Renault has launched the fifth-generation Clio on a new platform, upgraded its interior and will add a fuel-saving hybrid variant to the powertrain family in a bid to keep the automaker's best-seller atop Europe's largest segment, small cars. The Clio is the first Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance model on the jointly developed CMF-B platform.
Renault claims savings of 50 kilograms and improved underbody aerodynamics over the previous architecture, helping to reduce fuel consumption. New construction techniques improve stiffness and safety, Renault says.
Renault has focused on the interior of the new Clio, with particular attention to connectivity, perceived quality and digital screens. Analog gauges have been replaced by a digital instrument panel, with an optional 10-inch version incorporating navigation functions.
The central 9.3-inch multimedia touchscreen, which is angled toward the driver, has a significantly larger surface area than the screen in the current version of the Clio, Renault says. The EasyLink interface coordinates entertainment, apps and navigation functions, and incorporates features from Renault's partners, TomTom and Google.
Redesigned seats have deeper bolsters and better materials, as well as thinner headrests and a shape that allows for more rear-seat knee room. Renault says a higher central console with shorter gear lever improves ergonomics. The steering wheel has been made smaller, through a more compact airbag, which Renault says improves dashboard visibility. Trim levels now include R.S. Line, with racing-inspired features such as redesigned front and rear valances, and a new Initiale Paris version with leather seats and other luxury appointments.
The big news on the engine front for Clio is the introduction next year of a hybrid powertrain, which Renault calls E-Tech. With two electric motors and a 1.2-kilowatt hour battery, the E-Tech system can operate in full-electric mode 80 percent of the time in urban driving, reducing overall emissions by 40 percent in city traffic, Renault says.
The Clio's exterior shape is not a radical departure from the fourth generation's, but the car's length has been trimmed by 12mm and it is about 30mm shorter. It will be available only in a five-door hatchback version. Notable stylist changes include chrome-plated side window surrounds, a glossy black B-pillar trim, front air deflectors that Renault says improve aerodynamics, larger rear taillights and more deeply sculpted body sides.
"The exterior design of Clio IV won over our customers and continues to do so today, so we chose to keep that DNA," says Laurens van den Acker, Renault Group's corporate design director. Van den Acker noted that design has become a much more important criteria for Renault buyers in the past decade.
The Clio has three families of driver assistance systems: Driving, parking and safety. Driving aids include Highway and Traffic Jam Companion, which keeps the vehicle centered in its lane and maintains a set speed and distance from cars in front and behind, at speeds up to 160 kph. Drivers must still keep their hands lightly on the wheel, Renault says.
Parking assistance is provided by a 360-degree camera system, which combines images to give a bird's-eye view of the vehicle. Easy Park Assist controls steering to aid parallel parking, though the driver needs to control the pedals and brakes.
Renault has improved emergency braking to distinguish between bicycles and pedestrians. Other safety aids include a radar-activated blind spot warning and traffic sign recognition with speed alert.
The Clio will be built in Renault's factories in Bursa, Turkey, and Novo Mesto, Slovenia, with extra capacity available in Flins, France. IHS Markit predicts that Renault will sell 350,000 Clios worldwide in 2020.
The Clio led Europe's small-car segment in with first five months with sales of 151,274, up 4 percent, according to data from JATO Dynamics market researchers. The Volkswagen Polo was No. 2 with sales of 124,547, down 3.2 percent.