This is the fourth-generation Renault Clio which will make its official debut at the Paris Motor Show in September.
Designed entirely by Laurens van den Acker, Renault believes the Clio 4 will be instantly recognisable. With sales dipping, the French manufacturer is also desperate that the new model is more upmarket and more desirable than its predecessor.
How much have Clio sales slumped in the UK? Well, in 2002 Renault sold 86,000 Clios in the UK: last year that figures had plummeted to 21,000.
The newcomer — available only as a five-door —certainly looks the business: it’s longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model. It also sits on a new platform with longer wheelbase and wider tracks, plus it comes with a revised electrically-assisted steering system.
It’s also the first Renault to get the company’s new corporate face, which includes a bigger badge and sleeker, integrated grille and headlights.
You also can’t help but notice the bulging rear wheelarches, while in contrast the rear door handles are cleverly hidden in the C-pillars.
Order books for the Clio 4 open in October, with first deliveries beginning in early 2013, and as you would suspect, pricing will be crucial to the car’s success … or failure.
With that in mind, Renault has slashed around £1000 from the rice of the entry-model three-cylinder car which will bring it in at under £10,500. That puts it head-to-head with its main rival, the new Peugeot 208.
The new Clio is the first Renault to use the company’s new three-cylinder Energy TCe 90 engine, which develops 90bhp and returns 65.9mpg and 99g/km CO2 emissions. According to Renault, the engine’s performance is similar to that of a 1.4-litre naturally aspirated engine.
There’s also a 1.5-litre turbodiesel unit, which again delivers around 90bhp, plus an economy-optimised Eco2 version with taller gearing. It’s this model which has the headline-grabbing figures of 83g/km and 88.2mpg.
From launch, there will also be a 1.2 turbocharged four-cylinder petrol which will be mated to a new six-speed dual-clutch auto as standard. The diesel gets the same gearbox as an option.
As is the case with all new superminis, the Clio 4 will come with a huge array of personalisation features. While manufacturers take the view that it “allows buyers to make their car stand out from the crowd”, it’s also a very profitable route to take for the company.
There are also notable improvements in the cabin, where the look is more upmarket, according to Renault.
The same dash — which will include a 7in colour touch screen as standard in the mid- and higher-spec cars — is used on all trim levels.
Renault and Tom Tom have co-developed the software used on the infotainment system, which has been dubbed ‘R-Link’. The system will be available with a variety of optional extras including internet connectivity and eventually speech-to-text functionality. Base cars will get Bluetooth and standard radio/CD.