The first impression
It seems as if I am having a French affair. After reviewing three French vehicles one after another, it does feel that way. I have a new found respect for the French car manufacturers after my 21 day French lesson. They are beautifully designed and pay great attention to design details. More than that, they have soul and personality.
The Clio 4 was listed in my “Time to place your order. Here are some hot new car releases in 2013.” The Clio's of the past made an impression in the South African market, so much so, that the Clio 2 was the SA Car of the Year winner in 2000 and the Clio 3 was winner in 2006/2007. Renault has a lot riding on the four tires of this Clio 4. With the global recession, consumers have shed their overspending bulge for trimmer budget slimming ways. Car buyers are looking for “more for less”. They want more features, the same performance and lower running costs. The Clio 4 has not only matched the expectations of the market but exceeded it. Never before have I reviewed a car at R179 900 with this many features. In fact, cars twice if not three times its price come standard with the Clio 4’s level of equipment. Renault’s Seniour Product Manager, Wayne van der Merwe, says it’s a “small car with big car attributes”, and I have to agree.
The marketing team at Renault have used three words to describe their new Clio: Simple, sensuous and warm. I would have rather grouped: Confident, captivating and dam sexy! Renault have a long history with Formula 1, and they have taken some of the technology created for their life-size Scalextric cars and quite magically injected it into their new baby. I was apprehensive when I initially found out that the Clio only came in a 1.2 3-cylinder (55kW) or 898cc 3-cylinder turbo (66kW). Sure the sewing machine-sized engine would be economical, but I think my weed eater has bigger engine, so how the hell will it accelerate? Pretty well actually and much like a 1.4 4-cylinder, you can sprint in and out of traffic rather well and the 3-cylinder engine has a great note, similar to a 6-cylinder. Dynamically the car loves to be exploited, encouraging higher revs and quick cornering, which are a treat in the Clio. The Clio has actually been designed for a larger more powerful engine in mind. As a matter of fact, the Clio will not only be sold in the two engine variations as mentioned, but later will come in a more powerful 1.2 3-cylinder turbo unit and the RenaultSport 1.6 Turbo. So the chassis is very capable of maneuvering the car around with what the current engine output has to throw at it. But if you’re not a drag racer the current tiny engines are perfect for city and highway driving.
I love gizmos and Renault has partnered with LG to create a central interactive table console with a host of multimedia functions. The 18cm colour play screen is easy to use and even features a navigation system. This is a first in this class of car. The interior is much like the exterior of the car, it’s clever and dynamic. Because it is a budget car, materials used are fair quality and the mix of shiny, matt and textured materials is excellent in creating a deceptively plush look and feel to the cabin.
The extra stuff
As is the case across Renault’s entire product range, the three new Clio variants come standard with a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty, a 3-year/45 000km service plan and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty.
For those who wish to go one step further, optional extras include a fixed sunroof, automatic climate control and rear parking sensors.
Perhaps recessions aren’t such a bad thing after all. It places everyone under pressure and the end result is better products. Renault is defiantly trying to stop it, especially in colourful defiance as the Clio comes in a variety of colours, but looks best in eye-popping primary colours: Red, yellow and blue. The Clio ticks every box and is very hard to find fault and as a result this would put the Clio as my choice against its competitors. Renault I believe you have a winner on your hands!
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