The fresh omission
As of this morning, my computer informs me that I have tested 298 cars, not including multiples at launches. The list is made up of 34 manufacturers and includes everything from a full electric to twin-turbo V12’s. Until this morning, for reasons unknown, this list did not include a Renault Clio.
Somehow I never made their launches or someone else always tested the latest model. This omission was finally addressed when the striking new Clio 4 appeared at our office in crimson metallic Expression Turbo guise. I immediately created a diversion, grabbed the key card and ran for it.
Half a kay down the road with my phone on silent, I finally got a chance to get acquainted with one of the world’s favourite French hatchbacks. Like its main rival, the Peugeot 208, previous versions may have been called girly so both received great dollops of unisex, modern flair.
I think the Clio takes the crown.
Any beauty contest should also include the funky Fiesta, curvy Koreans or sober Polo and while the outcome is down to personal tastes, I think the Clio takes the crown. Its lines are very fresh with unique touches and family genes thrown in for safety’s sake.
Its interior shows more distinctive features which include quality finishes, interesting textures, chrome-look highlights, protruding centre console and a deeply recessed combination of analogue and digital instruments which all create a mix of minimalism and tech overload.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, pedal and steering feel is light and crisp as is the action of the five-speed manual gearbox. Renault still insists on using its key card as well as cruise control buttons on the steering wheel and an audio stalk on the steering column.
Every Clio 4 offers a five-star EuroNCAP rating, ABS/EBD brakes, stability control, hill start assist, four airbags, ISOFIX anchors, adjustable steering wheel, on-board computer, LED daytime running lights, folding and heated exterior mirrors, 60/40 folding rear seats (300 to 1,146L), power windows and radio/USB/Aux with punchy speakers.
Bigger models get a huge satnav / infotainment touch-screen, Bluetooth, air-con, auto windows, auto lights, auto wipers, foglamps, ECO mode, glossy trim, bigger wheels (16 or 17 inch) and more colour coding. Each new Clio has a 5-year/150,000km warranty and 3-year/45,000km service plan.
There are three petrol models to choose from, a 1.2L 55kW Authentique, this 900cc 66kW Turbo Expression and a more posh Dynamique version. Yes, less than one litre. I know motorbikes with more capacity than that. The Energy TCe 90 (horsepower) turbo-petrol three-cylinder also develops 135Nm.
Much like Ford’s 1-litre EcoBoost engine, this motor is a marvel of modern engineering, delivering unbelievable response and consumption. 0-100km/h takes about 12 seconds, top speed is 182km/h, average CO2 output just 105g/km and fuel consumption around 4.5L/100km.
You need to put foot quite often to get going, torque is just about sufficient and our average consumption was closer to 7L/100km from the 45L tank. Just for a laugh, I switched on ECO mode and carefully commuted to and in Cape Town which returned 4.3L/100km.
For even more of a laugh, I whipped the Clio around some winding roads where I found the steering slightly over-assisted but the mix of handling and comfort deeply impressive. But the ultimate laugh is the pricing. The 1.2 Authentique costs N$149,900, this Turbo Expression is N$169,900 and the Dynamique costs N$179,900.
Buy one right now before they notice their mistake.
Everyone expected this mid-range model to hover around N$200,000 which means this is either the bargain of the year or an epic printing fail. Offering such a cool, clever car at N$30,000 less is simply astonishing. Buy one right now before they notice their mistake.
0-110km/h: lost signal
0-100m: 7.3s / 74.7km/h
0-200m: 11.4s / 95.2km/h
0-300m: lost signal
1/4mile: lost signal
Climate Cool, sunny
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/3