Renault’s all-new supermini has a roomier cabin with a swisher feel and smart tech.
by Matt Prior
29 January 2019
Renault has shown pictures of the new fifth-generation Clio supermini ahead of the model’s official unveiling at the Geneva motor show in March.
The new Clio is smaller outside yet bigger inside, with a lighter body, and Renault says it has been developed along three lines: evolutionary exterior design, revolutionary interior design and innovative technology.
Across its four previous generations, the Clio has become Renault’s bestselling model. Unusually, the Clio 4 increased its sales every year from 2012 to 2018 to become the second-bestselling car in Europe, largely thanks, Renault thinks, to its design.
“The top reason buyers give for choosing Clio is always design,” said Vincent Dubroca, the Clio’s product manager. “Way more than in other market segments, but also against its direct competitors.”
Senior vice president of design Laurens van den Acker, whose first Renault was the fourth-generation Clio, said: “When I arrived at Renault, it [the Clio] was looking for its soul. This time, we have so much to build on it would be a shame to throw it away.”
A multi-talented contender that can stand comparison with the best superminis on the roads today, even if it isn't quite the best
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From a design perspective, then, the fifth-generation Clio seems to pick up from where the old car left off, even though it’s actually entirely new.
The Clio 5 is the first Renault to be built on the group’s CMF-B platform. At 4048mm long, it is 14mm shorter than before, with a 6mm-shorter wheelbase and a roof that’s up to 30mm lower. The body-in-white is 22kg lighter.
The interior is where the bigger changes take place, though. Van den Acker accepts Renault “dramatically needed to improve perceived quality” and reckons 70% of the time he spent with the new Clio was on its interior.
Of the Clio 4, he said: “The hard plastic was in your face. Now what’s soft is close and what’s hard is far away. We’ve benchmarked against our competitors, but we’re reaching towards premium-segment cars”.
Thinner seats have increased rear leg room by 26mm, while the glovebox is bigger and the 330-391-litre boot is claimed to be the best in its class.
“The interior is where the emphasis is,” said van den Acker, “but the difference between today and tomorrow is cars become smart.”
To this end, the Clio will be available with a raft of infotainment and driver assist features but, said van den Acker, they will be easier to use, with items like the temperature controls returning to dashboard buttons.
“The Clio 4 instrument cluster was rich on decoration but not information,” he said. “Designers like the idea of getting rid of buttons because Apple takes buttons away. But in a smartphone, you’re concentrating, and in a car, you’re doing 120km/h.”
The Clio will make its debut with a 1.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine in 65bhp and 75bhp forms, a 1.0-litre turbo with 99bhp and 129bhp and a 1.5-litre diesel with 84bhp and 114bhp.
In 2020, though, it will become Renault’s first hybrid, with an 89bhp petrol engine mated to a 40bhp electric motor and 1.2kWh battery. The brand claims it will drive “like an EV” and be 70% electrically powered in town.
The same drivetrain but with a 9.8kWh battery will make the Captur SUV the first B-segment plug-in hybrid, with an electric-only range of 25 to 30 miles.
Van den Acker continues to see the Clio as the heart of the company’s range. “This is our soul,” he said.
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Join the debate
29 January 2019
I do wish that when a new Car is launched that they’d include a Human so as to get an idea of size, all very well giving dimensions but most of us would get a better idea with something we can relate to size wise, in theses pics it looks SUV size.