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Renault Clio

X85 Clio III

1 Aug 2008

RENAULT’S third-generation Clio returned to Australia in August 2008, but only in Renault Sport 197 hot-hatch guise – some three years after its European unveiling.

Completely redesigned inside and out, the Clio III has grown in every dimension.

For instance, the gap in length between old and new is 200mm, which is the same as the larger Megane. But weight jumped to 1240kg versus 1035kg for the old car.

Compared to the regular Clio III, the RS’ body has been pumped up with wider front and rear wings to accommodate the larger wheels and tyres, side skirts and a semi-rigid under-bumper splitter, while the stance has been lowered.

Extractor vents and an active rear air diffuser have been devised to aid stability and prevent rear-end lift by. This results in a downforce rating of between 40 and 70kg at high speed, eliminating the need for a rear spoiler.

Underneath is a radical redevelopment of the Renault/Nissan Alliance B Platform, which actually underpins the Nissan Tiida and Micra.

The subframe is the same used on the Megane RS 225, and employs transverse strengthening for greater front-end rigidity, according to Renault. Its bushes, front shock absorber mountings and rear suspension mountings are also stiffer.

The double-axis front suspension system uses aluminium to cut 7.5kg, for improved steering response. To this end, Renault says that separating the steering axis from the damping system eliminates torque steer.

In the rear is a stiffer (by 25 per cent) torsion beam while the 30mm-in-diameter anti-roll bar is 5mm wider than on usual X85 Clios.

The four-wheel disc brakes are Brembo-supplied calipers at the front, and TRW items out back, while the 17-inch lightweight alloy wheels are shod with 215/45 tyres.

Turning the front wheels, via a new six-speed manual gearbox, is a development of the old RS 182’s normally aspirated 1998cc 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve variable-valve timing four-cylinder petrol engine.

Power peaks at 145kW, achieved at a high 7250rpm, while the 215Nm torque top maxes out at 5550rpm, courtesy of the RS division. The result is a 0-100km/h-sprint time of 6.9 seconds.

Lower emissions are a result, with carbon dioxide pollution dropping to 199g/km, while the combined average fuel consumption rating is 8.4L/100km.

On the safety front, the Clio III has earned a five-star European NCAP crash-test result. Present are ABS, eight airbags, stability control, traction control and anti-submarining front seats.

Owners of previous-model Clios will instantly notice considerably more room inside, particularly for heads, legs, knees and shoulders, with the driving position in particular coming in for improvement.

Standard features include air-conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, remote central locking, power windows, a multi-function trip computer, a single CD/radio player, and 60/40 split-fold rear seats.

Like other RS models, the Clio RS 197 is built in Dieppe, Northern France.

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