Review of new Clio - not favourable
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  1. #1
    nJm
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    Default Review of new Clio - not favourable

    This is from the Sunday Times (UK)

    Renault Clio
    By Andrew Frankel of The Sunday Times

    What's French for va va trundle?


    Having driven this, the new third-generation Renault Clio, I understand better than ever the point of va va voom. It is not, as Renaultís advertising agency would like you to believe, to draw your attention to the fact that the Clio is the sporting god of its class.
    On the contrary, it is to deflect your attention from the fact that it is not. Take it from me, and with apologies to John Cleese, this car wouldnít voom if you put 4m volts through it.

    Iíll get the unpleasantness out of the way first, so we can concentrate on this now not so little carís many merits. People expecting the new Clio to be involving, indulging and infectiously enthusiastic in the great tradition of small French hatchbacks are going to feel rather let down.

    Itís not fast ó most models are slower than those they replace ó and a day bombing around the Sardinian coastline failed to persuade me that it was fun. Competent? For sure. Safe? Of course. But exciting? Only if your bored co-driver pulls on the handbrake when youíre not expecting it.


    Should this count against such a car? Probably, if only because it will be bought by the young who will appreciate a car with a spring in its step. Then again, 20 years ago I had a Peugeot 205 that was so much fun it nearly killed me.

    Which is absolutely the last thing this Clio will do. Not only is it so stable youíd need an earthquake to unsettle it but even if you do somehow contrive to hit something big and hard, there are six airbags and a five-star Euro NCAP rating to look after you.

    Sales of the three-door model will start in October (five doors come in the new year). There is a 1.5 litre diesel engine available with 68bhp, 86bhp and 106bhp, and three petrol units, a 75bhp 1.2 litre, a 98bhp 1.4 litre and a 111bhp 1.6 litre.

    Prices begin at £8,895 for the most humbly equipped 1.2, rising to £12,650 for the high-power diesel in range-topping Dynamique S specification. Where new and old models are directly comparable, Renault says the average price increase is a reasonable £200.

    Of them, the diesels are by far the best. This new Clio weighs a colossal 130kg more than its predecessor, thanks in part to its greater overall dimensions but mainly to the extra safety gear it carries, and all the petrol engines need to be worked harder than they care to go to deliver decent performance. The short overall gearing required to make the most of their modest power-to-weight ratios also means thereís a little too much engine noise at a constant cruise.

    No such worries arise with the diesels, at least the 86bhp and 106bhp versions I sampled. It says much for the current state of the diesel car art that these diesel Clios are now more refined than their petrol-powered brethren.

    Because they do their best work at about 2000rpm, a speed at which the petrol engines are barely functioning, you never need to thrash them to get where you want to go.

    However, the vast majority of sales will continue to go to the petrol-powered cars, only because modern diesel technology is so expensive. Putting a diesel engine in a Clio adds about £1,000 to its cost, and even at more than 60mpg thatís a lot of driving for it to pay for itself.

    But while such issues may compromise certain versions of the Clio on the road, in the showroom itís likely to prove a hit, whateverís under the bonnet.



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    Its styling clearly reflects Renaultís excellent modern design direction, but itís subtler than the Mťgane and cuter for it. The interior is astonishingly roomy for a car in this class, thanks in no small part to the longest wheelbase in the sector, while the bootís impressively big, too. Folding the rear seats is the matter of a moment but they donít stow completely flat and any large items you want to store will have to negotiate a large ridge where the rear seats were. The driving environment is good, too, with the controls neatly presented and attractively arranged.

    The Clio is in a class thatís developing fast. Today it may be the latest thing but it will be joined this autumn by an all-new Fiat Punto and Toyota Yaris. Right now itís good enough to qualify as Europeís best answer to the Japanese talent that leads the class: the Honda Jazz, sorely underrated Mitsubishi Colt and Nissan Micra, whose platform the Clio shares.

    But Renault will care little about this for, in sales terms, the threat from competing Japanese constructors is still not great. As ever, it will be interested mainly in overtaking Peugeot in the sales charts, something the old Clio has failed to do with any consistency in Europe and at home for many years, despite its fundamental superiority to the Peugeot 206. Next spring will see the launch of the all-new Peugeot 207 and its designers will be aware that while Renault has set the bar high, it is by no means out of sight.

