New entry-level Clio
0.9 TCe engine 75 hp, 120 Nm
New entry-level Trend finish
Price from €15,300
The Renault Clio is still and always the best seller on the French market. Almost 104,000 sold over the first 10 months of the year, compared to 86,300 for its closest competitor, the Peugeot 208, which is on the second step of the national sales podium.
Suffice to say that Renault reserves the best treatment for it. Already, the deficits in terms of finish quality had been greatly improved with the 2016 restyling. he antique (yes, we can say antique today) four-cylinder 1.2 16v of 75 bhp gave way to the more modern 3-cylinder 0.9 TCe. Already well known under many bonnets of alliance vehicles, it only existed in 90 hp until now. Here is a “deflated” version of 15 hp, through a revised engine map. On the price side, it is 400 € more expensive than the old engine, but still saves 1,000 € compared to the TCe 90, with a price fixed at 15,300 € in Trend finish, which replaces the old one at the bottom of the range. Life, and which is, as we shall see, better equipped.
But why did you choose this TCe rather than the equally recent (or even more) 1.0 SCe 75 hp, used at Dacia on the Sandero for example? Reading the number in front of the word “Couple” on the data sheet certainly provides the answer. With its turbo, the 0.9 TCe 75 displays a consistent “120 Nm” at 2,500 rpm (down 20 Nm from the 90 hp, however) when the 1.0 SCe is content with a meager 97 Nm, which Renault has must have considered insufficient to move the Clio, heavier than the Sandero by 120 kg (1,090 kg against 969 kg). Especially since the old 1.2 16v already announced 107 Nm, but at 4,750 rpm.
Consistent performance and lower noise level
And since we are talking about engines, let’s immediately discuss the approval of this new entry-level. It must be recognized that this 0.9 TCe and its 75 hp are astonishing. Where the 1.2 16v was sluggish and asked to be whipped to give its best, the replacement rolls out its torque and power, however modest, from low revs. Accelerations are tonic from 2,200 rpm, and the first reports suggest that the power is higher than reality. We are not very far from the sensations provided by the 90 hp version! A feeling corroborated by the figures. The 0 to 100 km / h is swallowed in 12.1 seconds, the 1000 m DA traveled in 33.7 seconds. And the maximum speed (which seems optimistic to us) is set at 178 km/h.
Flattering figures, which place it far ahead of a Peugeot 208 1.2 Puretech 82 (0 to 100 in 13.5 s, 171 km / h maximum, and again, it is not the entry-level engine), further still ahead of a Ford Fiesta 1.1 70 hp (0 to 100 in 14.9 s, 160 km/h top speed) or a Volkswagen Polo 1.0 MPI 75 (14.9 s, 170 km/h). So many cars not equipped with a turbo, this also explaining that. Small flat, there is a lag time, both by pressing the right pedal and by releasing it, which creates unpleasant little jerks. Understand that the accelerator pedal is not very “responsive”.
In short, this entry-level Clio has breath. She loses it a little in 5th, a very long last report, which however has the advantage of lowering the noise level on the road and motorway. At 130 km/h, the 1.2 16v was spinning above 4,000 rpm, here we stay below 3,400 rpm. It is relaxing. It should also be noted that whatever the speed, the Clio 0.9 TCe 75 is very well soundproofed, even when accelerating. It looks like, on this criterion, in a car of the upper segment. This was not the case with the 1.2, brawler in the towers.
To continue with the good points, consumption remains contained. With a small 6.3 liters on average, looking cool, on varied routes including a few Parisian traffic jams, this Clio is well placed. We’re still above the official 5 litres, that’s obvious, but it’s reasonable. Even driving like a deaf, difficult to exceed the average 7.5 liters. In town in the big traffic jams of the capital, it is 8 liters. And with the light foot, we fall to 5.2 on departmental, sometimes rolling closer to the 90/95 than the current 80 (the usual, you know…). The competition, with some exceptions, is less efficient by 0.5 liters on average. However, the Clio with the same block in the 90 hp version does just as well. A new proof that when the horses are few, you press more on the right pedal, and consumption suffers.
