PARIS - Renault says it will offer more features on the new Clio but will price the car no higher than the model it replaces.
President Louis Schweitzer said Renault will 'follow the same pricing policy as Volkswagen with its Golf - offering more equipment at the same, or lower, price for each trim level.'
Schweitzer spoke at a pan-European video press conference last week. Actual prices were not announced.
Three- and five-door versions will go on sale starting in March.
Schweitzer said a three-box sedan version is under consideration but that no decision has been made.
New-generation airbags will be standard in all markets for the driver and passenger. Side airbags will be standard in Germany.
The side bags will be replaced in 1999 with larger bags that protect the head and thorax.
Power steering will be standard in all markets. Air conditioning will be standard on top-range RXT models. All but the entry-level model in Italy will have will air conditioning.
Five engines are offered. A 1.9-liter direct-injection turbodiesel will be added later.
Renault does not expect to sell as many units of the new Clio as the car it replaces.
'We aim to sell 500,000 Clios annually in western Europe,' said Schweitzer. Renault sold 342,755 Clios in 1997.
The Clio is 60mm longer than its predecessor. It competes with the Fiat Punto, Volkswagen Polo and Opel Corsa.
Peugeot will unveil its new 207 supermini in October at the Paris auto show. A new Punto is expected in 1999, a new Corsa in 2000-2001 along with a supermini that Toyota will build in France.
Renault will continue using different advertising campaigns in each major market, said Philippe Gamb, Renault sales and marketing director. The campaigns will emphasize safety features.
The Clio was the best selling French-made car from 1991 to 1996. In 1996 it accounted for 26 percent of Renault's sales.