Renaults Clio3 Sets New Benchmark
Renault’s Clio 3 range, Europe’s Car of the Year for 2006, has made its South Africa debut in May 2006 with a choice of 3 engine options and seven model variants on offer to local motorists.
Clio 3’s soft, sensual lines incorporate more than a hint of dynamism, hinting strongly at its responsiveness & driveability. The front is dominated by a large air intake below the bumper, while the bonnet swage lines converge on the headlamps and Renault diamond logo to convey an expression of dynamic intensity. The bonnet, windscreen and A-pillars form a flowing curve into the roofline, ending with the pert rear hatch, while the waist swage lines converge at the bottom of the rear window in a vee, perfectly complementing the design of the taillights. Short overhangs and wide tracks front and rear give Clio 3 a robust, foursquare stance.
The carefully crafted interior is warm and welcoming, and can accommodate up to five people in comfort. The contours of the dashboard and centre console are soft and fluid, while the event controls bring to mind a squash ball, with their malleable tactility.
Great care has been taken in the choice of materials and builds quality for Clio 3. Close attention has also been paid to the way the various different materials fit together. The central fascia blends harmoniously with the dashboard assembly, while the glove compartment has been designed so that there is no play with the strip that separates it from the dashboard. The doors are fitted with panels that harmoniously extend the dashboard and provide additional rest for elbows.
The instrument cowl houses clear, legible instrumentation, while the centre console contains the vent/air conditioning and radio controls in an uncluttered, ergonomically pleasing layout. The radio display is remotely positioned in the centre of the dashboard.
In addition to its big car refinements, Clio 3 features the largest dimensions in its class, as well as cabin space and comfort standards worthy of higher segment hatchbacks. Occupant comfort was a central priority for Renault, and Clio 3 boasts a comprehensive list of equipment and features, some of which are new to this class.
Clio 3’s position as the benchmark in is class for interior space has not been achieved at the expense of manoeuvrability. The new car’s turning circle remains a low 10,3 m. Inside, Clio 3’s roominess is accentuated by the bright interior and its excellent all-round visibility, which represents a 10 percent improvement over that of its predecessor.
Given its compact exterior, Clio 3 boasts surprisingly generous headroom, while large door apertures make for easy access.
Luggage space is 288 litres, extending to 1 038 litres with the rear seats folded down and loading to roof level. The glove compartment capacity is 9,4 litres, the front storage bins have a capacity of 2,4 litres each, and are capable of holding a 1,5 litre bottle. The rear door pockets have a capacity of 1,0 litre, and there are additional storage drawers under the front seats.
Clio 3’s driving position is also one of the best in its class, with a height-adjustable steering wheel (reach adjustment is also fitted to some models) and the seat height adjustment controls falling easily to hand. The front seats themselves offer an excellent combination of support and comfort, the density of the foam in the cushions having been carefully selected for an optimum balance between the two.
Rear seat occupants also benefit from this attention to detail, with the rear seat cushion providing excellent lateral support. The rear seat is offered in either bench- or 60:40 split configuration according to model. The middle position of the latter is specially designed for children without the need for additional equipment, the shorter squab and raised condition catering specifically for children between the ages of six and ten.
The instrument panel is derived from that of Megane 2, and is available in two versions according to model. Placed in direct line of sight, it is easy to read, and the various display zones are clearly defined with different sized characters used to distinguish different types of information. On the Expression trim level, fuel level and engine temperature are displayed by two bar graphs in the onboard computer display. On Dynamique models, the onboard computer can display up to 70 messages, information being accessed by a two dimensional scroll function.
It will come as no surprise to learn that Clio 3 is also the class leader when it comes to acoustics. Special care has been taken in filtering out engine- or transmission-related noise as well as noise and vibration transmitted through the suspension. Engine- and cabin soundproofing and wind noise have also been the subject of special attention.
Clio 3 is also the first car in its class to benefit from hands-free card technology (optional on the Dynamique models). With the Renault hands-free card, vehicle mounted sensors automatically detect the presence of the users as soon as they come within 1,2 m of the doors. All that is required to unlock the car is a pull on the door handle. Once inside, sensors detect the presence of the card and allow the engine to be started without requiring it to be inserted into the reader; for safety, either the brake- or clutch pedal must be depressed while pressing the “start” button. Locking of doors is not automatic, but requires a touch of a button to one of the door handles or that of the rear hatch.
Derived from that of Megane 2, Clio 3’s suspension combines precise directional control with insulation from noise and vibration. Its long wheelbase, short overhangs and wide tracks provide excellent stability and handling.
The MacPherson-type front suspension and rectangular lower arm optimize road holding and comfort by decoupling longitudinal and transverse movements. The high degree of transverse stiffness so achieved enhances road holding and comfort by enhancing the car’s ability to absorb longitudinal forces. The front suspension is connected to an isolating subframe that helps to reduce the transmission of noise and vibration from the road.
The rear suspension features a torsion beam axle with coil springs, coupled with an anti-roll bar for optimal body control. The combination of efficient dampers and long suspension travel provides precise handling and excellent comfort. The use of elasto-kinematic materials in both front- and rear suspension systems helps soak up road imperfections and provide smooth, efficient chassis performance.
Clio 3 is fitted as standard with advanced variable-assistance electric power steering, with 16 assistance parameters for smooth, precise steering at all speeds.
