with a choice of two engines, six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions and three model grades – all in five-door configuration.
In a terrific first for the compact hatchback segment the Renault Clio can be individualized via factory fitted decoration for the grille, rear hatch and curved side protective molding trims, roof graphics and colour highlights inside (steering wheel, door panels, gear-lever surround and air vents).
The full lineup is:
Authentique TCe 90 (manual)$16,790
Expression TCe 90 (manual)$17,790
Expression TCe 120 (automatic)$19,790
Dynamique TCe 120 (automatic)$23,290
Renault Clio Engine
Renault Clio arrives ‘Downunder’ with a choice of two engines and proves that old adage “good things come in small packages”. After our day behind wheel, we found both engines were tremendous – real surprise packages.
In Europe, Clio is available with diesel propulsion (naturally) but with sales of diesel-powered small compacts in Australia less than two per-cent of the market, Renault Australia has sensibly decided to launch with an all-petrol lineup.
The TCe 90 is Renault’s historic first three-cylinder engine – developed by the same engineers who were responsible for the French marque’s V10 F1 racing engines. Only 0.898-litres in capacity, the turbocharged three-cylinder outpunches Volkswagen’s 1.4-litre Polo Trendline.
Maximum power is 66kW at 5250rpm and peak torque of 135Nm arrives at 2500rpm. And with combined cycle fuel consumption of 4.5l/100kms, the Renault Clio TCe 90 not only sees-off the smaller, three-cylinder Volkswagen Up (4.9l/100kms), it nearly matches Toyota’s hybrid Prius V (4.4l/100kms).
Of course there’s lots of technology behind that fuel consumption story, including ‘active’ front air-vents (ahead of the radiator) which open only when needed and auto start/stop.
The TCe 120 is a 1.2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. Maximum power is 88kW at 4900rpm and peak torque of 190Nm is delivered at 2000rpm. Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 5.2l/100kms.
Renault Clio The Interior
All-new Clio is the first clean-sheet Renault vehicle from new chief designer Laurens van den Acker. Inside, the look is distinctive and up-market, highlighted by bold colours, classy materials, a dashboard shaped like an airplane wing and centre-dashboard tablet-like multi-media system with a massive 18cm touchscreen which has a home page which can be personalized.
Likewise the colour components (air vents, gear lever surround and steering wheel) which can also be individualized give the Renault Clio a hip, young feel.
Same for the infotainment systems – MEDIA NAV and R-Link both debut in Australia. We loved the clever R-LINK system’s ‘R-Sound Effect’ which matches a selection of engine noises (ranging from an electric spaceship to a V6 race-car) to your engine so it sounds like you’re driving a completely different vehicle – brilliant! There are also the intriguing-looking Renault Bass Reflex system speakers which are said to provide sound equivalent to a 30-litre home speaker.
Height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel and height adjustment for the drivers’ seat provided an optimal driving position and we loved the stylish design for the instrument cluster – French style is everywhere in the Renault Clio.
We didn’t have our micrometer but we suspect rear seat legroom in the all-new Renault Clio is the best in this segment (if not it’s very close) and luggage space is up by 12-litres over the previous generation to 300-litres (rear seat in-place).
Renault Clio Exterior & Styling
At 4062mm in length, 1732mm wide and affording a 2589mm wheelbase, the all-new Clio can be traced back to the 2010 DeZir concept car. This is most obvious in the new Renault brand grille with a large Renault logo set upright against a gloss black background – a feature headed to other new models.
Designer van den Acker went for a more athletic look than the previous generation – lowered ride height (by 45mm), wider the track, steeply raked windscreen and large wheels (16-inch or 17-inch) pushed 15mm outwards to fill the arches and an improved glass/body ratio (one-thirds, two-thirds). A sharply sloping roofline and concealed rear door handles lend a coupe-like look to the silhouette which is highlighted by the deeply scalloped doors.
The front is highlighted by striking chrome detailed headlights and separate low-mounted LED DRLs. At the rear, thick C-pillars and high-mounted tail-lights combine to give the all-new Clio a substantial appearance.
Renault Clio On The Road
Renault Clio uses the Nissan-Renault Alliance B-platform chassis (now employed in 20 different models) – fine-tuned with a wheelbase 14mm longer (2589mm) and wider track (+34-36mm). Front suspension is a Macpherson strut linked to a triangular lower wishbone with twin bushes while the rear uses a torsion beam (new polyurethane bump stops for the anti-roll bar are used to provide enhanced compliance).
Chassis stiffness has been enhanced and the steering is more direct (15.5:1 ratio instead of 16.7:1).
And the newcomer is 100kgs lighter than its predecessor.
So all the ingredients are there for an impressive on-road performance and, after trying both engines and a variety of model grades over the familiar Yarra Valley roads North of Melbourne, Car Showroom was very impressed.
Ride and handling really got our attention – nice precision and balance but not overly harsh/firm. We’re not dismissing localized suspension development programs, but Renault is one of the world’s leading automotive companies and European customers drive hard and fast so it’s no surprise the Clio, exactly as sold in Europe, handles superbly in Australia too.
The three-cylinder engine was a cracker – pulling strongly through the rev range with none of the ‘strumming’ harshness which plagues some other similar powerplants. And the 1.2-litre delivered on its claims regarding performance akin to previous 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre engines – again very impressive.
Renault Clio Challenges
Nothing much to criticize here except to say from some angles the rear of the Renault Clio isn’t its styling strong point.
Renault Clio Verdict
Renault Australia has seen the ‘pushback’ from shoppers who think European cars are expensive to own. So, aided by shared systems with Nissan Australia it addressed the price of service parts so Clio is now the lowest-priced vehicle in the segment and also adjusted the pricing of the 40 common parts needed frequently so they now total some 55 per-cent lower than Peugeot 208 and 33 per-cent lower than Volkswagen Polo – that’s significant savings right there.
Then there’s fixed-price servicing for three years. Renault uses a once-per-year service schedule and the cost for this is capped at $299 per service.
Resale value – which Renault concedes has been a stigma on its brand. That’s a thing of the past too and Glass’ Guide calculates the re-sale value of the all-new Clio in three years will be 48 per-cent (that’s very significant in a car which starts at $16,790). Hyundai i20 is 47 per-cent, Mazda2 is 46 per-cent and Peugeot 208 is 42 per-cent
Renault Financial Services can handle the dollars for you and now also includes Renault Insurance (in conjunction with Allianz).
Toss-in the usual 5-year warranty and 5 years of roadside assistance and, in the case of the Renault Clio, it seems that old chestnut about European cars being expensive to operate can be put to rest.
The actual product is terrific - definitely a Car Showroom favourite – and Renault’s behind-the-scenes attention to detail has been spot-on. The all-new Renault Clio is a ‘must-include’ on the shopping list of anyone looking at a compact hatchback.
Renault Clio The Competition
Under threat from all-comers, Mazda2 has just been updated and the +$20,000 Genki models are no more. Good-looking and powered by an excellent 76kW/135Nm 1.5-litre engine, the ‘2’ doesn’t match the Renault Clio for interior style or driving dynamics.
Volkswagen’s entry-level Trendline model Polo is now looking very much under-done in comparison with the Renault Clio. No question about Polo’s driving dynamics or quality but the interior is somewhat cold and staid.
Of course the other newcomer in this league also comes from France – the all-new Peugeot 208. A little pricey by comparison, the 208 oozes French style (just like the Clio in fact).