Review: Why the 2017 Renault Clio GT-line is a popular hatchback
South Africa - The Renault Clio fast became a favourite in the South African market and has grown in popularity through the generations. Clio 4 has been around for a while now but Renault South Africa has not been sitting back on their laurels and has constantly tweaked and updated to ensure continued sales success.
Recently the range was increased with the launch of the GT-line version. Taking the engine up to a 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder instead of the 900cc, 3-cylinder version that's become familiar.
This brings a jump in power from 66 to 88kW plus an excellent 205Nm of torque. It very quickly takes the stylish smaller hatchback’s performance from average to a very warm hatch.
Having recently experienced the smaller engine in Renault’s Sandero Stepway, I found it adequate but certainly no ball of fire. Now along comes the GT-line with the ability to blow my hat off. I was very quickly impressed by the total lack of turbo lag. Power delivery is smooth and even throughout the rev range making overtaking a pleasure while imparting a knowing that the manoeuvre can be completed in safety.
From the outside the Clio GT-line shows its upgraded headlights and daytime running lights. A mild body kit plus a squared off exhaust at the rear hint that there is a bit extra on offer here. The interior also shows its intent very quickly. The obvious sports seats with prominent bolsters look the part and will hold you in place through fast corners.
The striped stitching continues with that theme. However, a word of caution here if you are endowed with a slightly wide body (human, not the car), then you may find the seats to be a tight fit! The steering wheel, with cruise control buttons, plus the familiar volume control behind the wheel, is nice and chunky and fills the hands comfortably.
A really sweet spot of the car is the ultra quick, but smooth and short shifting 6-speed gearbox. Another familiar Renault item is the functional touch screen infotainment system with navigation included. As always, the navigation is easy to operate and program which certainly helped me find my way around Cape Town for the test period.
The standard Renault key card system is a bit clumsy and in my opinion, a simple keyless go system in conjunction with the start button would make far more sense. In the interests of being a sporty version, the suspension and handling are a bit harder but certainly not uncomfortable and create confidence when pushing a bit on a twisty road.
Handling, fuel economy
I would rate the overall handling in the fun category. Fuel economy can always be a moot point when a car provides a fun factor. During 4 days and over 500km with the car, I certainly explored the performance and handling aspects. My overall figure of 8.0-litres/100km is probably approaching the worst consumption that owners could expect. Rear seat space is adequate for the category and the boot measures 256 litres with all seats in place.
Dropping all the rear seats increases this figure to around 730 litres. Rear legroom, using the sit behind self test, is fair and I would be comfortable if I was relegated to the rear. Most importantly, there is more than sufficient headroom even with my hat on.
One last personal criticism is that the neat and attractive rear shape does compromise rearward vision and I would appreciate a reverse camera being added to the infotainment system. The fact that the car has been awarded a 5 -star Euro NCAP rating also needs to be considered. Looking at the Clio GT-line overall, I tip my hat at the package with an emphasis on performance and handling.
Priced at R264 900, including a 3 year or 45 000km service plan there are a number of competitors. These include the Suzuki Swift Sport with 100kW, the Volkswagen Polo with 92kW, and the Hyundai i20 Sport with 85kW. All of these are similarly priced and would bear consideration but the continued popularity of the Clio range generally makes a strong case for this choice.