Renault have just given us our best look so far at the new Clio, soon to enter its fourth generation and to go on sale in 2013.
While the styling is new you can still see the Clio genes, despite a bevy of new creases, folds and ‘interesting’ features. Look to the front and you’ll see the new Renault nose, something that will eventually make its way to the other cars in the range while the rear gets a pair of more pronounced hips that merge into the rear lights.
The new car has a wider track and lower ride height and the wheels fit more snugly into the wheelarches to give the Clio a more muscular look, even on base models.
One big change is that the new Clio takes on a five-door only format, with hidden handles in the rear door pillar to give it the impression of a three-door model. It’s the same trick that the SEAT Leon has been pulling off for some time now.
Average weight savings of 100kg across the range should see improvements in driving dynamics and fuel efficiency, and that’s before the improved engines are considered. The entry level engine is a new turbocharged 3-cylinder 0.9-litre petrol TCe 90 unit rated at 90bhp, with big drops in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions over the TCe100 it replaces. Above that sits a four-cylinder 1.2-litre TCe 120, another turbocharged petrol engine that is connected to Renault’s new six-speed dual-clutch EDC gearbox.
The 1.5-litre dCi 90 diesel engine has also been reworked to improve economy and lower emissions. With 220Nm of torque it should provide enough pace and, although figures have not been published, it is claimed to be the most efficient engine in its class.
New Multimedia System
The latest multimedia technology makes its way into the Clio’s cabin, with a seven-inch touchscreen being the centrepiece of the new dashboard. A customisable homepage, voice commands and app store are available,as is an integrated Tom-Tom system that feeds live traffic updates on to the screen.
The audio system is also set to be impressive. The Bass Reflex system promises the volume and quality of a larger system with more bass and less distortion. USB and 3.5mm inputs will also allow it to support all the latest audio technologies, including Bluetooth for phone and media streaming.
One feature that is bound to raise eyebrows is the Renault R-Sound Effect system. This allows you to choose from six different soundtracks for the engine that are played over the cabin speakers. Want your Clio to sound like a V12 supercar? It just might be possible. Although it might also make you look a bit of a berk.
Big Changes For Renaultsport Clio
While the mainstream models receive a modest makeover, the Renaultsport Clios are about to undergo a significant transformation. For a start there’s the body – that five-door shell is going to be the only option across the entire range, including the Renaultsport Clios. The fast Clios are becoming more practical whether you like it or not.
Next up we have the engine. Renault have decided to drop the old naturally aspirated 2.0-litre that has always been a part of the Clio in favour of a turbocharged 1.6-litre.
This has clearly been done to counter the Clio 200’s poor economy and CO2 emissions but fear not, performance is likely to improve. The peaky nature of the old 2.0-litre has always been a criticism of the Clio (although some people loved its rev-happy nature) and at a time when the Clios rivals are enjoying a swell of turbo-assisted torque it was time to make the move. Expect power to stay close to the current 200bhp and torque to increase significantly.
The last change, and the one that may prove to be most contentious, is to make Renault’s new dual-clutch automatic gearbox the only choice. No snappy six-speed manual anymore. Do you hear that banging? That’s the sound of Renaultsport purists smashing their keyboards to pieces in sheer frustration.
To be fair this isn’t unique to the Clio. The Fabia vRS, Ibiza Cupra, Polo GTI and A1 TFSI all come with a seven-speed DSG as the only transmission choice. Sadly that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for keen drivers and personally I’m disappointed to hear this.
What we have to remember though is that the Renaultsport team have always been able to weave some magic into their models so I have high hopes for the Clio. If it can beat the VAG group cars at their own game by adding a touch of ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the turbo-charged, duel-clutch formula then there’s every reason to expect the Clio to remain the driver’s choice of hot hatch.
We’ll be seeing more of the revamped Clio at the Paris Motor Show, where it will be officially shown to the public for the first time.