Well, well, well, how far have we come? It seems like just yesterday when we first received the Clio locally here in SA and, back then, it was a fresh alternative. Renault has always been a strong European brand and they have done so exceptionally well on the formula 1 circuit, that it was time that they brought that technology over.
The RS to Renault is as AMG is to Mercedes Benz; it has always been the best of the best and, more often than not, the other cars get overlooked. Does everything have to be super-fast? To us maybe, but to you on the street, no… it’s about value and cost effective motoring… more bang for your buck, I’d say.
Renault has hit the nail on the head with the Clio 4 and, from first impressions, I could probably predict that this vehicle will be a key feature on the roads in the next couple of months. Brand new on this car is the engine; only 900cc in size with a 3 cylinder layout featuring VVT. Most importantly, it also features a low inertia Mitsubishi-based turbocharger with an all-aluminium based engine weighing a relatively light 95kg’s. Even the sleeves are thicker to increase overall reliability. The new engine is also fitted with a lifetime based timing chain, which means that overall cost of ownership is brought down when you reach the dreaded 100 000km mark on most vehicles. The engine also makes 90% of its torque at 1650rpm and max power of 66kw is reached at 5250rpm. Services are every 15000km with a spark plug change at 60 000km.
The new interior is a complete step up from the previous range with a digital display on a chrome-based cluster. There are lovely black inserts fitted on the steering wheel, dashboard and doors. It looks and gives the Clio a high-end type of feeling.
Each model of the Clio range has cruise control with speed limiter. The keycard key has been brought over from the previous range and is keyless on the top-of-the-range dynamique model. Hill Start Assist is also fitted on all the models.
The media center is fitted with navigation and a decent bass reflex speaker setup gives a deeper bass response which is exceptional quality for a car in this price range. USB, Bluetooth streaming, as well as hands free telephone, are all standard right from the entry level model. Navigation is not available on the cheaper model, however.
All Clio’s are fitted with ABS, ESP and Brake Assist with 2 front and 2 side airbags. 3 point ISO Fix seat anchors also feature in the vehicle. It’s safe to say (with no pun intended) that this Clio has achieved a 5 star NCAP rating and also achieved best in class safety at the euroNcap in 2012.
How does it drive? Surprisingly well. Actually, far more responsive than I originally anticipated. Let’s be serious here, how exciting can a 900cc 3 cylinder engine really be? The light clutch and the silky smooth gearbox make driving in the city a breeze. The engine, which is very smooth for an inline 3, had a little bit of a slow revving feel, but I guess that could be due to the altitude. Performance was rather impressive with 13seconds 0-100kph sprints. The biggest surprise to me was the fuel consumption. The tank just refused to drop the needle, even after 130km of hard and enthusiastic driving.
I eventually reset the fuel economy figures and drove it like the average Joe would. Only half city and highway stint back from Pretoria to the airport, I was rather impressed to see the computer standing on only 5.3l/100km. Bear in mind that I was driving between 120-130kph on the highway.
The Clio 4 is a breath of fresh air to the Renault brand and I think it is going to be a strong seller. Given the starting price point of R149 900 for the entry level model and R179 900 for the top of the range Dynamique model, it’s not going to be long before the roads are infested with Clio 4’s!