Reader: Va-va-voom in Clio 4
CURVES EVERYBODY CAN APPRICIATE: Reader ROBERT DANIELS says the new Renault Clio is a true contender in SA’s B-segment. Image: Robert Daniels
Author: ROBERT DANIELS
The Renault Clio, despite being a huge sales success for the French automaker, never really tickled my fancy.
It’s certainly been well received with 11.5-million sold but despite its great fuel economy and loads of kit compared to your average B-segment contender, it has always had a reputation for being "a girls' car".
There, I said it!
This is not an insult to the vehicle but a fact that the Clio has simply had more success among female buyers.
The fourth-generation Clio launched in SA in 2013 is without a doubt the best-looking B-segment contender and has shed its feminine styling. How amazing is that? It looks like a coupe even though it has four doors since the rear handles are hidden in the window frame.
The Clio has hips and the rear three-quarter view is particularly sexy. There is nothing feminine about the design though the model has definite sex appeal. It drew admiring glances from males and quite a few people inquired about the car in car parks and even while I was in traffic.
The rear lights look menacing and the new Clio is lower and wider than any of its predecessors. It also handles better than previous versions and finally becomes a real challenger to VW's Polo and Ford’s Fiesta in terms of dynamics. Those cars handle very well and finally the Clio joins the fray. The steering is meaty and even if the clutch is still a tad light, everything comes together rather well.
In terms of performance, things get complicated in a good way. I drove the 66kW version of the 900cc three-cylinder turbo petrol. Yes, the power is on par with vehicles in this price range, but three cylinders? The future is all about downsizing with automakers taking to forced induction. Many don’t like it, but they really need to drive one of these “new” cars (such as Ford’s Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost) to fully appreciate the idea.
Fuel consumption is rated at 5.5 litres/100km. If you drive it like a well-balanced person it will return exceptional fuel economy.
Due to its turbo, power is available below 2000rpm which means it’s actually easier to drive and that much harder to stall. I’d go as far as calling it eager and nippy even if it takes 14 seconds to reach 100km/h. It might not be fast, but it does not “feel slow” and that’s more important to the buyer.
Overdo it and those front wheels will lose traction, though it needs more power to upset the brilliant new chassis.
Four airbags and a touch-screen infotainment system is very cool but what impressed me more was the attention to detail and quality. The car is covered in chrome and piano-black highlights. I couldn't help but feel spoilt and special when driving it.
The 2013 Renault Clio is a winner and will give its competition cause for concern. Renault has sorted out its quality and service issues and its products are on par with the best B-class contenders such as Polo, Fiesta, Hyundai’s i20 and Kia Rio.
I strongly recommend you don’t overlook new Clio when shopping in the R150 000 - R180 000 price range because it deserves your consideration.