SEDUCTIVE with beautiful lines, the Renault Clio is a fashion statement.
Standing out from the compact hatch crowd, the clean design ensures the Clio appears more expensive than its $19,900 plus on-roads price-tag.
Updated models now in dealerships have the new C-shaped lighting signature (like the Koloes and Megane), gloss black features on the rear bumper, B-pillar and side door protectors as well as two-tone alloys which add elements of class.
Sitting second on the Clio specification rung, basics are sat nav with voice control, cruise control, seven-inch touchscreen, full bluetooth phone and audio streaming. The primary options are a sunroof for $1000 and metallic paint which costs and extra $550.
You can also choose whether to have the air vents in red, ivory or grey.
All models come with hands-free entry with smartkey, push button start, automatic dusk-sensing headlights and windscreen wipers with rain sensor, rear view camera, rear parking sensors, economy mode, electric windows and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
One absence in the list is Apple CarPlay and Andorid Auto, which provides brilliant smartphone mirroring functionality which is becoming commonplace in most vehicles. That said, the MediaNav is intuative and simple to operate.
French cars can take some integration lessons.
Take the driver's stereo controls, instead they sit on their own stubby stalk behind the steering wheel rather than being at your thumbtips. While well-labelled, you can't see it while you are driving, and you need to analyse the various buttons before getting underway.
And Renault maintains its credit card-looking key. It's bulky compared to some other keys, although you can leave it in your wallet or purse and simply hit the start button.
Another minor gripe is the size of the console cupholders. They're small, only able to handle one takeaway cup, while the door pockets are also slim and don't have bottle holders.
Yet it's an attractive cabin that has an upmarket feel which belies the price. Our family of four, with two growing boys, had no issue with the space despite the compact dimensions.
It also handled a weekly grocery shop with a good-size boot (bigger than a Mazda CX-3 or VW Polo) and its ease of parking cuts a swathe through the urban carpark. Rear seats fold 60-40 to deal with flat-pack furniture of sporting equipment.
Performance lives up to expectations of a light-car.
Don't be fooled by the turbocharger on the spec-sheet, it's hardly worthy of a quarter mile drag entry but neither will you be left sitting at the lights waiting for the power.
Once rolling the Clio is a well-balanced offering which is fun to drive. The dual-clutch automatic can be slow to change on occasions if you are really dropping the hammer, but we dare say most drivers won't be pushing the limit too often.
During hill climbs the Clio performed well and never felt breathless, like some cars in this genre can, and the 0-100km/h of less than 10 seconds proves its no slug.
Our drive saw the Clio sip 6.8 litres for every 100km, which was close to the official figure from Renault, albeit the little hatch needs premium unleaded.
Five stars comes courtesy of anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, electronic stability control, emergency brake assist and hill start assist which are all standard.
There is no automated parking available on this model, but you do have front and rear parking sensors.
A rear view camera is also standard but it can take 10 seconds for the vision to appear after shifting into reverse.
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Renault Clio Zen
ENGINE 1.2-litre turbo 4-cyl 88kW/190Nm.
TRANSMISSION Six-speed automatic.
THIRST 5.6 litres/100km (combined average).
0-100KM/H 9.4 seconds.
WARRANTY Five years unlimited kilometres with roadside assist.
CAPPED PRICE SERVICING Three services at $299 per service. Intervals are 30,000km or annual.