The Renault Clio is a stylish and fashionable city car that initially offered a modern turbocharged engine and a wealth of equipment. What it lacked was an automatic gearbox, which Renault has addressed with this new model.
There’s a lot to like about the Renault Clio. As a consequence of a reasonably thrifty turbocharged engine, generous levels of specification and a decent pricetag, the Renault Clio has sold well in South Africa. We’re a fussy bunch however, and the trend towards automatics is ever increasing. Unfortunately Renault hasn't had an automatic in the Clio until now and this allowed Volkswagen, Ford and Hyundai to grab hold of this particular segment.
Engine and Gearbox
This is the Renault Clio 1.2 EDC. Unlike its Clio siblings, this one has an uprated 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine as opposed to a 0.9-litre three-pot. Power is rated at 88 kW, while torque comes in at a useful 190 Nm. Fuel economy is quite good too with a claimed rating of 5.2L/100km. In reality, we were achieving around the 7.5L/100km mark.
Then there’s the focal point of this story: the transmission. Renault has its own twin-clutch transmission. It’s called EDC (Electronic Dual Clutch) and this system has been received with mixed opinions by the journalists for this very website. The EDC ‘box neutered the wildchild RenaultSport Clio and there’s a distinct lack of involvement and responsiveness. This is a "normal" Clio, however, and the requirement for sharp responses is therefore significantly less.
The gearbox is a six-speed dual-clutch and there are no paddles located behind the steering wheel. First impressions are mixed. Off the line, there’s plenty of hesitation, but once you’re moving it’s fine. Gearshifts aren’t the smoothest though, but we’d put this down to being spoilt by the excellent DSG transmission from Volkswagen Group.
Ride and Drive
Once you’re moving and in the right gear, the Clio drives well and makes full use of its hefty torque to make open road cruising rather pleasant. The car is more responsive and much more enjoyable to drive when you have the gear selector pushed into the manual mode, which then overrides the automatic functionality. You then change gear by pushing the lever up and down, much like a race car's sequential transmission.
The rest of the Clio impresses, too. It has a mildly sporty drive and the ride is comfortable. The Clio is kitted out with 16-inch alloys and tyres with plump sidewalls, and the suspension does a reasonable job of soaking up bumps. Despite the rear wheels having drum brakes, stopping power is good and you feel safe when throwing out the anchors.
Renault has never been shy when throwing equipment into the Clio and the 1.2 EDC Expression also comes well equipped. The standout feature is the touchscreen infotainment system which also features satellite navigation with traffic safety features. There’s USB, Aux and Bluetooth connectivity which can all be operate by controls located behind the steering wheel. They’re quirky to use at first, but soon become second nature. Cruise control with a speed limiter is thrown in as well, and the air conditioner does a fine job of keeping you chilled in the summer heat.
Being a Renault, safety is a high priority and this particular Clio comes with many features to keep you safe. There’s stability control, ABS and four airbags fitted as standard. The vehicle also scored 5 stars in the Euro NCAP crash test. It’s interesting to note that in terms of rivals, the Honda Jazz has six airbags, while the Volkswagen Polo has the option of six.
The cabin itself is a nice place to be and the ergonomics are good. Materials used do feel a little cheap and there are some areas where you feel disappointed in the tactile nature of the interior. That said, you’re not paying that much money for a well-equipped car of this nature so we’d be prepared to cut it some slack.
Summary and conclusion
Having an automatic model in a popular segment is a no-brainer and it’s strange that Renault waited so long to introduce it. While the gearbox itself is not exactly cutting edge or groundbreaking, it gets the job done and those who require an automatic gearbox in a stylish city car are unlikely to find fault with it.
In summary, the Renault Clio EDC is not the best automatic compact car, but it’s the best Renault Clio. If you’re wanting a slicker transmission, then look to the Volkswagen Polo TSI, but be prepared to pay substantially more. The Ford Fiesta 1.0T has the most the powerful engine out of these three, but it too is more expensive than the Clio, with less features.
Renault Clio 1.2 EDC Price in South Africa
The Renault Clio 1.2 EDC retails for R234 900 and the price includes a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty, 6-year anti corrosion warranty. Service intervals are every 15 000km and you get a 3 year/45 000km service plan.
Test team opinion
The Clio automatic is a solid addition to the range. The 1.2 adds a bit more fizz to the drive and the automatic makes it easier in traffic. Renault would do well to upgrade the dual-clutch system though, as it can be slow to get moving and jerky at times. -Ashley Oldfield
We Like: Design, specification, engine, price
We don’t Like: Some minor trim quality issues, gearbox is not as responsive as rivals
Also consider: Ford Fiesta 1.0T Titanium automatic, Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI Highline auto, Honda Jazz 1.5 Dynamic auto