2013 RENAULT CLIO REVIEW
Vehicle Style: 5-door light hatch
Price: $23,290 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 88kw/190Nm 4cyl petrol | 6spd dual-clutch auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.2 l/100km | tested: 7.5 l/100km
Renault’s fab new Clio is a good thing, and not just the gym-toned RenaultSport models, but the entire range.
Take this Dynamique model - it tops the non-sporting range, and adds a bigger engine and trick dual-clutch transmission over the Expression and Authentique models.
It’s also arresting to look at, with suggestive curves and rich high-gloss detailing. The fun themes extend to an outlandish but well-resolved interior.
Where Renault makes a real point of difference though is in its personalisation options.
Don’t like the lairy red wheels? Don’t have ‘em. Like a little more tang to the exterior? How about a contrasting exterior package in place of the chrome you see here?
With a price of $23,290 the Clio Dynamique is no price leader, but it brings more equipment than a Polo (for instance) while simultaneously making that car look about as exciting as a stack of manila folders.
Having already put the three-cylinder manual version through the wringer, we needed to test the mettle of the four-cylinder EDC auto (or Efficient Dual Clutch).
- More cup holders than you can shake a barista at
- Personalisation options for interior colour schemes
- R-sound selectable vehicle 'audio soundtrack'
- Clever R-link touch-screen infotainment system with sat-nav, audio streaming, Bluetooth
- Centre armrest, exclusive to Dynamique model is a welcome addition
- Electronic climate control (single zone)
Take a seat and have a look around. Notice anything?
This isn’t your average budget-car interior, it’s a hell of a lot more colorful to start with.
You'll also find an abundance of gloss black and chrome trims to go with your choice of bright primary coloured interior bits.
The seats are good: they're generously shaped and there's surprising shoulder room - the Clio is more 'small car' than 'light car' in dimensions.
But while the front is airy, rear seats can be tight for kneeroom with tall passengers up front. There is plenty of headroom though, so there shouldn’t be too many quibbles.
Overall, except for the small rear windows and confined feel there, the interior works well.
There are however a couple of things that point to the Clio's left-hand-drive origins; like a starter button that’s closer to the passenger than the driver and a tiny glovebox occupied mostly by a relay box.
The R-link touch screen dominates the centre stack, and it brings a host of features, including R-sound to make your Clio sound like anything from a dirt bike to a spaceship, piped through the car’s audio systyem.
The R-store for apps isn’t up and running yet, and the system is laggy and not as user friendly as the more basic system found in lesser models.
We also couldn’t get the Bluetooth to pair with a Samsung phone, but had no problems on other mobile platforms.
ON THE ROAD
- 1.2 litre petrol turbo inline four
- 88kW @ 4900rpm | 190Nm @ 2000rpm
- Six-speed twin-clutch auto transmission
- 0-100km/h - 9.4 seconds
- Independent MacPherson strut front | torsion beam rear
- 258mm front discs | 228x38mm rear drums
- Electrically assisted variable power steering.
- Fuel consumption listed: 5.2 l/100km
The Clio is a little more gentle off the line most of the time, and is every bit as seamless through the gears.
It’s a little slower on changes - forcing it to kick down around town requires a meaty shove of the accelerator.
Also, trying to squeeze into a park is tedious; the clutch let-out is slow and there’s no ‘creep’.
Everywhere else though the engine and transmission work like a charm. The turbocharged 1.2 litre four develops 88kW at 4900rpm and a hefty 190Nm at a low 2000rpm.
Put together, this means there’s no struggle away from the lights, and, out of town, the Clio will happily munch the miles untroubled by hills and able to quickly summon a rapid turn of speed when needed.
We were troubled by aspects of the ride in our earlier test of the three-cylinder Clio. Thankfully, the little extra weight of the 1.2 litre four over the nose settles things noticeably on the highway.
Although the Clio loves a winding road, the steering is a little dull and doesn’t give a true feel for the road. But it’s inoffensive and the handling is grippy and direct.
Across the board, engine, tyre and wind noise are surprisingly low, and the ride comfort over pockmarks, speed humps and expansion joints is similarly good.
The sprint to 100km/h passes by in 9.4 seconds, a whopping 2.8 seconds quicker than the three-cylinder version.
Fuel use is rated at an official 5.2 l/100km but we posted 7.5 l/100km, admittedly that was city-biased and if you can resist giving it stick (I can’t) you’ll post better figures.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 35.87 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Dual front and dual side/head airbags are standard, as are anti-submarining seats, load-limiting front belt tensioners with height adjustment and adjustable head restraints for all seats.
Stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution and ABS brakes are also standard.
Important to note: the front head airbag is an extension of the side-bag. Curtain airbags are not available in the Clio range, despite this Euro NCAP determined the Clio to be the safest car in the light-car class when tested in 2012.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Without playing the luxury card, Renault manages to bring an 'air of the exclusive' to the light car class.
There’s a great car at the heart of the Clio range, with the added toys of the Dynamique making it more than just A-to-B transport.
While the low-speed behaviour of Renault’s EDC transmission can be a tad irritating (especially when parking), every other aspect of the car passes muster with flying colours.
Plus, to prove the French still love a quirk, you can make it sound like a vintage classic, dirt bike or race car (inside the cabin at least) which is a gimmick, sure, but such a hoot!
Little else in this class, at this price point, combines the Clio’s wealth of features, high-end interior and impressive warranty.
Well worth checking out if you’re in the market for a better, slightly bigger light car.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- Clio Authentique TCe 90 - manual - $16,790
- Clio Expression TCe 90 - manual - $17,790
- Clio Expression TCe 120 - EDC auto - $19,790
- Clio Dynamique TCe 120 - EDC auto - $23,290