Published on Sunday 21 December 2014 04:00
Will It Suit Me?
If ever a car was aimed at women, it has to be the Renault Clio. The advertising of course has been legendary. Unless you've been living in a cave for the last couple of decades, you can't have avoided Nicole & Co, the 'Size Matters' campaign, billboard ads suggesting that we've all "lost our 'va va voom'" and more recently, the 'Britain vs France' ads. I won't air my personal views on whether size matters, but I have to agree that this little car has had a massive impact on the shape of the supermini market - past and present.
The most recent fourth generation Clio I'm looking at here certainly has a 'big car' feel - courtesy, say Renault, of a long wheelbase, which has released generous interior room. It's also got sharper looks and improved refinement. First impressions then, were good.
This improved Clio is a stylistic step forward from its predecessor, but it's still recognisable as a Clio. The front end design features a prominent Renault logo, set bold and upright to a gloss black background. The sporty silhouette is achieved by integrated rear door handles concealed close to the rear quarter lights and cleverly disguised shutlines. With a lower ride height, wider tracks, wheels pushed out wide within the arches, and a reduction in the gap between the wheels and wheel arches, the Clio looks hunkered down and purposeful. What would Nicole and Papa have made of all this?
I found the interior to be an even bigger step onwards from iteration three of the Clio. That car ushered in a bigger, more spacious cabin and the fourth generation model builds on that with massively improved perceived quality. The dashboard is sculpted in the shape of an aircraft wing, with a multimedia system on the centre console, a wide range of colour options, a digital speedometer, striking seats and chrome and gloss-black trim highlights.
Behind the Wheel
This Renault's still got a bit of 'Va va voom' to it. Such were my impressions of the Energy TCe 90 petrol variant which will probably be the big seller. The first three-cylinder powerplant ever produced by Renault, this three-cylinder, turbocharged 899cc unit comes with Stop&Start and is designed to deliver the performance of a normally-aspirated 1.4-litre unit. An ultra low-inertia turbo whistles into action from low engine speeds, developing 90PS and decent pulling power at low revs.
There's also an Energy TCe 120 TCe unit mated to six-speed EDC transmission (Efficient Dual Clutch). This four-cylinder 1.2-litre engine gets direct fuel injection and turbocharging, contributing to a peak power of 120PS and a healthy 190Nm of torque from 1,750rpm. Diesel buyers get an Energy dCi 90 1.5-litre engine with a bit more pulling power than it had in the previous generation model.
Value For Money
Pricing is par for the course in the supermini segment against rivals like Ford's Fiesta, Peugeot's 208 and Vauxhall's Corsa. Expect to pay somewhere in the £12,000 to £16,000 bracket for most models.
Whatever your choice from this Clio line-up, you'll find that you have some very interesting personalisation choices with this fourth generation model. Buyers will be able to personalise the outside of their car with a selection of colour touches to the front grille, rear and side door inserts. To personalise the interior, the menu covers the dashboard, door panels, steering wheel, grab handles, gear lever and air vent surrounds, upholstery materials and optional floor mats.
Renault has made a firm commitment to driving down the cost of motoring and the Clio demonstrates some impressive economy and emissions figures. The economy version of the Energy TCe 90 petrol engine can squeeze 65.7 miles from a litre of unleaded and emissions are mooted to be below 100g/km. That's a 21 per cent improvement in miles per gallon compared to the old TCe 100 powerplant.
Go diesel and the eco2 model with the Energy dCi 90 energy returns fuel consumption of 88 mpg, with CO2 emissions 83g/km. The Clio features a number of efficiency measures including an ECO mode which allows drivers to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent by modifying the car's performance parameters at the push of a button.
A driving style monitor (green, yellow or orange) and a Gear Change Indicator (GCI) on the dashboard help drivers improve their driving style to reduce their fuel consumption. The Driving eco app available through Renault R-Link provides drivers with information, helping them to analyse their driving style and take corrective measures in order to reduce their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Being a new model, residual values are bound to stack up better than the Clio III, further driving down the overall cost of ownership.
Could I Live With One?
Why not? Maybe the va va vroom thing works after all..