Launched in June 2006, the Renault Clio 3 entered the South African market with the title of 2006 European Car of the Year under its belt. Clio 3 Phase 1 boasted a class leading driving position, cabin space, acoustics and was the first car in its class to feature hands-free card technology (carrying the card on your person allows you to unlock and start the car without needing a key). A tough act to follow, but now, three years later, Renault have launched Phase 2 of their Clio 3.
First off, Renault has decided to keep it simple in terms of the models on offer. The new Clio 3 is available in the form of the Clio 1.6 Dynamique or the Clio 2.0 Renault Sport (a.k.a Clio RS or Clio Sport). Renault South Africa’s managing director, Xavier Gobille says “The launch of the new Clio has given us the opportunity to fine-tune our model range, aligning it with the prevailing market trends” he added that “In selecting the 1.6 Dynamique and the superb New Clio Sport, we have focused on the most popular models, and will be providing an additional, attractive Clio option in the guise of the 1.6 ‘S’ version next year”. An automatic version of the 1.6 Dynamique could also be offered in future.
The most obvious changes to the latest Clio 1.6 Dynamique are those of the front headlights, grille and bumper. The rear of the car has received subtle changes to the bumper and tail-light clusters. The Clio’s wheelbase has been extended by 41 mm, improving slightly on interior space for occupants, with generous headroom throughout the car. The new Clio rolls on larger 16-inch alloy wheels fitted with 195/50 R16 sized tyres.
Building on all the key features which made Clio 3 Phase 1 the European Car of the Year in 2006, Renault has stated a strong case in terms of value for money with their latest Clio. The list of standard features includes cruise control, cornering headlights, automatic climate control, rain sensitive windscreen wipers, light sensitive headlights, electrically operated rear windows and heated electronically operated folding side mirrors. Safety has always been high on Renault’s list of priorities and therefore it comes as no surprise to find ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) fitted as standard to the new Clio models. Also included are dual front and side airbags, as well as curtain and knee airbags.
Inside the new Clio you’ll find a MP3-compatible CD sound system with integrated Bluetooth connectivity for your mobile phone, as well as a separate stereo input and USB connection for your portable MP3 player or iPod. The big news though is another first in class for Clio, with the 1.6 Dynamique featuring a fully integrated TomTom GPS navigation system as standard. The unit sports a 15 cm colour display and is mounted on top of the dash above the centre console. Satellite controls for adjusting the volume of the voice guided navigation, which plays through the sound system, are located on the steering wheel and a remote control is also supplied for additional ease-of-use. The TomTom GPS unit is available as an option on the new Clio 3 RS.
Under the bonnet the new Clio 3 1.6 Dynamique remains unchanged. The 1,6-litre 16-valve engine produces 83 kW at 6 000 rpm and 151 N.m of torque at 4 250 rpm. The engine manages to achieve a positive balance between power and economy with fuel consumption of 6.6 l/100km on the combined cycle.
Synonymous with hot hatch aficionado’s is the Renault Sport badge and since the first Renault Clio received the RS treatment in 1999, after the Clio 16V and Clio Williams, the Clio RS has achieved wide spread acclaim. In 2005 the limited edition Clio 2 RS Trophy (of which only 550 were built) won ‘Evo’ magazine’s People’s Performance Car of The Year, beating rivals such as the Lamborghini Gallardo and other exotica in the process.
Over the years the Clio Sport’s 2,0-litre 16-valve engine has been fine tuned and in its latest form, produces 147,5 kW at 7 100 rpm and 215 N.m of torque at 5 400 rpm – 100 rpm lower than before. This is enough to propel the new Clio 3 Sport from zero to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 225 km/h. Fuel consumption has also been slightly improved with just 8.2-litres of premium unleaded required for every 100 km your travel.
But it’s not just the engine which has been improved in the latest Clio RS. Aerodynamics have been enhanced with a new front splitter that improves air-flow to the engine, while new front wing air extractors have been designed to reduce air turbulence, as well as draw hot air from the engine bay and down the sides of the car. The rear diffuser now prominently displays the two chrome tail pipes on either side and, as in the previous Clio RS, uses the air passing underneath the car to decrease lift, enhance grip and aid stability.
The new Renault Clio Sport receives numerous chassis and suspension changes, however, they are incremental rather than radical. The front and rear tracks have been widened by 48 mm and 50 mm respectively, while the wheelbase is 10 mm longer. The front anti-roll bar diameter has also been increased from 20 to 21 mm. At the rear, the new Clio Sport features a programmed deflection torsion beam that has been reinforced by 25 percent, while a new 30 mm anti-roll bar helps to curb body roll.
The new 17-inch rims are not just for show either, and are each 1 kg lighter than before. Furthermore, they’re wrapped in 215/45 R17 Continental Sport Contact tyres, which reportedly offer five percent reduction in rolling resistance. Behind the new wheels sit a set of Brembo four-piston brake calipers, which bite into 312 mm discs in the front and the rear sees a set of single-piston calipers linked to 300 mm discs. As with its smaller 1.6 Dynamique sibling, the Clio RS features ABS brakes, EBD, EBA and ESP as standard, while the ESP can be switched off for track use.
We recently drove the new Clio 3 RS on one of Cape Town’s most miserable winter days so far this year. Despite the rain bucketing down and water streaming across the roads, we were impressed with the level of grip on offer, as well as the comfortable ride over some of the Cape’s bumpy back roads. We’re looking forward to spending more time in the new Clio and will bring you a full road test in due course.
The new Clio 3 1.6 Dynamique retails for R188 000 and the Clio 3 Renault Sport sells for R249 900. Both new Clio models feature 15 000 km service intervals and are sold with a 3-year/45 000 km service plan and 3-year/100 000 km warranty. In addition, the buyers of the Clio Renault Sport will receive a high-performance advanced driving course, conducted by the Renault Driver Academy.