The recently introduced Renault Clio GT-Line is a sportier version of its lesser stablemates, but stops short of being an all-out performance machine. Does it strike the perfect balance between everyday usability and sportiness?
We Like: Punchy performance, comfortable ride quality, attractive interior and exterior design, lots of standard features
We Don’t Like: Cramped rear legroom, interior quality still no better than fair
- For more power: Consider the Opel Corsa 1.4 Turbo Sport priced from R276 200. With its 1.4-litre turbopetrol engine offering 110 kW and 220 Nm of torque, the Corsa Turbo Sport doesn’t lack punch and comes reasonably well-specced. More power doesn’t necessarily mean better performance; the Corsa is still slower to 100 kph than the Clio GT-Line with a claimed time of 9.6 seconds.
- The run-of-the-mill: Consider the Ford Fiesta 1.0T Titanium priced from R264 900. It’s powered by a 3-cylinder, 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine with 92 kW and 170 Nm of torque. The Fiesta is perhaps not as engaging as the Clio GT-Line, nor as pretty (its interior is outdated), but a new Fiesta is expected to arrive in South Africa next year which will keep this city runner in the game.
- Another French Rival: Consider the Peugeot 208 GT Line with its 3-cylinder, 1.2-litre turbocharged engine offering 81 kW and 205 Nm of torque. Priced at R284 900, the 208 is pricey but its specification is reasonable and loading bay marginally bigger than the Clio's.
The Clio GT-Line combines sporty styling with punchy performance and it comes well specced with features.
What is it?
Renault is increasingly seen as a "crossover brand" in terms of the South African market, but there's no question that the Clio is the French marque's most important non-crossover model... Following the introduction of the facelifted Clio late in 2016, this new GT-Line derivative was recently added to the range to offer buyers a dash of extra sportiness and driveability over the 3-cylinder Clios. Whereas the previous iteration of the Clio GT-Line was powered by a 66 kW/135 Nm 0.9-litre, 3-cylinder turbopetrol engine with an overboost function, this latest version ups the stakes with a more powerful 1.2-litre turbocharged engine with no less than 88 kW and 205 Nm of torque, coupled with a 6-speed manual transmission.
How does it fare in terms of…
Added exterior features give the Clio GT-Line a more purposeful look to match its sportier personality.
The Clio GT-Line is a good-looking vehicle and wears a number of accoutrements that distinguish it from the rest of the derivatives in the Clio range. Key features include a redesigned bumper with sporty-looking GT-Line scoops, striking LED headlights with C-shaped daytime running lights, 17-inch titanium grey alloy wheels, door protectors with titanium grey inserts, body-coloured mirror housings, a grey rear diffuser and a chrome tailpipe.
In our opinion, Renault has hit the nail on the head with the design of the Clio GT-Line. Its looks are not overly sporty (it would be unwise to oversell the car's performance potential), but it has enough presence to draw admiring glances. Few mid-spec B-segment hatchbacks have that ability…
Interior features and execution?
The interior is reasonably well-made and contrasting blue stitching and air vent surrounds add to the cabin's visual appeal.
The sporty theme is carried over into the cabin where you will find sufficiently bolstered partial cloth and leather sports seats with GT-Line embroidery. They are comfortable to sit in and the blue stitching on the seats, leather RS steering wheel, leather gear lever and handbrake provide pleasant colour contrast in an otherwise grey/black interior. Blue air vent surrounds are a nice touch and perceived interior build quality is good.
In terms of standard features, the Clio GT-Line comes well-appointed and buyers will find the 7-inch MediaNav touchscreen infotainment system to be both useful and easy to use. Your smartphone can be quickly paired via Bluetooth and there are USB and auxiliary ports for charging or connecting devices. Other standard features include cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, manual air conditioning, electric windows all round, electric folding side mirrors and a height-adjustable driver's seat.
Renault's MediaNav touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use and navigation is standard.
