Sporting a new design, engines and creature comforts, the fourth-generation Renault Clio has arrived in SA with one goal in mind – taking on the cream of SA hatchbacks.Renault gives its new Clio, debuted at the 2012 Paris International Motor Show, a certain je ne sais quoi, with its sultry design. The new Clio is wider, lower and has a longer wheelbase than the model it replaces.Image gallery With its svelte lines, coupe-esque profile and curves, the Clio is undoubtedly a stunner, having claimed the ‘Best Production Car’ at the 2012 Paris auto show and being named a 2013 Euro Car of the Year finalist. 'AIMING FOR SA TOP FIVE'The car is launched with only one engine variant (a 900cc turbo petrol) with two states of tune (55kW and 66kW) and three trim levels – Authentique, Expression, Dynamic. Renault has set its Clio the goal of being one of the top five players in the fiercely competitive SA hatchback segment. To achieve this, the range has been priced aggressively at R149 900 for the base model (R160 000 near as dammit if you want aircon, and who doesn't?) to R179 900 for the Dynamique."Yeah yeah, where's the RS? Only one engine what about the diesel? I'm keen on buying a Duster..." all these questions and more will be answered later in this article... According to Fabien Payzan, vice-president of marketing and communications for Renault SA: We’re very ambitious with the new Clio. We want to be in the top five in 2013. Our rivals have quality products, so it won’t be easy.” The new cars have already proved a runaway success with 100 000 sold worldwide to the end of March 2013. 900cc TURBO Renault taps into its Formula 1 roots with the launch of its new three-cyclinder 900cc turbo petrol engine and five-speed manual gearbox that delivers 66kW at 5250rpm and 135Nm from 2500-5250rpm... did I mention it’s a sub-one litre? And it's the one I drove... Fuel consumption is rated at 4.5 litres/100km, emissions at 105g/100km. BUT WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? As a driver’s car, it’s magnifique . The steering is sharper and more communicative and the five-speed is slick and precise. As seen with the launch of Golf 7’s 1.2 and new Ford’s Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost, there will probably be many grumbles from readers about the tres petite three-cylinder, but I found the engine to quite competent and delivering of a throaty though short-lived snarl.While not sluggish, it does require a bit of getting used to, especially with passengers. Given its size, it’s unsurprising that the Clio struggles uphill and begs more gearshifts more often than larger units. Perhaps it's asking too much from a 0.9 to match the high-speed refinement of bigger engines.The 0.9 is pleasant surprise (compared to a 1.4 or larger) though I doubt the spirited drivers the Clio is aimed at will be able to achieve the claimed fuel consumption of 4.5 litres/100km. The car reaches 0-100km in 12 seconds and handles undulations with aplomb though at high speed feels too soft - bouncing over bumps instead of the properly absorbing them. Overall, despite it stumbling when faced with a steep incline, it's a great performer for its price. INSIDEThe cabin is a big step up from the outgoing model which I always felt was unimaginative. Much like the exterior, the assertiveness continues inside, which might not be to all buyers’ taste. The centre stack is now dominated by a touch-screen LCD on the higher trim levels. It looks very much like it was designed based on an iPad, though with intuitive controls and host of features, who's to complain?Gloss black finishes and soft materials line the interior with a premium feel. I’m glad Renault has ditched the plain black-and-grey plastics - the cabin really is visually appealing. Standard across all models are anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, hill-start assistance, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB and AUX ports. The Expression adds the automaker's new 18cm touchscreen multimedia system which incorporates satnav, Bluetooth, USB and audio streaming. It rides on 16” alloys and comes with front fog lights and leather on the steering-wheel and gear shifter. As the flagship of the new Clio range, the Dynamique adds hands-free keycard, auto rain and light sensors and power windows. The model is fitted with 17” alloys as well as black and chromed interior/exterior detailing. Optional extras include a fixed sunroof, auto climate control and rear parking sensors.My pick of the bunch would be the 66kW Expression for R169 900. I could do without the chromed detailing, saving R10 000, though I might be persuaded to add rear parking radar for R2000.The pricing for the new model’s is certainly aggressive but how long will they be able to remain at its current level? Fabian answers: “It’s not so easy to come out with these prices. How long will they last? Despite the rand’s weakening state we hope not to move our prices in 2013.” MORE FROM RENAULT There's a Clio 1.5 DCi oil-burner in Europe, but no plans to bring it to SA for now - there will be a “reconsider in 2014”. A new 1.2 petrol will probably make its debut at the 2013 Johannesburg auto show in October. The Clio RS 200 will arrive in South Africa later in 2013 but has ditched the two-litre engine in favour of a turbo 1.6 petrol capable of 147kW/234Nm and driving through a six-speed dual-clutch auto with paddle shifts. The “downsizing” pays off in economy as the model claims to use two litres less fuel for every 100km for a combined figure of 6.2/100km. Curiously, the boot was missing a spare wheel. When I asked about this a Renault staffer assured me that a spare wheel will be fitted to the bottom of the car (under the boot) across the range. Renault will also launch its Duster later in 2013. OVERALL The Clio is no longer a bland car. The 2013 model has great styling, a sprightly engine, impeccable road manners and plenty of tech features. It presents customers with a complete package for a vehicle that should cost more than R200 000 and squares up to Ford’s Fiesta, VW's Polo and the Korean offerings of Hyundai’s i20 and Kia’s Rio.The i20 is a bit long in the tooth and although the new Rio is certainly a good-looking car, the Clio has the va-va-voom to claim the best-looking car in its class. The new Clio will definitely make you think twice about buying a Polo or Fiesta. FROM THE WHEELS24 TEAM:Wheels24 editor Les Stephenson: The new Clio squares up to an i20? The i20 has a 1250cc engine and six-speed box?Sergio Davids: Yes but the i20 produces 64kW and doesn't look as good...Les: Manual aircon: R10 000 (Authentique). There's a version WITHOUT aircon? That's why it's so cheap, perhaps?Sergio: No aircon on the Authentique, it’s an extra R10 000. Suppose it's better to look good despite baking in the heat.Les: That makes it nearly R160 000!Sergio: Hmm… at R159 900 it's still worth it though in comparison to a Kia Rio or i20Les: … the i20 has aircon.Sergio: I'm inclined to agree. Even if you add air-con it's still a tough decision to buy it. The R169k model is well worth it though, no other car except maybe the 208, has an equivalent display inside.Les: Your story, let's leave it to the readers... Video: Sexy Clio test drive Watch as unsuspecting guys take the new Renault Clio out for a test drive with extra va-va-voom! PRICESClio 4 55kW Authentique - R149 900Clio 4 66kW Turbo Expression - R169 900Clio 4 66kW Turbo Dynamique - R179 900 OPTIONS Manual aircon: R10 000 (Authentique)Fixed glass roof: R 8000 (Expression& Dynamique)Climate control: R5000 (Dynamique)Rear park assist: R2000 (Dynamique)Metallic paint: R2500 The new Clio comes with a five-year/ or 150 000km warranty, a three-year or 45 000km service plan and a six-year anti-rust through warranty.