PORTO, Portugal -- Renault is positioning its redesigned Clio as the principal challenger to Peugeot's 207 for dominance in Europe's highly competitive small car segment.
"We think we have developed a product that can take on Peugeot's 207, and anyone else for that matter," Renault's director for the small-car segment Yves-Eric Morel told Automotive News Europe.
The redesigned Clio, which is now launching across Europe, features revised interior and exterior styling as well as a range of options usually seen on larger, higher-priced cars.
New equipment includes key-less entry and a pioneering, low-cost satellite navigation system developed in partnership with Netherlands-based TomTom.
"The new design, the new features, and the touch of sportiness associated with the Renault Sport models will give us advantages over the 207, and the rest of the competition," Morel said during a press event for the car here.
Peugeot was Europe's small-car leader in 2008, selling 368,463 units of its 207, amounting to a 10 percent share of the 29-country European market tracked by JATO Dynamics.
The segment is Europe's most popular. Europeans bought 3.65 million small cars in 2008, down 9.4 percent on the 4 million sold in 2007, according to JATO data.
The Opel/Vauxhall Corsa held down second place, with 365,458 sales.
Renault was third position with a volume of 346,699 Clios, or a 9.4 percent market share.
Following Renault were the Ford Fiesta, which garnered a 9.1 percent market share, followed by the Fiat Punto and the Volkswagen Polo, which each claimed a 7.7 percent share.
While Renault is aiming at Peugeot's 207, Ford's redesigned Fiesta appears to be advancing rapidly in its rearview mirror. Boosted by scrapping incentives that are increasing consumers' shift toward smaller cars, the Fiesta was Europe's top-selling model in March with a volume of 52,805 units, according to JATO.
Renault executives admit that the Fiesta has gained traction to become a major competitor. The French carmaker is counting on customer loyalty -- more than 10 million Clios have been sold since 1990 -- and the redesign to breathe new life into its small-segment performance.
A European advertising campaign accompanying the Clio launch focuses on Renault's use of the new, low-cost built-in satellite navigation system.
The Carminat TomTom is being offered as standard equipment on some Clios and will be sold for 490 euros on all others. By comparison, most other built-in navigation systems cost more than 1,000 euros.
Renault executives say 20 percent to 30 percent of all new Clios sold in Europe will include the low-cost satellite navigation system in the first year.
"There's no reason we can't go as high as 40 percent in the future," Morel said.