Renault's sporty new Clio will seriously test its rivals
Renault officially unveiled its new Clio yesterday -- the fourth generation of the car, first produced in 1990, which to date has sold 12 million units in 115 nations.
Shown for the first time at the Paris Motor Show last week, it is slightly larger and wider and a little lower than Clio 3, a plunging roofline capping the new car's more muscular and dynamic appearance.
The Clio has never sold fewer than 300,000 globally a year and now, in its new more sporty guise, it's likely, in an extremely competitive segment, to provide equally formidable competition for its main rivals such as the Peugeot 208, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo and Corsa.
It's the first new Renault -- a Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo and an estate or tourer version are also expected to form part of the new line-up later -- to feature the company's new design identity.
There are three new engines, a 1.2, 4-cylinder 16-valve 75 bhp 5spd manual petrol (127g/km); a 0.9-litre Energy TCe 90 bhp, 3-cylinder 5spd manual petrol 104 (g/km), and a 1.5 Energy dCi 90 bhp, 5spd diesel.
The 0.9-litre powertrain produces CO2 emissions of just 83g/km. It's combined with EDC dual-clutch transmission which, in the downsized engines, Renault says, delivers greater driving enjoyment, energy efficiency and low fuel consumption.
The car has Stop Start technology, while it has also secured the top Euro NCAP safety rating.
Available in several vibrant colours, the new Clio will be officially unveiled on the Irish market later this month.
However, no right-hand-drive versions will be available until the New Year. In the meantime Renault is adopting the same strategy it deployed recently to arouse interest in the Dacia Duster, by installing a number of left-hand-drive Clios in dealerships until the end of the year to whet consumer appetite.
Prices are not being announced until the domestic launch on October 25.
Over a 200km test run in the hilly and twisting environs of Florence, the 1.5 Energy dCi 90 bhp, 5spd diesel performed well on motorway stretches displaying, in particular, nimble overtaking capability.
However, despite the engine size, faced with the challenges posed in the Tuscan hills by an endless series of hairpin bends and steep inclines, it seemed underpowered and required excessive use of the gears to sustain momentum.
It's sturdily built and well finished in the cabin which can be tailored to taste but instrumentation is a little too spread-eagled.
The new 5dr Clio marks the end of the line for the 3dr.