The Renault Clio gets an automatic gearbox and a new engine.
Another small hatch auto? They’re becoming popular, aren’t they?
Yes indeed. Nothing like Europe, where they account for around 80% of the market, but even in South Africa, the relatively small market share of 10% is set to increase.
It’s hardly surprising. Auto transmissions have improved much in recent years plus, with all the added infotainment functionality cars now have, drivers these days are less inclined to manually change gears. In the last decade the percentage of autos in the SA passenger car market has grown from 17% to 30%.
So what kind of auto is this then?
It’s a six-speed EDC, which is Renault speak for a dual clutch auto with six forward ratios.
And it has an 88 kW engine… that’s new for Clio too.
Spot on. It’s the 1,2-litre turbopetrol used in the Captur SUV crossover and, in the lighter Clio, it has the potential to be a lively performer.
Why only “potential”?
The transmission throttles the motor too much for my liking. Though not as much as in the Captur (either it’s a different mapping or the Captur is heavier), Renault’s EDC is slow to react to throttle inputs, negating any pep this engine has. Which is a pity because it does feel like it has some fizz in the mid-range. Unfortunately, the EDC’s languid cog swapping does it no favours
So thumbs down then?
No, not exactly. As motoring journalists, we some times forget that a snappy gearbox is not high up on a potential buyer’s priorities. And that’s especially the case in a car of this ilk. What’s going to be more important in a little hatchback that will spend much of its time negotiating traffic, is a smooth-changing transmission that copes well in stop-start traffic.
Our test route took us through traffic-congested industrial areas where the Clio adeptly kept up with the ebb and flow leaving me to focus on the various challenges that too many cars in too small a space and in too much of a hurry tend to throw up.
Well that’s a relief… what else does it have going for it?
It’s very well specced. It’s an Expression derivative, which, referring again to Renault speak, roughly means “mid range”. In the Clio range, the Expression models are responsible for the lion’s share of model sales above the cheaper Authentique and pricier Dynamique.
Indeed it’s levels of spec along with its attractive design that has made this latest-generation Clio a success in South Africa with monthly sales consistently placing it in the top five of the hugely competitive B-segment hatch market.
There’s more too. Above the usual spec found in the 66 kW Expression (which includes ABS with EBA, speed-limiter cruise control, Hill Start Assist, ESC with ASR, front and side driver/passenger airbags, and Isofix anchor points in the rear seats), in the 88 kW Expression you’ll also get manual air-con, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with nav and Bluetooth/USB connectivity, 16” alloys, fog lights, and a leather steering wheel and gear knob.
That’s lot. What does it cost?
R234 900. To put that into perspective, it’s cheaper than the VW Polo 1,2 TSI Highline auto (R262 200), marginally cheaper than the Ford Fiesta 1,0T Titanium auto (R235 900) and Kia Rio 1,4 Tec auto (R236 995), but more expensive, though better specced, than the Honda Jazz 1,2 Comfort auto (R228 500), Hyundai i20 1,4 Fluid auto (R225 900).
So if I want a small hatch with an automatic gearbox, I should definitely look at this?
You said it.
Engine:1 197 cc, four-cylinder turbopetrol
0-100 km/h:9,4 sec*
Top Speed:199 km/h*
Fuel Consumption:5,2 L/100 km*
Transmission:6-speed dual clutch auto
Maintenance Plan:5-year/150 000 km warranty & 3-year/ 45 000 km service plan
Notes:* manufacturer claim