By Bob Flavin 05/12/12
The humble Clio has been with us for rather a long time but it has become the home of many a learner driver along with being the second car choice for many families. Some of that came from the value for money, safety and the decent fuel economy. When Renault decided to change the Clio they had to be aware of these factors before they could touch it.
They seem to have gotten it bang on; the new Clio is all grown up but still keeps the sense of fun. Renault had lost the fun from the Clio with the mark 3, it had gotten bigger and a bit blander that’s why in 2009 Renault hired Laurens van den Acker as the Chief Designer, the idea was to bring back that Renault fun. The extremely beautiful DeZir concept car came out in 2010 which led directly to the Clio 4.
While the underpinnings haven’t changed, mainly because they are great, the new Clio is lower, wider and has a longer wheelbase. Despite all this, it looks smaller from the outside than the previous model. It’s lighter too, somehow Renault has shaved off 100kg from the overall weight, and still the materials used in the cabin are top notch.
There are also new engines, the 0.9ltr turbo petrol engine is a gem, it’s not only massively fuel efficient but it sounds great when you push it too. Another turbo 1.2ltr 4 cylinder six speed dual clutch version will be released in 2013. With the 1.5dci which is a reliable as a grandfather clock will head up the diesel offering.
When you see the Clio you’ll notice that it looks fresh and modern, there’s that family history so you know you’re looking at a Renault but it stands apart from everything else on the road. The huge logo on the front might seem over the top at first but give it a chance and you’ll see it fits in to the overall design.
On the road things are very good indeed, the little 0.9ltr engine roars along making all sorts of noises as you shuffle though the gears. Even at low speed the Clio is stable and really well sorted, it loves the twisty stuff though; the more twisty the road the better the car responds. Still the car is very mature and grown up, it hums along when you reach a motorway and if you take it easy you’ll soon find sub 4.0ltrs per 100kms from the little petrol engine. From fuel economy that’s as good and in some cases better than some diesels, petrol engines are back!
The Clio goes on sale in Ireland in 2013 but you might find there’s a few in the dealers available to see and maybe drive. The competition in the Clio segment is fierce, it always has been but now Renault are right up there with a fighting chance of selling a good number in 2013 because the little Clio is a great car.