2014 RENAULT CLIO REVIEW
What’s Hot: Handles well, looks cooler than the base Clio.
What’s Not: Not as fast as an RS, not as comfortable as a regular Clio.
X-FACTOR: Sporty looks without the RS 200’s pricetag.
Vehicle Style: 5-door light hatchback
Engine/trans: 88kW/190Nm 1.2 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp dual-clutch auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.2 l/100km | tested: 6.9 l/100km
The new model arrives with one mission: appealing to those who want a little more sportiness from their Clio, but don’t need the extra performance of the RS200.
The recipe is simple. Sportier exterior styling, a few GT-specific interior details and a slightly tweaked suspension that sacrifices a small amount of comfort for a more planted feel.
Is the French automaker right? We took the base Clio GT (an up-spec Clio GT Premium is also available for $28,790) for a spin to find out.
- Sat nav, climate control, cruise control, trip computer, power windows front and rear, Bluetooth phone and audio integration
- Alloy pedals, sports leather steering wheel, paddle shiftersClio GT-specific front seats with cloth upholstery and ‘GT’ embroidery on headrest
- Luggage space: 300 litres, seats up. 1146 litres, seats down.
The Clio GT’s interior ticks many boxes for us.
The more heavily bolstered front seats offer much more support than the standard Clio items, and the metal shift paddles, alloy pedals and chequered cloth upholstery add an appropriately sporty aura to the GT’s cabin.
The satin grey trim and black/grey cabin plastics also look great, and the GT’s chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel - the same as that used in the RS200 - is much more pleasant to hold than that of the standard Clio.
Equipment levels are healthy, and largely mirror what’s available in the Clio Dynamique.
Climate control air conditioning, power windows front and rear, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, a speed limiter, sat nav and Bluetooth phone and audio integration are the standout features, although the base GT misses out on the Dynamique’s front foglamps, fold down driver’s armrest and seatback pockets.
A glaring exclusion from the spec list is a reversing camera. Though the GT Premium gets one as standard, the GT in base form does without a rear camera.
Considering the Clio’s poor over-shoulder vision and tiny rear window, that’s definitely a demerit.
ON THE ROAD
- 88kW/190Nm 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol inline four
- Twin-clutch EDC automatic as standard
- RS Drive mode selector (Normal and Sport modes, no switchable stability control)
- Renault Sport tuned suspension, MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear.
- Disc brakes at front, drums at rear
Under the bonnet lies the same 1.2 litre turbo petrol four that powers the Clio Dynamique, and at 88kW and 190Nm it’s no powerhouse. Just look at the GT’s 9.4 second 0-100km/h sprint time for evidence.
It’s also got the same problems that dog every other Clio fitted with Renault’s EDC dual-clutch transmission: poor low-speed gearbox refinement, which can be frustratingly jerky when crawling through heavy traffic.
You can also use the long metal paddles to manually change gear, but it can be slow to shift. It's no match for the lightning-fast response of VW’s DSG autos, even with the RS Drive selector set to the sharper Sport mode.
But get out on the open road and the Clio GT’s unique chassis tune shines. The springs are five percent stiffer all around, with the front dampers 50 percent firmer than a standard Clio, and the rear dampers are 40 percent firmer.
Body roll is negligible, and when the RS Drive selector is switched to Sport (no Race mode on the GT) the steering becomes weightier and feels more direct.
Shod with 17-inch alloys, the GT can feel a touch jittery on choppy roads with lots of small bumps and corrugations. However, ride comfort isn’t overly compromised by the firmer suspension settings, and it’s certainly not overly stiff at suburban speeds.
Typically soggy Victorian weather during the launch provided plenty of rain, but the GT’s Michelin Primacy3 tyres gave great grip in both wet and dry conditions. Road noise was an issue on coarse chip, though.
But while the chassis impressed us, the lack of power on the hilly, high-speed drive route made for slow progress at times. A hot hatch this ain’t, but in typically French fashion it sure can handle a corner or two.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 35.87 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Traction control and stability control are standard, alongside, ABS, EBD and brake assist.
Four airbags are standard - dual front and front side/head airbags - however the 2014 Clio does not have provision for full-length curtain airbags.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Renault says the Clio GT is a warm hatch comparable to these cars with similarly tepid straight-line performance. In our eyes, the closest competitor is Suzuki’s underrated Swift Sport ($24,490)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Fiesta ST is the best hot-hatch around in this light - car category, but you get two fewer doors, a much less impressive interior than the Clio GT and less equipment.
And that’s fine if you’re a die-hard fan of all things fast, but not so great if you just want a feature-packed and cool-looking hatch to zip about town in.
If the latter applies to you, Renault wants to talk to you about the Clio GT.