Bling for your buck
The extra bling in the Clio range starts with the entry-level Life, which gets body-coloured door mirrors and handles, a chrome boot lid strip, chrome door sill insert and chrome trim radiator grille as well as a new 16-inch ‘flex’ steel wheel design. It also now has hands-free entry with smart key and push-button start, dusk-sensing headlights and rain-sensing wipers, rear-view camera and parking sensors, ECO mode, electric windows on all positions and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
At $19,990 the mid-level Zen, which we tested, gets new C-shaped LED headlights, front fog lights and parking sensors, a gloss black treatment for the lower rear bumper trim and two-tone 16-inch alloy wheels. There’s also a new satellite navigation system with voice control.
The Intens and GT-Line are the same price, $22,990 plus ORC, but are aimed at different buyers. The luxurious Intens gains chrome window trim, side parking sensors, hands-free parking, driver’s armrest, LED cabin lights, advanced sound system, R-LINK navigation and multimedia system with voice control, height adjustable passenger’s seat, velvet/artificial leather upholstery, climate control, rear privacy glass and 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels as well as a couple of no-cost trim items to personalise the car.
For an edgier look, the GT-Line receives Renault's Sport-inspired blue highlights for the upholstery, aluminium sport pedals, GT-Line badging, a rear spoiler, leather handbrake handle, satin grey door mirrors, exterior trims and the front and rear bumper inserts, as well as 17-inch Serdar alloy wheels.
Easy but still dynamic
The 1.2-litre engine in the Zen we drove, with 88kW of power and 190Nm of torque on tap, makes it easy to drive while still dynamic enough to be fun. It feels a little more grown-up than its main rivals in the class. Depending on how it’s driven, a slight hesitation on take-off can be felt occasionally as the turbo engine and dual-clutch transmission sort themselves out.
The strut-style front suspension and torsional beam axle set-up at the rear provide a firm yet compliant enough ride and sharp, surefooted handling. Well-weighted positive steering rounds off the package. Some buyers might be surprised to find Clio still has rear drum brakes, but this is fairly common in this class and has proven to be perfectly adequate for these lightweight cars.
The Zen delivered a pleasing mix of strong light car performance and excellent fuel economy. Official fuel consumption (on 95-RON premium petrol) is a frugal 5.6L/100km, and over a week of mainly city and suburban driving, we managed a still economical 6.6L/100km.