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Renault Clio III

Broadcast dates : 22nd January 2006
28th January 2006

Speak to a top designer of any motor manufacturer today and chances are the term DNA will be mentioned. In a car design context this is the essence of a marqueís identity.

The skilled designer will tap into this unique "something" that defines a carís heritage and then bring it to the surface in ever new and interesting ways.

In the case of Renaultís design team and the third-generation Clio, the challenge was to incorporate not only the new knife-edge lines on the current Megane and Modus, but to push the envelope further.

Conversely, another challenge was to retain the Regie Renault DNA, so that the most popular Renault was still very much a Clio.

At Renault's French plant and another coming on stream in Turkey, thousands of Clios are produced on a daily basis on highly automated production lines.

With the new Clio it was vital to maintain the quality standards of the second-generation car.

An indication that this was achieved was illustrated when the Clio was named the 2006 European Car of the Year.

The Clio was also awarded a five star European N-Cap safety rating, this being the eighth Renault model to achieve this prestige.

The Renault group, which includes Nissan and other smaller brands, is expected to build some 2,6 million vehicles this year.
Stylistically, the new Clio is, if anything, more conservative than recent offerings from the stable. It does without the distinctive reverse-slant rear end found on the larger Megane hatch, but the roofline is quite steeply raked towards the rear.

The car is bigger in all vital areas, and the wheelbase has been increased to free up interior room.

The nose of the car benefits from a flowing line through from the top of the windscreen to the headlight clusters.

In Europe the Clio was launched with engines ranging from 1,2 litres to 1,6 litres in petrol form, and with a 1,5 litre diesel engine.

The complete new Clio engine line-up is similar to the one used on the current models on sale in South Africa.
Power figures are slightly up on the petrol models. However, with larger dimensions the new car is heavier, due in part to the extra safety equipment that enabled such a good N-Cap result.
Renault is noted for its excellent diesel engines, and recently showed off a new 2 litre diesel with very sophisticated injection, built as part of the Nissan Renault alliance.

The 1,5 common rail turbodiesel engine used in the Clio comes in three states of tune, and the most potent is rated at 63 kiloWatts and 200 Newton Metres, which it produces at 1900 rpm.

The diesel model is expected to be especially popular, particularly at Highveld altitudes where turbocharging makes all the difference. Lets hope we get the 63 kiloWatt version in the new Clio.
Renault has paid particular attention to emission levels on its new range of diesels while still achieving excellent performance for a small engine. Itís expected that the 1,5 Dci will accelerate to a 100 km/h in around 12 seconds and comfortably top the 170 km/h mark.

With increasingly stringent laws having come into effect in Europe this year, as well as diesel taxes payable in some countries, one of the most important features on modern diesels is the particulate filter, which does a similar purifying job that a catalytic converter does on a petrol engine.

Renault had stiff price increases when the second-generation Clio was launched in South Africa a few years ago and sales suffered as a result.

Now under direct French management, itís unlikely that the same policy will be followed again.

Prices are expected to range from around the R110 000 mark to about R140 000  for the diesel model, as well as the 82 kiloWatt 1,6 litre petrol range-topper.

While servicing costs are not Renaultís strongest suit, its reputation for building quality cars with flair will no doubt ensure that the Clio 3 will be an instant in South Africa too.

Itís expected that the new Clio range will arrive here in April or early May. And as in Europe, Renault SA is likely to offer the lower priced Clio 2 for sale for some months after the new model goes on sale.
One of the most successful performance-car launches in recent years was the Renault Sport event, a launch which saw hot versions of both the Megane and Clio 2 make a fantastic impact.

Many pundits actually preferred the naturally-aspirated Clio to the turbocharged Megane RS, as they felt it was the better-balanced machine.

Itís still too soon to expect a Renault Sport version of Clio 3, but in the mean time Renault has whetted our appetites with this Concept version.

And judging by the fact that itís very much a running example, itís reasonable to suppose that the production Clio Renault Sport will be pretty much like this one.

Renault have released very few details on the car, but itís fitted with a 2 litre multivalve engine, and probably puts out a bit more power than the 131 kiloWatt engine fitted to the current car.

Drive is through the front wheels, as before, and the engine and gearbox will be carried in a special sub-frame to provide plenty of rigidity.

Tyres are 215 by 40ís on 18 inch rims, and brakes, cross-drilled and vented, are four-pot Brembos.

Chrome and leather is the dominant interior theme, and letís hope Renault sticks to this vibrant theme for the production car, as the previous Clio RS had a rather dull interior.

Things are brightened up by lots of chrome, and white-faced dials with unusually large easy-to-read numerals

Itís good to see that Renault havenít gone for the electro-hydraulic clutch paddle-shift route on the Clio Sport.

Above all this will be a driverís car, and many enthusiasts are returning to fully manual gearboxes after dabbling as F1 wannabees.

The new Clioís lines suit the sport treatment beautifully and those large alloy wheels flesh out the body in a most becoming fashion.

Hereís looking at you, Clio.
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