Compared to its predecessor, Clio 3 is superior in terms of road holding, braking and dynamics. It incorporates the latest 8.0 Bosch ABS system with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA).
Cornering lights are fitted in conjunction with the black mask and chrome door handles in the Pack Look (standard on 3 door), switching on automatically at front wheel angles over 40 degrees from straight ahead at speeds up to 60 km/h.
Renault has always been at the forefront in the field of passive safety, and the Clio 3 continues this tradition, having scored a full five stars in the stringent Euro NCAP crash test programme.
Clio 3’s passive safety features include a number of programmed deformation zones front and rear, and a rigid cabin that forms a non-deformable survival cell, designed to function in conjunction with Renault’s third-generation System for Restraint and Protection. This includes up to eight airbags, including two adaptive front airbags with load limiter and double pre-tensioners for the front seats.
On five-door versions, protection of the pelvic region and combating the phenomenon known as submarining is dealt with by another pre-tensioner, which acts on the lap strap to hold the occupant in place. On three-door Dynamique, this role is played by an anti-submarining airbag in the front seat cushions.
The steering wheel has a deformable magnesium rim and a collapsible steering column, while a combination of padding, a thin metal sheet under the steering column and a brake pedal retracting system reduces the risk of leg injuries. The front seats also incorporate rear impact energy absorbing headrests and seat backs.
All three rear seats have anti-submarining structures built into the steel base under the seat cushion, and the outer seats have pyrotechnic pre-tensioners and load limiters. Three rear headrests are fitted, and the seat mounting points are reinforced to limit movement in an impact. A luggage retention bar is screwed to the floor at the base of the rear seat back, while aluminium side impact bars are fitted in the doors.
Four Isofix child seat mounting points are fitted to the rear seats and front passenger seat.
Clio 3 has been designed from the ground up to offer low operating costs and respect for the environment. Advances such as multiplex wiring for greater electronic reliability, improved anti-theft protection and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty contribute greatly to owner peace-of-mind.
Service intervals and oil changes are required every 15 000 km for petrol engines and 10 000 km for diesels, while spark plugs and air filters need only be changed every 30 000 km. Timing belts have a life expectancy of 90 000 km, while the diesel fuel filter needs replacing only every 10 000 km under normal driving conditions.
All engines offer low fuel consumption which is further enhanced by the electric power steering, which can represent a saving of between 0,2 and 0,3 l/100 km according to driving conditions.
To reduce repair costs (and thereby insurance costs too), Clio 3 features components specially designed to withstand minor impacts. The use of an aluminium profile for the front cross member and polypropylene for the rear beam greatly enhances the absorption of low speed impact energy. The use of these materials also facilitates repairs by achieving significant time savings compared to Clio 2.
Clio 3 also places emphasis on durability, as exemplified by the stainless steel exhaust system with a life expectancy of 10 years. The fully galvanised engine subframe and wax coated chassis box sections also contribute to impressive corrosion resistance.
Noise emission is increasingly becoming a concern for new cars, and Clio 3’s homologation figure of 71 dBa (72 dBa for diesels) is 3 dBa less than required by European legislation.
In order to lower CO² emissions, detailed attention has been paid to aerodynamics, reducing friction and weight reduction. Drag has been cut on Clio 3 by optimizing the design of the lower part of the new platform, which now incorporates a smooth floor, the fitting of additional fairings and deflectors and the use of a flexible front spoiler.
The use of very high tensile steel, aluminium, noryl and polypropylene for certain chassis- and body components has helped to contain weight while increasing safety and equipment levels. Clio 3’s aluminium bonnet, for example, is 50 percent lighter than an equivalent steel component.
Some 95 percent of Clio 3’s weight is recyclable without any compromise in quality or performance. The design of components with a view to their end-of-life recyclability has led Renault and its suppliers to develop innovative solutions and to integrate this parameter into the design process. The marking of parts has been expanded to facilitate recycling – plastic components of more than 100 g and rubber parts of more than 200 g are marked with a symbol indicating their composition, to facilitate the sorting of parts when a car is stripped at the end of its life.
Clio 3 also benefits from the latest developments in the area of anti-intrusion and anti-theft protection. The driver’s door lock incorporates a freely rotating barrel protected by a shield. All lock mechanisms are shrouded and are cable-operated, while the immobilizer utilises two-way interrogation and code-hopping technology.
For South Africa, Clio 3 is available in two trim/equipment levels dependent on engine size, each with a distinct personality.
On all Expression models, the upper part of the dashboard is finished in charcoal, with the lower part in light beige.
The soft touch upholstery is picked out with coloured dots, the same material covering the central fascia and separating strip between the top of the dashboard and the glove compartment lid.
From the outside, Expression models are distinguished by coloured-coded bumpers, black door handles, B-pillars and body side mouldings.
The Dynamique trim level features a dashboard finished completely in charcoal, with a satin chrome separating strip. The climate control display, gear lever base, vent controls and instrument dials are also framed in satin finish chrome. This trim level also features a so-called “slush” dashboard which is softer and suppler to the touch. The choice of 3D mesh blue and red mottled fabric upholstery reinforces the dynamic nature of this trim level. The exterior features colour-coded exterior mirror housings and B-pillars.
For more information, kindly contact Renault South Africa’s Communications Department:
Vice President: Communications
Tel : +27 11 607 7406
Cell : +27 82 455 9327
Hanlie du Preez
Media Relations Manager
Tel : +27 11 607 7306
Cell : +27 72 942 5511
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