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New Clio, Clio RS driven

2009-08-18 12:01
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Renault
Engine 1.6l, 16-valve; 2.0l, 16-valve
Power 83 kW @ 6 000 r/min; 147.5 kW @ 7 100 r/min
Torque 151 Nm @ 4 250 r/min; 215 Nm @ 5 400 r/min
Transmission Five-speed manual; six-speed manual
Fuel Consumption 6.6 l/100 km; 8.2 l/100 km
Airbags Dual front and side
Service Intervals 15 000km
Service Plan Three-year/45 000 km
Warranty Three-year/100 000 km warranty
Price 1.6 Dynamique - R188 000; 2.0 Renault Sport - R249 900

Sergio Davids

Clio RS

Clio RS

Now in its third generation, the updated Clio and Renault Sport version sees the French manufacturer spare no expense to present vehicles chock full of French flair and style. We managed to get behind the wheel of both the Clio 1.6 Dynamique and Clio 2.0 Renault Sport.

At first glance it seems Renault has gone for a sporty look and feel to its latest Clio. It has fantastic visual appeal with design changes now including new contoured headlamps with black surrounds and a front bumper design incorporating a broad air intake and fog lamps.

The rear of the updated Clio shows off a new rear light cluster along with a revised bumper.

The latest Clio retains the 1.6-litre 16-valve engine which delivers 83 kW at 6 000 r/min, with torque of 151 Nm peaking at 4 250 r/min. It is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, and fuel consumption is quoted as 6.6 l/100 km.

Where previously the Clio may have felt rather rigid in terms of its suspension, Renault says it has improved this by making the ride a lot softer while improving handling.

Driving the Clio is pleasurable, but you’ll have to save those boy racer dreams for the RS model.

The 1.6-litre is practical, delivers power when it’s needed and adequately hugs the road through corners. But city driving is the Clio’s forte as it is quick enough to nip through traffic while being agile enough to make short work of arduous parking tasks.

Adapting to trends

The Clio faces some tough opposition in its segment from the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2, but comes standard with all the bells and whistles you'd ever need in a small car.

Apart from alloy wheels and an audio system (with USB, aux connection and MP3 capability) for the 1.6, the manufacturer has also evolved with today's electronic needs by supplying a first-in-class integrated satnav system, courtesy of Renault’s partnership with TomTom and iPod connectivity.

Inside the cabin, you’re treated to an interior that shows off French refinement. The dashboard’s soft-touch finish is a great touch while the chrome accents show attention to detail. Along with carrying over the standard features of the outgoing model, the new Clio also gains cruise control with a speed limiter, cornering lights, climate control and a combined rain and light sensor.

Grin-inducing power

Renault has had motorsport coursing through its veins since the RS Gordini was launched in 1964. In the Clio range, the RS performance model has always been highly regarded by enthusiasts, and the latest version doesn't disappoint.

At the heart of the new Clio RS is a revised version of the 2.0l 16-valve engine used in the previous Clio RS.

Power output has increased by 2.5 kW to about 148 kW at 7 100 r/min, while torque has been boosted by 20% across a wider rev range. The 215 Nm torque peak figure is now achieved at 5 400 r/min, which is 100 r/min lower than before.

Gear ratios have been shortened on the six-speed manual transmission to produce punchier acceleration. The new RS is capable of sprinting from 0 - 100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds, while top speed has been increased by 10 km/h to a maximum of 225 km/h. Despite these performance gains, the claimed fuel consumption is marginally down by 0.7 l/100 km to 8.2 l/100 km on a combined cycle.

But it’s not until you’ve had a chance to drive both the Clio 1.6 Dynamique and the RS version, that you realise what a monster the RS truly is. The white knuckle inducing power will soon see you blast your way towards its top speed.

The handling can be described as "chuckable" as Clio RS for 2009's chassis sees improve damper settings through the use of hydraulic double-effect dampers, a new suspension layout delivering more grip, and a new anti-roll bar.

The electric power steering system has been tweaked, too and the use of an independent steering axis layout – incorporating lightweight aluminium components – is said to reduce torque steer under acceleration.

At the rear, the New Clio features a programmed deflection torsion beam that has been reinforced by 20%, while a new 30 mm anti-roll bar further contains body roll and improves precision.

Renault’s F1 influence is evident in the latest RS with the addition of a rear diffuser that creates downforce for better road handling and grip.

The recent adjustments to the Clio range show that Renault's top-selling still has a lot of life in it, with more to come. 

At present the Clio line-up comprises the five-door 1.6 Dynamique and the 2.0 Renault Sport three-door, though SA could see the introduction of an automatic version of the 1.6 Dynamique later this year. An entry-level, sporty 1.6 S five-door derivative will follow in 2010.

For now, though, all those wannabe boy racers whose bravado far exceeds their actual driving skill, Renault is offering a free advanced driving course with every RS purchased.


Clio 1.6 Dynamique - R188 000
Clio 2.0 Renault Sport - R249 900

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