This past week was the Mondial de l’Automobile 2016, commonly known as the Paris Motor Show, and Renault was out in force. I was there to not only cover the show, but also to drive their number one global seller, the new Clio and Clio RS.
I will talk about the show just now, but one thing I can tell you is that the Renault brand now has a vehicle for every stage of your life. The company realises it cannot just be a strong brand in France and Europe, and has evolved into a world brand, and are, by far, the strongest French brand in South Africa.
Right! Back to the new Clio that will be here before the end of the year in TCe 90 (66kW Turbopetrol) manual transmission and TCe 120 (88kW Turbopetrol) EDC guise. Early next year, the TCe 120 GT-Line (88kW Turbopetrol) manual option will be launched, followed by the Clio RS in Lux trim and Clio RS Trophy, both offered in EDC only.
From the outside, it’s very much a case of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The changes are subtle, and see the likes of front, full LED “Pure Vision” headlights (model dependant) being used.
They not only enhance the Clio’s appearance, they are safer too by emitting a light that is 20% more powerful than a halogen beam, while at the same time, reduce glare.
On higher-end versions, the new Clio’s headlamps incorporate C-shaped LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), emblematic of the brand’s new lighting signature. The permanent rear LED lights mirror this look by similarly adopting a C-shaped design (again, model dependant).
For the entry-level and midrange versions, the car now benefits from LED Daytime Running Lights and a chrome trim along the bottom of the grille.
At the front, the top grille housing the logo has been redesigned, as has the lower grille. At the rear, the skirt has been redesigned for additional robustness. Meanwhile, four new colours have been added to the existing selection (Intense Red, Titanium Grey, Pearly White and Iron Blue), along with new wheel designs.
Inside, the new Clio benefits from the introduction of higher quality materials that offer a better visual appearance. The chrome is subtler, with less glare, and the colours inside the interior are more refined. You also get a redesigned steering wheel, door panels and central air vents, along with LED interior lighting.
The bottom line is the new Clio is a bit more sophisticated inside. I can’t get into too much detail in terms of exactly what spec we will get in each model, as this must still be packed and finalised for our market. But as you know, the Renault Clio has been class-leading in the segment in terms of spec and safety offered.
The model we drove on the road was the TCe 120 GT-Line (88kW Turbopetrol) to be availed with a six-speed manual transmission as already said. Offering an alternative to the EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) automatic transmission, this manual option is said to target cost-conscious customers who still wish to retain complete driving control.
And with 205Nm of torque at 2 000rpm, this model was great fun around the twisty little roads around the Renault Technocentre in Guyancourt in the Yvelines, about 30km west of Paris.
But being Renault, you know that Renault Sport guys were chomping at the bit to let us experience their new Clio RS, and for this, we were let loose on the CERAM Test Track in Mortefontaine, France.
The new Clio RS 200 EDC and Clio RS Trophy EDC will be available with a choice of two Turbopetrol engines, the 147kW one you are used to and a 164kW version in the Trophy. And this was the one we got to play with.
Featuring an unprecedented equipment package for the segment, including Launch Control, the RS Drive system enables a choice of three driving modes (Normal, Sport and Race), the RS Monitor application and hydraulic compression bump stops, making this compact hot hatch an absolute blast to drive fast.
The Trophy version is said to be capable of out-performing all other hot hatches in its class, taking just 6.6 seconds to sprint from 0-100km/h, 14.5 seconds to cover 400m from a standing start and then going on to reach a top speed of 235km/h.
Good news for those Renault performance enthusiasts that want even more than the mighty Trophy can offer, is that the mental Clio RS 16 concept car that is powered by the 201kW Megane 275 2.0 litre Turbopetrol is under serious consideration to go into production.
Pricing and full spec will be made available closer to the local launch dates.