Pretoria - If you’re going to go head to head with the Volkswagen Polo it better be good. And in the updated Renault Clio the French manufacturer has pretty much done exactly that.
The Renault Clio been around for quite some time and at one stage was playing around in the top three of the sales charts and despite crossovers and smaller SUV-type vehicles flexing their muscles, hatchbacks remain a popular choice among South African buyers.
The new Clio has a refreshing look about it and I particularly like the broader rear design which gives it a fresh and modern look complimenting the front with its raised radiator grill and C-shaped LED daytime running lights.
Rounding off the package the top of the range Intens we had on test stands tall on 17-inch alloys giving it a sporty look.
Inside it has been spruced up nicely and boasts a fully digital cluster, something not often seen in this segment although in Sport mode you can only see the rev-counter.
Personally I still like old school but it does give the cabin a premium feel to go with the smaller leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel, chrome inserts, soft touch surfaces and 9.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. It’s easy to use and has a decent resolution.
Under the bonnet they’ve slotted in a new three-cylinder turbo-charged 1.0 litre engine that offers 74kW and 160Nm of torque coupled to a five-speed manual transmission.
With a light clutch gear changes are smooth and easy but I do wonder whether an extra gear wouldn’t have improved the claimed fuel consumption of 5.7 litres by keeping the revs lower at highway speeds.
We’re used to the thrum of three pod motors now and there was quite a lot of that and gear changing with three teenagers and their school bags loaded in the back in some of the more hilly suburbs of Pretoria.
The engine doesn’t mind revving though and quick changes to pass slower traffic is easily done.
Tweaks to the chassis and suspension offer better road-holding that provides a sporty drive and it’s keen to take on the twisties as you shift through the gearbox, keeping the engine in the sweet spot. There’s little body roll while the seats are comfortable and provide support in the right places.
Steering inputs are relatively light keeping in mind that there may be some performance Clios out there (although sadly not locally) but this one is aimed more at the daily commute.
Overall though it’s a fun and engaging experience for a little hatch that gives the impression it aims to please whatever you throw at it whether cruising in suburbia or out on the open road.
In typical French fashion though there has to be a quirk or two such as the Renault Smart key card and stalk radio controls behind the steering wheel which will take you a while to figure out without taking your eyes off the road.
In a market that’s doing everything it can to attract buyers the Renault Clio provides a breath of fresh air in the segment and with spruced-up looks, engaging drive, decent safety features and technology it deserves to be vying for a competitive position on the sales charts.
It comes with a five-year/150 000 mechanical warranty, a two-year/30 000km service plan and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.
Renault Clio pricing (May 2022)
Clio V 1.0 Turbo LIFE: R309 900
Clio V 1.0 Turbo ZEN: R324 900
Clio V 1.0 Turbo INTENS: R349 900
Intens Option Pack – R15 000 (9.3-inch media screen, rear camera, front PDC and 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels).