I’ve always been a believer that French cars are not quite the right choice for South Africa’s roads. I’ve always thought they belonged in France, easing along cobbled Parisian thoroughfares or cruising through the French courtryside.
But I was surprised to find when driving the new Renault Clio GT-Line around Joburg that it provided a very comfortable ride, and caught the attention of some fellow status-obsessed Joburg drivers too.
The car is a beautifully designed, cool, sleek-looking piece of French design.
It features an aggressive looking front, but worked as a compact family vehicle for my family of four.
We found the interior spacious and roomy, with enough leg room at the back for my youngsters. The sporty front bucket seats add to the feeling that this is more than a budget hatch, but also a sporty, fun ride.
Being able to adjust the height of the front car seats is also a useful function, making for a comfortable ride. It was easy to sync my I-phone with the media console and our journeys around the city resulted in each child calling out which song they wanted to hear next in a constant soundtrack dictated by the youngsters in the back seat.
The sound system is superb, projecting with great clarity and not a hint of distortion even at full volume. Admittedly it’s not very loud, but I prefer clarity over excessive volume.
Controls for the entertainment console are also conveniently situated behind the steering wheel on the right-hand side. Admittedly, I found the built-in navigator quite outdated though. On a Saturday evening, as a family we decided to take the children out for an ice cream, but when attempting to find an icecream outlet using the fitted navigator the unit was unable to identify one.
After some frustration I punched the term “ice cream” into Google Maps on my cellphone and a number of options popped up, and as such we made our way to an ice cream vendor in Sandton.
It’s interesting that the technology provided for in these cars is being overtaken so quickly by mobile technology that it might be better for manufacturers to consider partnerships with these technology providers. Additionally, before heading out for said ice cream we had to transfer a child car seat from my wife’s car to the Renault.
Trying to do this at night proved somewhat difficult as there is no back seat light in the vehicle. After fumbling my way in the dark trying to connect the various associated straps I eventually had to get out a torch.
But, other than those few gripes, the car was light, and quick, and definitely had enough power to easily overtake on our sometimes chaotic roads thanks to the added turbo.
Despite being a hatchback, the car had a spacious boot, definitely enough for the schoolbags, kitbags, laptop bags, and some groceries.
The children enjoyed being dropped off at school in the fancy red sports car (as they termed it themselves).
My son is still longingly hoping we will be using the sports car again soon.
Renault Clio GT Line
- Price: R264 900
- Engine: Four-cylinder, 1.2 litre, turbopetrol.
- Fuel consumption (Manufacturer figures): Urban – 6.8 litres per 100km; highway – 5.3l/100km