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Driven: Renault Clio launches from $16,790

Baby blue: Renault's funky new Clio hits showrooms on September 11.

Sharp pricing for Renault’s new Clio range as French brand sizes up Ford and VW


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5 Sep 2013

RENAULT returns to the Australian light-car segment in earnest on September 11 with the launch of the new, fourth-generation Clio five-door range.

As promised, the Clio is priced smack-bang among key rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta from $16,790 plus on-road costs.

The chic new French mini is projected to account for around 2000 annual sales from 2014 – meaning it is every chance of taking over from the Megane as the brand’s top seller here.

Since 2007, Renault’s Clio range has been limited here to the now-superseded three-door, manual-only RS hot hatch. The new-generation RS hot hatch will join the new range from early 2014, priced below the old model’s $36,490 starting price.

As the first car penned from the ground up by Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker, the Clio previews the lines of other future models from the French brand. Most eye-catching are the integrated rear door-handles, oversized front logo and curvaceous side profile.

Renault will follow in the wheel-tracks of Citroen and Mini by offering high levels of customisation, extending to a range of different interior colours and trims, and body-coloured wheels. The company claims to offer several thousand different combinations.

As well as the sharp new starting price, Renault is pushing the Clio’s claimed low cost of ownership. As well as a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, buyers are entitled to three-years of capped price servicing capped at $299 per annum (12-month/15,000km intervals).

The new, regular Clio range is available in three specification levels – Authentique, Expression and Dynamique – with a pair of two turbocharged petrol engines, including Renault’s first three-cylinder.

Kicking off the range is the $16,790 Authentique TCe 90, powered by a 900cc triple-cylinder turbo engine producing 66kW at 5250rpm and 135Nm at 2500rpm.

This same drivetrain also features in the better-equipped $17,790 Expression TCe 90.

In both cases, this engine is matched exclusively with a five-speed manual gearbox only. The cheapest automatic Clio kicks off at $19,790 for the Expression TCe 120.

The self-shifter in question is a six-speed dual-clutch unit made by Getrag.

The TCe 120 moniker denotes the more powerful direct-injected 88kW at 4900rpm and 190Nm at 2000rpm 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder engine under the bonnet. No manual gearbox is available with this engine.

Rounding out the range until the arrival of the hot RS in about six months time is the Dynamique TCe 120, priced at $23,290.

Fuel consumption for the three-cylinder is a claimed 4.5-litres (of at least 95 RON premium) on the combined cycle, with a zero to 100km/h acceleration time of 12.2 seconds. The 1.2-litre is said to use 5.2L/100km and handle the 0-100km/h dash in 9.4s.

Renault will offer no diesel initially, since the petrol engines are already super-frugal, and demand for small oil-burners based on local sales is nearly non-existent. Only one per cent of light-cars sold here are diesel.

The base Authentique comes with standard equipment including height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel, 60/40 split-fold rear seats, electric front windows (not at the rear on base versions), electric mirrors and cruise control with speed limiter.

Also standard across the range are LED daytime running lights, follow-me-home lights and rear foglights, a digital speedo, a two-speaker MP3/USB/Aux-in sound system with Bluetooth streaming, 15-inch steel wheels and a rear spoiler.

All versions get safety equipment including front and side airbags, but no rear-side airbags. Renault says the passenger cell is strong enough to protect rear passenger, and the car scored the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating. The rear bench has two ISOFIX points.

Because the Clio launches before the January 1, 2014 cut-off, it will be eligible for five ANCAP stars. Any new vehicle launched next year without rear airbags will not be able to score the Australian maximum.

The Expression specification (with either engine) adds front fog lights, a four-speaker sound system, glossy black cabin inserts, a leather steering wheel and gear shifter, 16-inch wheels and – impressively – a seven-inch touchscreen with satellite-navigation. As such, Renault’s baby is Australia’s cheapest car with standard sat-nav.

The flagship Dynamique adds automatic headlights, rear parking sensors, keyless start, climate control, rain-sensing wipers, all-round electric windows, nicer black cloth seats, electric folding mirrors, rear privacy glass, 16-inch alloy wheels and a nifty sound modulator called R-Sound Effect that pipes artificial engine notes into the cabin.

Drivers can choose to hear an approximation of a Renault Sport Clio V6 from the 1990s, a superbike or even an early-20th century classic car.

All Clios come with electric variable steering (2.7 turns lock-to-lock with a 10.6 metres turning circle), front MacPherson strut suspension and a rear torsion-beam. Up front are 258mm ventilated disc brakes, while humble drums lie behind the rear wheels.

Measuring 4063mm long, 1732mm wide and 1448mm high, the Clio is longer and lower than the previous generation. Kerb weights range between 1019kg and 1104kg. Boot space is a claimed 300 litres, 12L more than the old Clio.

2013 Renault Clio pricing*
Authentique TCe 90$16,790
Expression TCe 90$17,790
Expression TCe 120 (a)$19,790
Dynamique TCe 120 (a)$23,290
*Excludes on-road costs.

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