    VITAL STATISTICS

    Model: Renault Clio 1.4 16v Expression
    Engine type: 1390cc, four cylinders in line
    Power/Torque: 98bhp @ 6000rpm / 94 lb ft @ 3750rpm
    Transmission: Five-speed manual
    Fuel/CO2: 42.2mpg (combined cycle) / 160 g/km
    Performance: 0-62mph: 10.5sec / Top speed: 115mph
    Price: £9,395
    Verdict: Sets a new standard among French hatchbacks
    Rating: 4/5

    THE OPPOSITION

    Mode:l Ford Fiesta 1.4 16v £9,195
    For: Good ride and handling. Spirited engine
    Against: Yawn-inducing looks, interior quality not the best

    Model: Peugeot 206 1.4S £9,640
    For: Good looks, excellent image, well equipped
    Against: Age, driving position. Less fun than youíd expect
    Nick
    1983 Peugeot 505 GR


    "All of its cars from the 1.1 litre 205 through the ugly duckling 309 to the 2.2 litre 505 GTi had a rightness and a righteousness about them that turned every humdrum drive into a journey. Someone, I once wrote, in the bowels of Peugeot understands handling and how a chassis should feel." - Jeremy Clarkson

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Sunday Times
    Verdict: Sets a new standard among French hatchbacks
    Rating: 4/5
    I dunno, that seems quite favourable

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    nJm
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    Hahaha well I guess in that sense it is but it sounds like its lost a lot of flair and excitement.

    Iíll get the unpleasantness out of the way first, so we can concentrate on this now not so little carís many merits. People expecting the new Clio to be involving, indulging and infectiously enthusiastic in the great tradition of small French hatchbacks are going to feel rather let down.
    Nick
    1983 Peugeot 505 GR


    "All of its cars from the 1.1 litre 205 through the ugly duckling 309 to the 2.2 litre 505 GTi had a rightness and a righteousness about them that turned every humdrum drive into a journey. Someone, I once wrote, in the bowels of Peugeot understands handling and how a chassis should feel." - Jeremy Clarkson

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    Fellow Frogger! ColinJ's Avatar
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    he didn't have fun driving it, and talks fondly about his 205 of 20 years ago. probably says more about the reviewer than the car.
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    I get the impresion that it is all about creating cars for consumption and utility rather than a driver focussed machine. The last model Ford Focus was praised for its handling even in the cheaper models, yet was fairly average sales wise. I guess the manufacturers see what are the largest sellers (ie Corolla), or what designs are making inroads (ie Hyundai), neither of which could be called driver focussed cars, and cut the cloth accordingly.

    To me it didn't seem an exceptionally bad report, just that the car is probably less driver oriented. Perhaps Renault are going all out with the design for the new RS version? That will have to be pretty special judging from the reputation of the current model. When the current RS Clio 2 came out it had rather lukewarm reports compared to the Clio Williams, but the current RS Clio still manages to hold its own against the current crop.

    Then again, sounds like the usual thing, the journo's are always wrong when they slag off cars we like and are always right when they praise cars we do like.

  6. #6
    XTC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon
    I get the impresion that it is all about creating cars for consumption and utility rather than a driver focussed machine.
    110% agree ... car makers are feeling the squeeze, oil will push the price of everything up. Sad days ahead for all.

    - xTc -
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    The previous Focus was a HUGE success (although not in Australia, we got it when it was about to be replaced - and with the worst engines Ford could find). The Corolla does'nt sell that well in much of Europe, and the Koreans are not that big in Western Europe either.

    Why do you think everyone is switching to copying the old Focus' suspension setup?

    If you drive the current range of hatches, you'll see how seriously manufacturers are taking driver involvement.

    Sadly the 307, C4, and Megane are to a degree M.I.A. on this driver focused revival (no pun intended).

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    Theres a bit riding on the RS really, as that is also the current Renault excuse for stopping manufacture of the V6 Clio - the RS will be "just as fast" or "nearly as fast" depending on what you read/hear!
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    I am not sure how it can be "as fast" if it is carrying round an extra 130kg.

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    Yeah, I also thought the review was reasonable.

    It basically says that the car is probably the class leader but lacks the driving spark of the previous generation 'lightweight' Clio's.

    This is probably a direct by-product of the longer wheel base.

    Re the weight: The previous generation Clio platform (although updated a few years back) was quite long in the tooth and was designed before the recent munufacturers push towards 5 star safety. Bearing in mind the Clio is also a fair bit bigger, I reckon 130kg is reasonable and also explains the substantial increase in power reportedly under the bonnet of the RCS.

    I'd imagine that the RCS would have alot firmer rear end which will promote far better turn in and ummm...fun

    Whether it will try and kill you ala 205GTi, personaly I'd rather go fast and straight than slow and sideways....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Europa
    Theres a bit riding on the RS really, as that is also the current Renault excuse for stopping manufacture of the V6 Clio - the RS will be "just as fast" or "nearly as fast" depending on what you read/hear!
    I'd imagine that the updated Megane 225 would be just as fast as the V6Clio...

    I seem to remember the Megane lapping a bit faster in the recent Top Gear test...I'd still take the V6 though...drooolll

    There is also reportedly a new unique bodied coupe coming...apparently it may revive the Alpine name brand...

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    Doesn't seem fair to expect the povvo pack 1.4 litre model to be 'sporty' in its performance, surely it is targeting the more economy end of the market. Not so much the 205GTi - compare with the 1.1 litre panel van perhaps? Don't recall too many raving about that one....

