Renault Clio Energy TCe 90 S&S (Eco variant)
Nice, but Renault may have a rival for Nicole's affections
Thursday 11 October 2012
Price: from £13,245 (Clio range from £10,595)
Engine capacity: 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo-charged petrol
Power output (PS @ rpm): 90 @ 5,000
Top speed (mph): 115
0-62 (mph): 11.8
Fuel economy (mpg): 65.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 99
The Clio has always been an important car for Renault in the UK. The first-generation model burst on to the market with a big advertising campaign that burnt its way into the brains of all who saw it, and even 20 years on, the mere mention of the words "Papa" or "Nicole" is enough to evoke memories of the 1991 car. Now, at this month's Paris Motor Show, Renault has given the new fourth-generation version of the Clio a big launch, too.
So is the fuss justified? Up to a point, yes. The latest Clio is a stylish thing, bigger and plusher than before. There's no three-door version any more, but the five-door looks like a three-door because it has concealed rear door handles. On a like-for-like basis, the new car is cheaper too, as prices are lower than those for the old five-door. One impressive development; the new Clio weighs up to 100kg less, a handy response to a close rival, the new Peugeot 208, which is also much lighter than its predecessor.
Under the bonnet, there's a tiny new three-cylinder petrol engine – they're very popular these days – as well as some decent carried over power units, including a reworked 1.5 diesel. And inside, from next year, there will be R-Link – on paper at least, one of the most ambitious efforts yet at integration between smartphones and a car's systems.
On the road, the Clio is smooth and quiet, and the three-cylinder engine is appealing too. It needed to be worked a bit on the Italian mountain roads on which I tested the car, which was fun but probably not great for fuel consumption – although in ECO economy trim, the three scores a very impressive 65.7 mpg and 99g/km in official tests.
But let's return to that big Renault Paris Motor Show stand that put the Clio centre stage. It was flanked by two others that show why this new car isn't quite as important to the company's fortunes as it might once have been. To the right, the stand of Renault's strategic-alliance partner Nissan; the two companies increasingly pool technology so it's the sales performance of their so-called B platform, which the Clio shares with some 20 other models, that's important for economies of scale – not just the sales of the Clio alone.
And to the left, the stand of Renault's Romanian budget brand, Dacia. Dacias haven't previously been seen in Britain but they will arrive here in January. Dealers, hit by a recent pruning of the Renault range in the UK that has dispensed with the Wind, the Laguna and the Espace, can hardly wait to get their hands on them. One of the first Dacias to go on sale here will be a smallish five-door hatchback, more conservatively styled than the Clio, but a lot cheaper too – it's called the Sandero. That means the biggest threat to the Clio's success may come not from Peugeot, Volkswagen, Kia and the rest, but from a car most UK buyers haven't even heard of yet that will be sold from the same showrooms – and I'm sure Renault will be very pleased to sell you either of them.
Life & Style blogs
What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
iPhone 6s photos leak shows new phone will be thicker than iPhone 6, could make cases defunct
Women really are more attracted to men who make them laugh, study finds
Worrying about your weight makes you more likely to pile on the pounds, researchers claim
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Malnourished two-year-old found being breastfed by dog in Chile
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 YouTube video shows woman verbally abusing takeaway staff 'because they used green peppers'
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...