Ask any motoring expert to name the hottest of the compact hatchbacks and, for many, the Renault Clio RS would number one, unanimously in the top three. Now Renault Australia has launched the all-new Clio GT, the milder version of the ‘Wild One’.
Any new model needs a high-impact launch and Renault Australia is fortunate Daniel Ricciardo, our F1 World Championship contender, drives for the Red Bull Renault team. Check-out Daniel’s videos of the Clio GT (filmed in a hangar at Melbourne’s Avalon Airport) at www.renault.com.au
Renault is kicking goals globally at the moment – riding on the back of superb new designs from the uber-cool Laurens Van den Acker and the massive profile of its Grand Prix successes. Same in Australia where the young team has smarted-up the product lineup and supported customer confidence with an in-house finance operation plus early introductions of five-year warranties, capped price servicing and a used car program.
The proof is in the stats – Renault Australia broke through the 7,000 sales barrier to set a record in 2013 and, with the first third of 2014 in the books, is on-track to break that record again this year.
We recall those words of Renault’s Global chief Carlos Ghosn: “There’s nothing wrong with a car company which great products won’t fix.” Mr Ghosn was talking about alliance partner Nissan at the time but, there’s no doubt the influx of great new vehicles like the Clio has the French giant flying.
Renault Clio GT Overview
As we know, the all-new fourth-generation Renault Clio was launched locally around the time of the football grand finals last year. Significantly it was Mr Van den Acker’s first ‘clean-sheet’ design since assuming the title of Renault’s VP of corporate design.
We reckon it stakes a claim to being the best styling job in this league. Perhaps in a ‘dead-heat’ with the German-origin Ford Fiesta.
The all-new Renault Clio model has now been joined two handy additions- the ‘GT’ and the ‘GT Premium’. Both share the same driveline (turbocharged 1.2-litre engine and six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission).
As we’ve come to expect from Renault in recent times, the specifications are impressive. The entry-grade Clio GT includes as standard ‘RS Drive’ (normal and sport settings), satellite navigation, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs, cruise control and speed limiter and keyless push-button start.
The GT Premium adds items like heated GT sports seats in leather, R-Link entertainment system (includes upgraded navigation), a fixed glass sunroof, rear-view camera and a rear spoiler.
Renault Clio GT $25,290
Renault Clio GT Premium $28,790
Renault Clio GT Engine
While the Renault Clio RS enjoys the 147kW/240Nm turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, the GT shares the TCe 120 powerplant with the ‘Expression’ and ‘Dynamique’ models.
That’s a 1.2-litre, four-cylinder with direct injection and turbocharging to deliver 88kW of power and peak torque of 190Nm (90 per-cent of which is available from as low as 1500rpm).
Drive is to the front wheels via dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission sourced from German specialist Getrag and with steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes.
Renault Clio GT The Interior
Inside, the GT adds to the already excellent Renault Clio interior with unique dark grey trim highlights, sports seats with GT embroidery on the headrests (bolstered and leather-trimmed in GT Premium), a nice leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and dark metal steering wheel paddle shifters.
With seat height adjustment and rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel, the driving position is excellent and we’re very keen on the Clio’s instrumentation (a cool design). Audio systems include front speakers with the ‘Renault Bass System’ which are said to deliver the same punch as a 30-litre home system’s speakers.
The range-topping Renault Clio GT Premium adds the R-Link system with a seven-inch touchscreen including the reversing camera and engine ‘sound effects’ – a clever system which offers a choice of engine sounds (our favourite is the V6) matched to the throttle so it’s super-realistic.
Rear seat accommodation is on par with others in this league and the seat split-folds 60:40 for cargo versatility.
Overall the Renault Clio delivers a quality look and feel which is lacking in some rivals.
Renault Clio GT Exterior & Styling
There’s no doubt the latest Renault Clio presents one of the best looks in the compact hatchback lineup. Mr Van den Acker and his team have delivered a hip style which stands-out and exudes a purposeful on-road stance (45mm lower ride height than the third-generation model). Clever flush-fitting rear door handles give the appearance of a three-door but in fact the Clio is a five-door (Renault says sales of three-door compact hatchbacks are declining rapidly).