    If they have the fundamentals right in the basic models, given some tweaks into the RSC it should be brilliant! after all, that would be the model aimed at the more 'sporting' driver. Good basic package, performance and handling, and mighty good styling to boot. IMHO its far better looking than the groper-0-7 pugs or the new Foc us...

    Quote Originally Posted by mistareno
    personaly I'd rather go fast and straight than slow and sideways....
    Huh? You've been given a V8 Falcon work car eh Richard?
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    Oh pls, the sunday time, the murdoch academy is far to be rated as "fair and balanced"

    more, on the Clio III the heaviest model have 130kgs, and anyway 130kg isn't that penilising the car because gear box was rescalled to conpensate the weight!

    it seems that this journalist or whatever just feld less noise and biger car than old clio, but its exactly what Renault want, keeping Clio edge seize to a confort more feeling interior!

    this guy should buy a kart if he need more sensations, or wait for the RS model!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRealFrog
    Oh pls, the sunday time, the murdoch academy is far to be rated as "fair and balanced"

    more, on the Clio III the heaviest model have 130kgs, and anyway 130kg isn't that penilising the car because gear box was rescalled to conpensate the weight!

    it seems that this journalist or whatever just feld less noise and biger car than old clio, but its exactly what Renault want, keeping Clio edge seize to a confort more feeling interior!

    this guy should buy a kart if he need more sensations, or wait for the RS model!
    http://motoring.iafrica.com/newmodels/487358.htm
    let's a Italian specialist talking about


    RENAULT CLIO III
    Driving the new Clio
    Mario Lupini
    Fri, 16 Sep 2005
    A few balmy days in Sardinia driving the all-new Renault Clio III was convincing enough to prove that this range doesn't just cater for the needs of a buyer seeking a fine small family car.

    Reaching South Africa in April or May next year, the new Clio has grown into a car that has enough to allow it to compete with some cars a class above it. Enlarged and even roomier it has many optimised chassis features while still maintaining the frugal fuel habits it had before.

    What's impressive is the extra interior space, especially in the rear of the cabin where knee-space is now available in copious amounts after being lengthened to 3.99m. There is now more space for up to five passengers. The other good news is that for the first time in this segment of the market, comfort and safety features such as hands-free locking and an ignition card are also in place.

    Renaultís engines have always impressed. But it was the 78kW 1.5 dCi, which at one time hauled four South African occupants around those twisty, hilly Italian roads with aplomb that impressed most with its linear outputs throughout the rev range. The other engines are now all more powerful except the 1.2-petrol version, which remains as before. The new petrol-engine range also includes a more powerful 1.2-litre 16V, a 1.4-litre 16V with 75kW and a 1.6-litre 16V at 82kW.

    The surprise comes with the1.5-litre dCi diesel range which, apart from the more powerful unit mentioned above, is also available with two less powerful versions at 52 and 63kW respectively.

    When it comes to fuel consumption the 1.2 litre engine consumes around 5.9 litres per 100km, 6.6 for the 1.4 litre and 6.6 for the 1.6 litre. However itís the 86kW 1.5 dCi that is the most frugal at 4.4 litres per 100km.

    The Nissan alliance-connection is there with the B-platform common to some cars in both camps. The suspension is influenced by the one on the Mťgane II. Up front the Clio III has MacPherson struts with rectangular lower arms while a torsion beam with programmed reflection on coil springs does duty on the rear.

    Naturally, due to Renaultís long history with smaller cars, handling is impeccable and amply demonstrated on those tortuous Sardinian roads along the Costa Smeralda.

    Slicker looking than the quirkier and toy-like shapes of the previous Clios, the Clio III is more curvaceous with its swooping shape more in keeping with the times. Particular attention has been paid the aerodynamics that assisted in maintaining those impressive fuel consumption figures. Two body versions will be available: 3-door and 4-door.

    The transmission setup is similar to that in the recently-launched Modus and also will soon be fitted with a sport gearbox operated by paddles neatly located behind the steering wheel. Another positive aspect of the Clio III is its 5-star Euro NCAP rating. This also includes the maximum 4-star rating for child protection, the gain no doubt complemented by Renualtís new seating arrangement for children aged between six and 10, who will now be seated in a central position of the rear seat. A first for any car in this segment are the additional cornering headlamps and double-distance xenon headlamps.

    And when you add the up-to eight airbags available, the safety aspects of the Clio III are truly impressive. The set-up also includes two adaptive front airbags with load limiters and double pre-tensioners for the front passengers. Also featured are energy absorbing front seats with headrests that prevent whiplash.

    Programmed deformation zones are standard as is ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA). Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with ASR traction control, understeer control and MSR engine torque overrun regulation is optional.

    The march of the small, sophisticated cars continues.

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