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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Scalpels put down as Renault debuts sharpened-up facelift Clio

Despite the first time availability of the Alpine nameplate, a performance replacement for the iconic Clio RS won't materialise anytime soon.

Although Renault only premiered the fifth generation Clio in South Africa last year after a series of delays, the automaker, in fact, showcased its rival for the Volkswagen Polo and the now defunct Ford Fiesta as far back as the Geneva Motor Show in 2019.

One of its most successful and important models in Europe as evident by 16-million units having been sold since replacing the 5 in 1990, the newly updated Clio’s revised looks takes inspiration not only from the Austral, but also its long wheelbase offshoot, the recently revealed all-new Espace.

Externally, the Clio’s reworked aesthetic has resulted in a sharper and more aggressive look, thanks to a facia design derived from the Austral and Espace MPVs.

Sharp and aggressive

Taking centre stage are slimmer LED headlights, a new grille complete with Renault’s new corporate logo, a redesigned bumper with a satin chrome blade design, a reshaped lower air intake and new LED daytime running lights on either side of the bumper the marque says represents the shape of the rhombus when combined.

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At the rear, the adaptions, although smaller, are easy to make-out and consists of a new bumper, faux diffuser and clear lens LED light clusters. Wheel sizes range from 16 to 17-inches in six specific designs.

Goodbye RS, hello Alpine

With the end of the RS moniker, the sporty RS Line has been dropped and replaced by the Esprit Alpine, the latter suffix in response to the Alpine brand now being Renault’s official performance division.

Externally, opting for the Alpine adds sportier bumpers and door sills, matte grey exterior accents, model unique 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, a shark fin antenna, black Esprit Alpine badges and gloss black mirror caps.

Colours and dimensions

In total, seven colours have been allocated; Glacier White, Star Black, Shale Grey, Flame Red, Valencia Orange, Iron Blue and a new triple layer hue called Rafale Grey.

Dramatically updated Renault Clio revealed
Prominent at the rear are the new light clusters. Image: Renault

Dimensionally, the CMF-B platform that also underpins the Captur, the returning Mitsubishi Colt and the erstwhile Nissan Micra has not been changed, meaning the Clio still measures 4 053 mm long, 1 439 mm high and 1 988 mm wide.

In addition to the unchanged 2 583 mm wheelbase, boot space ranges from 366-litres to mas much as 1 069-litres with the rear seats folded down.

..And inside

Inside, the Clio’s interior appears almost unchanged, but on closer inspection, the revisions become visible.

Besides new seats with double white, red and blue stitching, a French tricolour and ‘A’ branded seatbacks in the Alpine, Renault has upgraded the materials on all models to include a new option called Tencel made mostly out of a bio-based cellulosic fibre.

Dramatically updated Renault Clio revealed
Changes inside appear small. Image: Renault

Depending on the trim level, the Clio receives a choice of two digital instrument clusters; a seven-inch or a ten-inch, as well as two R-Link infotainment displays; the basic seven-inch and the more upmarket portrat-style 9.3-inch the Alpine comes with as standard.

Both displays are, however, equipped as standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although only the latter gets integrated satellite navigation.

Finally, the array of safety and driver assistance systems, which contribute to the Clio being capable of Level 2 autonomous driving, consists of a 360-degree camera system, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Centring Assist, Park Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Reduced powertrains

As for power, Renault has made the surprise decision to drop its flagship petrol engine, the Daimler co-developed 1.3-litre turbo that made 96kW/240Nm, as well as the entry-level 63kW/220Nm turbodiesel and on the transmission front, the Nissan-derived CVT as well as the seven-speed dual-clutch.

Renault reveals facelift Clio
A choice of two infotainment systems are available depending on the trim level selected. Image: Renault

The leaves a line-up of four units; a single petrol and turbodiesel, a new LPG and the intricate E-Tech hybrid that now serves as the most powerful derivative available.

On the petrol front, both units displace 1.0-litres with outputs of 48kW/95Nm for the normally aspirated SCe 65 mill, and 66kW/160Nm for the turbocharged TCe 90. As its name also points out, the LPG delivers 100 pferdestarke or PS, which amounts to 74kW/160Nm.

The sole transmission option on the latter pair is a six-speed manual and a five-speed manual on the SCe 65, with no automatic being available.

As for the diesel, known as the Blue dCi 100, the tried-and-tested 1.5-litre continues to provide motivation at a rate of 74kW/260Nm. Similar to the senior petrol and LPG engines, the only gearbox option is a six-speed manual.

Renault reveals facelift Clio
E-Tech now, officially, tops the Clio range as the most powerful model available. Image: Renault

Introduced three years ago, the top-spec E-Tech combines a normally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 36 kW electric motor driven by a 1.2-kWh battery.

The result is a combined output of 107 kW, not 103 kW as previously reported, fed to the front wheels via a unique four-speed automatic gearbox that loses the clutch and synchromesh for a dog ring design similar to what the previous generation Abarth 695 Biposto utilised.

Combined with the two speeds provided by the electric motor, the ‘box, in fact, has six ratios and according to Renault, can be setup in 14 different ways to maximise efficiency.

Arriving next year

Likely the final revision Renault will apply to the Clio as the nameplate is reportedly set for discontinuation next year with the debut of the all-electric 5 in an interesting turn of irony, the updated model has been confirmed for South Africa but only from next year.

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