The steeply-raked windscreen, lots of curves and a very muscly rear-end with standout tail-lights are just some of the highlights.
GT scores unique front and rear bumpers, LED DRLs and body-colour side mouldings with grey highlights which are matched by grey exterior mirrors.
Wheels are 17-inch alloys with Michelin tyres.
Renault Clio GT On The Road
While not the ‘full-on’ RS set-up, the Renault Clio GT does run on an exclusive chassis with springs which are five per-cent stiffer than the regular Clio. Dampers are significantly stiffer (50 per-cent at the front and 40 per-cent at the rear).
Over a full day on wet roads north-east and north-west of Melbourne we drove both Renault Clio GT models and we must say the ride is much more compliant than the race car harshness of the Clio RS. Not that performance drivers should dismiss the GT – this thing is still enormous fun to hustle along but your partner won’t be so…perturbed?...every time you hit a bump.
If Daniel Ricciardo gives the Renault Clio RS a score of 10-out-10, he’d probably score the GT a solid eight…if you get our drift.
Turn-in is still crisp, there’s lots of grip from those Michelin tyres and that clever spring/damper calibration provides a balance which is sporty without being jarring.
Renault Clio GT Issues
We’ll only deduct points for the reversing camera being on the options list for the Renault Clio GT. Given their inexpensive price tag, reversing cameras should be standard fit in all cars these days.
Renault Clio GT Verdict
Regular CarShowroom.com.au readers will know we’re massive fans of the Renault Clio RS – we’d happily have the 147kW/240Nm pocket rocket in our garage permanently. But we’ll admit its awesome power and race car style firm suspension might be too wild for some (you need to be a competent enthusiast driver to appreciate it)…so we ‘get’ the Clio GT.
You’ll be impressed by how good it looks in the metal and Renault has done a brilliant job with suspension calibration to make the Clio GT both sporty and compliant. Much as we love the RS, there’s no doubt that for many the Renault Clio GT will be an easier ‘every day’ car.
Renault is one of the hottest automotive brands these days, so buy a Clio GT in the exclusive ‘Malta Blue’ paint, go on-line to buy a Red Bull Renault F1 jacket to support Daniel Ricciardo’s tilt at the F1 World Championship and enjoy being part of the team.
Renault Clio GT The Competition
Also from France, Citroen’s DS3 is a little pricier at $26,990 (DStyle) and $29,990 (DSport). The naturally aspirated DStyle is a tad ‘out-torqued’ too with 160Nm to 190Nm for the Renault Clio GT (115kW/240Nm turbocharged 1.6-litre for the DSport). The DStyle’s four-speed automatic transmission is a bit low-tech compared to the sequential six-speeder for the Clio GT but the Citroen certainly delivers a head-turning exterior look.
Ford Fiesta Sport with the 92kW/170Nm turbocharged three-cylinder engine (92kW/170Nm) is priced at $20,525 (five-speed manual) and $22,525 (sequential six-speed auto). Not as sporty as the Renault Clio GT, the German-origin Fiesta still looks the part inside and out. Of course the $25,990 Fiesta ST is a cracker, but with only three doors and a six-speed manual transmission isn’t a direct competitor for the Renault Clio GT.
Holden Barina RS packs a punch with 103kW/200Nm from its turbocharged 1.4-litre engine and at $20,990 (six-speed manual) and $23,190 (six-speed automatic) is a good buy. Not as refined or dynamic to drive as the Renault Clio GT.
Peugeot 208 Allure Sport is priced at $26,490 and delivers 115kW/240Nm from its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine. Not as sporty as the Renault Clio GT and only a six-speed manual are negatives.
Suzuki Swift Sport was the king of the ‘warm’ hatches until the Europeans muscled-in and, at $23,990 (six-speed manual) or $25,990 (CVT auto), the Swift is still a good buy. 86kW/156Nm from Suzuki’s atmo 1.6-litre engine is a bit light-on in this league and the CVT auto is a bit odd for a hottie.