On the safety front, 4 airbags are fitted as standard, as is ABS with EBD, emergency brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control and hill start assist. Rear park distance control is fitted and for the family-orientated buyer, there are ISOfix child seats mounts on the rear backrest.
The ever-so-chic Clio GT-Line is said to offer 300 litres of packing space in its luggage bay, which is (and this may surprise a few people) bigger than the Ford Fiesta (276 litres) and Opel Corsa (285 litres). The rear seats fold down in a 60:40 split configuration, expanding the load area even further. The loading floor, however, isn’t flat as the rear seat creates a raised lip that will make loading of bulkier items more difficult.
The 60:40 split rear seats avail extra utility space, but the loading floor isn't flat, which might make the loading of bulkier items difficult.
The trade-off for the biggish luggage bay is, unfortunately, cramped rear legroom. Although this may not be of major concern on short inner-city commutes, it will certainly impact negatively on adult passengers' comfort on longer journeys. Kids, however, won’t have any reason to complain.
In terms of storage solutions, there are 2 somewhat oddly-sized cupholders up front as well as additional storage spaces ahead of the gear lever, as well as an unlidded dashboard recess located above the glovebox. Bottle holders are provided in all the door mouldings.
Performance and ride quality?
Renault loyalists will be happy to know that the adoption of a more powerful 1.2-litre turbocharged engine with 88 kW and 205 Nm of torque has contributed to a marked improvement in performance over the previous iteration of the Clio GT-Line.
The Clio GT-Line rides comfortably on most surfaces and with a bit more grunt, it's the Clio to have in the range, if you can afford it.
That’s not to say that the Renault's performance is stellar, not by a long shot, but we found the Clio GT-Line to be competent in cut-and-thrust driving conditions. It has more than sufficient power on tap for when you need to get a move on and although the 6-speed manual transmission is smooth in changing gears, the throws are perhaps a tad long. Suffice to say the Clio GT-Line gains pace quickly when driven with intent and it performs well on the highway, where overtaking manoeuvres can be executed without the need to constantly shift down by a ratio or 2.
Meanwhile, the test unit's ride quality proved impressive over less-than-perfect road surfaces, with little road and engine noise entering the cabin. On top of that, positive steering feel and sure-footed handling make the Clio GT-Line fun to drive on winding roads. This leads us to believe the Clio GT-Line is equally adept at being a comfortable daily runner while offering enough performance and dynamic ability to keep you otherwise entertained.
The Clio GT-Line will monitor your driving habits and offer advice on how to improve. We didn't score very well...
In terms of fuel consumption, Renault claims an average figure of 5.3 L/100km. We achieved in the region of 9.2 L/100 km during our test period, but to be fair, we weren’t trying very hard to bring that figure down and we are quite certain that figures below 8.0 L/100 km are achievable with a more considerate driving style. The Clio GT-Line does have an Eco button, that when activated, will prioritise fuel efficiency and help reduce consumption. You can also monitor your driving style and receive useful fuel-saving driving tips via the touchscreen display.
Pricing and warranty
The Renault Clio GT-Line is priced from R264 900 (June 2017) and is sold with a 5-year/150 000 km warranty, 3-year/45 000 km service plan and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty.
The Clio GT-Line is appealing because it punches above its weight... and not only in terms of performance. If you are looking for an alternative to the plethora of 1.0-litre 3-cylinder options on the market, the GT-Line offers better driveability by virtue of its tractable powerplant and, as a result, offers more driving enjoyment. But, in conjunction with that, the French hatchback's interior is aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and well-equipped.
Therefore, the Renault is worth considering if you are looking for a bit more style and performance, but can't/don't want to pay an exorbitant price for a hot-hatch. For R264 900, you get an attractive, flexible car packed with most of the features you'd want in a hatchback: it represents great value.
Watch our video review of the Renault Clio GT-Line and Clio RS Trophy below!
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