Four weeks in four Renault Clios have confirmed this French compact hatchback is a Car Showroom Favourite. Dollar-for-dollar and specification-for-specification, the nicely-styled Renault Clio more than holds its own against any other European compact hatch.
Renault Clio Overview
The all-new Renault Clio range debuted late last year but for four weeks the Car Showroom garage was graced by four later arrivals - the GT, GT Premium and RS200 Sport and Sport Cup Trophy. The Renault Clio range kicks-off at $16,790 for the ‘Authentique’ model powered by the astonishingly good 0.9-litre, three-cylinder engine.
Our test cars were the Renault Clio GT ($25,290), GT Premium ($28,790) and the racy RS200 Sport ($28,790) and Sport Cup Trophy ($36,790).
GT Premium adds extras such as leather seats, upgraded audio with satellite navigation, sunroof, and rear spoiler.
The RS200 goes further with items like the electronic differential lock and three-mode RS Drive with variable throttle mapping. Amongst its extras the Renault Clio Sport Cup Trophy adds the upgraded audio with satellite navigation, 18-inch alloy wheels and R-Link plus leather seats.
Renault Clio Engine
Renault Clio RS200 features Renault’s turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. Maximum power is 147kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 240Nm arrives from 1750rpm.
Development of the engine was the work of Renault’s competition division – Renault Sport Technologies. Tuning of the air-inlet, turbocharger, distributor plus revised throttle mapping focused on increased torque at lower revs for optimized through-the-gears response as well as greater reach at the top of the rev band – as can be seen from that maximum torque at 1750rpm, this engine is responsive and not all ‘peaky’ (as some small capacity turbo engines can be).
Driving the front wheels via the excellent Getrag twin-clutch six-speed automatic transmission, the Renault Clio RS200 accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds (that’s faster than the Volkswagen Polo GTI). Combined-cycle fuel consumption is rated at 6.3l/100kms.
For the Renault Clio GT we have the turbocharged 1.2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine which is good for 88kW at 4900rpm and peak torque of 190Nm at 2000rpm and driving through the six-speed twin-clutch auto. This is the same engine fitted to other Clio TCe120 models.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption scores 5.2l/100kms which Renault claims is better than most rivals (5.5l/100kms for the Volkswagen Polo 77TSI for example).
Renault Clio The Interior
Without doubt the all-new Renault Clio stakes a serious claim for the honour of the best interior in this class. Ubiquitous French style is there to see in the design and material choices and all four cars we drove impressed with their comfort and user-friendliness – regardless of whether you were sitting in the front or the rear.
The RS200 Sport versions stand-out with its sports front seats, RS grey-colour instrumentation, alloy pedals, red seat belts and Renault Sport badges. A thick sports steering wheel and steering wheel paddle-shifters are also part of the RS package.
GT too adds sports front seats, the steering wheel paddle shifters, leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and grey trim highlights.
Instruments are housed in recessed binnacles which are nicely shaped, the graphics are modern and colourful and everything is easy to read. On the audio front, the front doors feature Renault’s Bass reflex speakers which are said to provide powerful bass frequencies equivalent to a 30-litre home speaker.
All offered great driving positions (rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel and height adjustment for the seat) while those in the rear were well catered for –like other similar vehicles, rear seat legroom isn’t massive. The rear seat split-folds 60:40 for load versatility and the boot capacity is 300-litres with the rear seat in-place or 1146-litres when folded flat.
Renault Clio Exterior & Styling
Renault says the Clio’s looks were inspired by the funky ‘DeZir’ concept car from a few years back. This is the first model to be crafted from the ground-up by chief stylist Laurens van den Acker and – straight from the ‘DeZir’ comes a bold new look at the front featuring the new Renault ‘brand identity’ in the form of a larger, bolder Renault badge with a gloss black background.
Exclusively a five-door model, that new front-end on the Renault Clio certainly gets heads turning – accentuated via chrome details for the headlights and distinctive LED DRLs.
However the Renault Clio does disguise its five-door design with a sweeping coupe-like roof, rising side glass line and hidden handles for the rear doors. Combine that sporty body shape with a ride height 45mm lower and wider front and rear tracks and the Renault Clio looks a whole lot more dynamic than its predecessor.
In our GT and RS200 models, 17-inch alloy wheels naturally contributed to that purposeful on-road presence.
The RS200 muscles-up with specific bumpers and side sills, a rear diffuser, rectangular exhaust pipes and rear lip spoiler while the GT scores a unique front bumper and satin-grey highlights for the side protective moldings.
Renault Clio On The Road
As we wrote when we drove the Renault Clio GT at the Australian media preview – this is the car for those who like a little extra pizzaz but perhaps not the full-on sportiness of the RS grade. It’s a smart move by Renault to equip a Clio with the 88kW/190Nm TCe 120 engine with just a dash of sportiness – because that’s precisely what many in this segment demand.
So, equipped with some extra rubber courtesy of those 17-inch alloy wheels, our GT and GT Premium Clios gave a good account of themselves over our high speed mountain roads test loop. As you know, we reckon Renault’s chassis engineers have cracked the combination of sporty dynamics with comfortable ride better than the German brands and this is a car both male and female drivers will enjoy.
There’s nice response from the turbocharged 1.8-litre engine and the Getrag twin-clutch automatic is one of our favourites. Thumbs-up too for refinement – the combination of that supple suspension calibration and good sound deadening making the Clio GT and GT Premium very pleasant places to be.
Sure the RS models raise the pulse rate with the extra grunt of turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, shaper chassis and RS Drive system. Under hard acceleration the Renault Clio RS announces its intentions with a racy bellow from the exhaust.
They were quick over the mountains too with confidence –inspiring response on turn-in and impressive mid-turn balance.
Renault Clio Issues
The Dunlop tyres on the Cup Trophy’s 18-inch wheels afforded mega grip but were a bit noisy on coarse-chip roads.
Renault Clio Verdict
Renault Clio gets our nomination as the best of the compact hatchbacks. We say that considering the depth of the range to include the GT and RS200 models tested this time around.
Styling is a personal thing but for our eyes, the Renault Clio wins in the looks department inside and out. And the interior delivers a feel which is definitely more upscale that rivals.
For enthusiast drivers the RS model Renault Clios will bring a smile every time you climb inside and hit the starter button. Those who opt for the Renault Clio GT will save some coin and of course miss the extra grunt of the 1.6-litre engine but still get a top-notch European compact hatchback with a dose of sportiness.
Renault Clio The Competition
Ford Fiesta is the other Car Showroom Favourite European compact hatchback and the potent ST model is good value at $25,990. A creation of Ford Germany, the Fiesta delivers 134kW/240Nm from it turbocharged 1.6-litre engine but is only sold with a six-speed manual transmission.
Peugeot 208 GTi must be on your shopping list – if nothing else for the punch from its 147kW/275Nm turbocharged 1.6-litre engine. Priced at $29,990, the Peugeot 208 GTi too is only offered with a six-speed manual transmission.
Volkswagen Polo only offers the GTI model as its sporty variant. Priced at $29,540, Polo delivers the twin-charged 1.4-litre (132kW/250Nm) and all of the acknowledged Volkswagen attributes. Ride is noticeably firmer than the Renault Clio, even is RS200 guise.