Doctor Jekyll in the country, Mister Hyde in town
All these positive aspects have a downside, which appears clearly as soon as one leaves the roads and highways, to enter an urban area. There, it is the disaster… Ok, the word is a little strong, but sincerely, the Clio loses its superb. With slow traffic and traffic jams, the 0.9 TCe 75 reveals another face. His approval takes a big hit. In accordion traffic, or between two traffic lights, it appears to be very hollow under 2,000 rpm and with a power that arrives in a very brutal way. Difficult to dose well, you have to play with the clutch almost all the time to erase the jerks. On small accelerations, and when releasing the pedal, it is impossible not to feel these. This gives the impression of a capricious or poorly calibrated injection. It’s a pity, very pity… And above all, unpleasant.
At idle, the 3-cylinder is also very vibrant, and shakes as rarely. Fortunately, the stop & start is effective and allows you to avoid this phenomenon most of the time. Phew.
Another bad point that appears in town: the dryness of the suspensions. Yet placed on small 15-inch rims with high sidewall tires, the Clio, so gifted on the road with a good comfort / behavior compromise, becomes dry on the fittings, shakes on the cobblestones and seems very stiff. This is not prohibitive, but surprising. That said, a lot of city cars suffer from the same ailment, the 208 in mind. Only the Citroën C3 remains soft in all circumstances.
In any case, and to come back on the positive, the management is pleasant, well calibrated, in town and on the road. Braking is (very) effective, despite a drum rear axle, there is just a significant mass transfer to the front. Maneuverability is good, with a short turning radius, which makes maneuvering easier. The gearbox is well staged and the control flawless.
Passengers are also well settled and have a nice space in the back, while luggage will find its place in the 300 liters of trunk without too many problems. Some recent competitors are certainly better (Seat Ibiza 355 liters, Polo 351 liters), but that’s enough.
A presentation far from poor
On the presentation side, this entry-level is of course less flattering than the most upscale versions. The R-Link system screen is absent, replaced by a small non-touch monochrome screen. The steering wheel is plastic, the upholstery basic, the rear windows manual and the driver’s window loses its impulse function. Outside, these are hubcaps that dress 15-inch sheet metal rims “only”.
But the Clio is still doing honorably. The mirrors and door handles are painted in body color, the daytime running lights are LED, a chrome strip crosses the grille and is displayed on the door protections. So many things that the old 1.2 16v Life was deprived of, certainly less expensive by €1,200. And the latter was also deprived of air conditioning. Equipment now present on this Trend. But that’s not all, apart from a prettier presentation and air conditioning, the Trend also adds an MP3 radio with Bluetooth and USB socket, which goes with the R&Go application. Downloaded to their smartphone, itself installed on the integrated support, it allows, in connection with the radio set, to use their telephone as an extension of the radio. And to display the on-board computer, eco-driving figures, contacts, read SMS aloud, but also to use Waze or another application called CoPilot for guidance. In short, it’s not so bad, and compatible on Android and iOS, and most phones (your servant’s not, unfortunately, for some reason).
On the other hand, be aware that with the phone installed on its support, many radio buttons become invisible or inaccessible. Finding another place for the support (or the buttons!) was a good idea.
The rest of the staffing of this entry level is consistent with what is done today. Hill start assist, tire pressure alert, cruise control/speed limiter, electric front windows, 6 airbags, ESP, electric and heated mirrors, remote control central locking, 2/3-1/3 folding bench seat (forming a large walk in the trunk). The competition, when upgraded to equivalent equipment, is generally at the same rates. A Volkswagen Polo, for example, is €14,890 in the 1.0 MPI 75 Trendline, but without air conditioning. With, you have to add 535 €. Only the Ford Fiesta stands out for good (14,550 € and even better equipped, but with poor performance), and the Peugeot 208 for bad (16,000 € in 1.0 68 hp and 17,000 € in 1.2 82 for performance that is still lower). The Citroën C3 appears to be €1,550 less expensive, but you have to automatically add €1,000 to equip it with air conditioning and €450 for Bluetooth and the USB socket.
We can say that the city car with the diamond is ultimately well placed in the category, because its performance is in any case superior.