BEAR with, as Miranda Hart might say, while I get a bit misty-eyed about the Renault Clio. This car has permeated my dreams since I spotted an old gent in Kensington driving a classy green Clio RT with tan upholstery two decades ago.
Why get excited about a Clio? Well it is one of the most successful super minis ever made. But that’s not the reason. There was something about this old gentleman dressed in his tweeds and with his soft brown felt hat and rolled brolly on the back shelf that conjured up motoring of a bygone age. I told you I was getting dewy eyed. (Maybe in him I could see myself 20 years on — which actually is about now!) Anyway, what brought this on was this week’s drive, the new Renault Clio GT-Line, which as you would expect is a far cry from the Clios of old. But more of that later. What has preoccupied me this week from being with this Clio is the influence various cars can have on you after one single, solitary sighting.
It is, without getting too prosaic about it, a moment of revelation and might still explain why despite the often onerous task we face every day of getting from A to B in cars many of us still love them to bits.
After I saw that green Clio RT in London I must have parked that image somewhere in my subconscious until years later I actually went out and bought a similar one and cherished it until it “had to go”.
You know that time when a car becomes a tad embarrassing to remain in the family and on the drive. Not my decision, I hasten to add, because I would probably still have that same Clio to this day, lovingly restored, and kept under wraps. Not sensible I know because you have to have deep pockets to own any sort of classic car, even a modest, modern one.Of course the New Clio GT-Line (from Renaultsport) I have been driving this week is a far cry from my original Clio — and why not? Once a carmaker proves a particular model is a winner there is no end to the variants they might develop in its name.
Thus this fourth-generation Clio comes with built-in sophistication and sportiness. My overwhelming impression of it was that it performs like a much bigger and more prestigious car: it drove beautifully on the motorways in what were atrocious conditions. Even at top speeds the Clio stepped up to the mark leaving me feeling confident of driving it in any road conditions. That is always the mark of a good car: one that not only can perform economically and easily on urban runs but can generate confidence in the driver during the sometimes unnerving conditions of motorway driving.
This Clio was also nicely finished. So its interior was comfortable and appealing while its exterior lines were sporty and compact. I liked the “coupé”-like look where although a five-door car, the rear door handles are blended into the bodywork to give a much smoother appearance.
There are driving options from the new Clio’s paddleshift controls to its Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) gearbox. If you like driving an automatic I recommend you try a car fitted with the EDC box. It’s incredibly smooth, cutting out the juddering and lurching you get from some automatics.
When you want to switch on the sporty side of the Clio you press the RS Drive button to select ‘Sport’ mode and get the best from the 120 HP turbo engine.
New Renault Clio GT-Line 120 EDC
– On-the-road price: £17,395
– The GT-Line signature includes integrated daytime running lights, 17in GT alloy wheels, F1 inspired rear diffuser and twin chrome exhaust.
– The GT-Line design cues continue on the inside of the car with GT dark carbon cloth sports seats and GT kick plates.
– New GT-Line also comes with new technology such as Renault R-Link multimedia system including 7in integrated touchscreen, with TomTom® Live satellite navigation, application store, Bluetooth® and USB connectivity.
– There is also 3D Arkamys radio and the Renault Bass Reflex sound system for greater sound clarity on MP3 players.