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A case of carry on Clio!

Byline: By Malcolm Robertshaw

In the world of the family supermini, the competition is as hot as it gets in the UK motoring market.

That makes it all the more laudable when a fairly recent contender swiftly becomes the owner of an impressive array of silverware.

The original Renault Clio arrived on these shores in the spring of 1991, very quickly winning many fans with its willing engines and a supple ride.

In the latter part of the last decade, further makeovers saw the Clio grow up before the second generation arrived in the summer of 2001, the newcomer having adopted a bolder look.

Late autumn of last year heralded the arrival of the third-generation Clio in three-door guise, the five-door derivative arriving at the beginning of this year.

Since this new dawn, the Clio has amassed a highly-impressive collection of awards.

More than 8.5 million Clios have been produced since 1991, four million Clio I and 4.5 million Clio II and, since 1998, it has always been one of Europe's top three selling superminis.

Over the years, the previous Renault Clio earned industry and public applause for its competitive pricing, characterful cute design, wide range of choice and good safety features.

However, as time has moved on, many of its competitors now come bigger and bolder with more generous rear legroom and display superior refinement on the tarmac ( so change with sizeable improvements had to be introduced.

Today's Clio offers six engine choices ( three petrol in 1.2-litre 75bhp, 1.4-litre 98bhp and 1.6-lite VVT111bhp form and, with diesel economy coming courtesy of .5-litre 68bhp dCI, 1.5-litre 86 bhp dCI and 1.5-litre 106bhp, trim levels for the 3-door are Extreme, Expression, Dynamique and Dynamique S.

Standard kit levels are progressively more generous through the range.

The three-door entry level Extreme model includes electric front windows, alloy wheels and two-speaker sound system with CD player, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, remote central locking with deadlocks, Renault Anti Intruder Device (RAID), plus driver safety aids such as ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) as standard.

However, air conditioning, height-adjustable driver's seat, heated electric door mirrors and "see-me-home" headlamps don't kick in until the Expression model.

The three-door Dynamique derivative adds one-shot control for the electric front windows, rain sensitive wipers, heat reflecting windscreen, map reading light, delayed courtesy light and manual tilt glass roof.

There is a six-speaker sound system with CD, sport upholstery with carbon trim, aluminium finish, satin chrome inserts and door handles, sport headlamps, front fogs and dedicated cornering lights designed to broaden your vision by illuminating the front near side of the road as you take the bend.

The Clio Dynamique gives a good impression as you open the doors.

Gone is the old cheap seats image with 'soft touch' carbon dashboard with chromed instrument dial surrounds, nice fabrics and thoughtfully set out facia adding that certain touch of class.

The Clio's considerably larger dimensions have changed a somewhat cramped model into one of the roomiest in class, making life comfortable in every way for four adults, while ease of access on the three-door is surprisingly easy.

The new Clio also offers plenty of storage space while the boot capacity is 255 litres with all seats taken and 595 litres with the 60:40 split rear seats folded.

Despite a steering wheel which adjusts for height only ( it does combine well with the driver's wider range of seat height adjustments to provide a much improved driving position over the outgoing Clio.

The 1.4-litre petrol-engined Clio does its work in agreeable fashion, using its 98bhp well to take you from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds and provide a top speed of 115mph.

On average 42mpg should be possible.

Facts and figures

Make: Renault

Model: Clio 1.4-litre Dynamique three door

Price: pounds 10,935

Mechanical: 98bhp, 1,390cc 4cyp petrol engine driving front wheels via five speed manual gearbox

Max speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Insurance group: 4

Combined mpg: 42.2

CO2 emissions: 158g/km

BiK rating: 18%

Warranty: 3 years/60,000-miles, 3 years paint, 12 years anti-rust
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2006
Words:691
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