Renault's Clio GT Line offers sharp styling teamed with a roster of economical engines. Jonathan Crouch reports
Ten Second Review
The Renault Clio GT-Line offers many of the styling cues of the racy Renaultsport cars teamed with a rather more sensible engine. Sheep in wolf's clothing? Not a bit of it. The GT-Line gets the sport chassis and R.S. Drive controller, so it's far more than just a cosmetic job.
Compromise needn't always be a dirty word. When you pause to consider it, very little in our lives is governed by absolutes. Most decisions we make, products we buy and actions we take are governed by compromise; that essential balancing of often wildly divergent demands. It's what drives the car markets too. You might consider yourself a fairly keen driver but chances are compromise has meant that you don't drive a Caterham Superlight. You probably need more seats, greater reliability, a bit of weather protection and the feeling that you'd remain broadly in one piece if you had an enthusiastic indiscretion. So you compromise.The Renault Clio GT-Line is a car that manages compromise extremely well. Here you have a car with all the modern touchy-feely economy and emissions ability coupled with a delightfully unreconstructed attitude to styling and handling. In short, it's a very savvy way in which to get your motoring jollies.
There's quite a bit of Dieppe in the DNA of this the five-door Clio GT-Line TCe 120 EDC. Renaultsport has tuned the chassis such that there's much the same feel as the pocket rocket Clio Renaultsport 200 EDC. Yes, the EDC in both cars' nomenclature stands for Efficient Dual Clutch. Poking out from behind the steering wheel in this Clio GT-Line are a pair of column-mounted shift paddles used to command a six-speed manual box endowed with rather swift reflexes. Performance is briskish rather than concussive. This powertrain offers up 190Nm of torque, with a top speed of 121 mph. Against the stopwatch, the sprint to 62 mph is achieved in a respectable 9.9 seconds. The major plus point remains that Renaultsport-derived chassis. The Sport Chassis is standard and features 40 per cent stiffer dampers and specific stops. There's also R.S. Drive. This system offers two driving modes (instead of three on the proper RS Clio), Normal and Sport. Pressing the button sharpens up the car's responses, including the engine and gearbox mapping, ESC settings, steering feel and throttle pedal response. Selecting Sport mode shaves 30 milliseconds off of the already impressive shift time of 200ms for the gearchange. It also retains the multi-change down function of the 200 Turbo EDC, operated by clicking and holding the downshift paddle. You're starting to get the message now. This is no mere chicken wire grille and chrome tailpipe job.
Design and Build
The styling of the GT-Line features quite a few funky Renaultsport design cues, from its grille, GT front and rear bumpers and specific rear lip spoiler, to its side sills, offset LED daytime running lights, twin chrome exhaust tailpipes and GT badging both front and rear. Rounding off the package are 17-inch anthracite GT alloys, together with co-ordinating anthracite door mirrors and rear diffuser. In the unlikely event that these alterations still don't distinguish it enough from other versions, the optional Malta Blue paint finish certainly will. Renault didn't blow all the styling budget on the exterior bits either. Indoors you'll find dark carbon GT upholstery, matched with details picked out in chrome and gloss black. A GT leather steering wheel with badging, Renaultsport seats with additional side support, aluminium-capped pedals, steering column-mounted gearshift paddles and specific instrument backgrounds all proclaim that this is no simple shopping hatch. Anthracite surrounds for the air vents, gearlever gaiter, plus inserts for the gearlever and door panels also give the car an air of exclusivity. One thing this five-door car does have in common with humbler brethren is the sheer amount of space inside. There's room for adults in the back and the boot measures 300-litres, rising to 1146-litres when the rear seats are folded.
Market and Model
You'll need a budget of around £17,500 for this car, just over £1,500 less than you'd pay for the 'full-fat' Clio Renaultsport 200 model. For that amount of money, it'd be reasonable to expect quite a bit of gear and we doubt too many would be disappointed by what the GT-Line delivers. Buyers get a seven-inch touch screen R-Link multi-media system with integrated TomTom Live satellite navigation and three months TomTom Live Services subscription, as well as access to the Application Store and Eco Driving Menu. The set-up also provides 4x35W Arkamys audio with 3D sound, Bluetooth, USB and hands-free technology and Renault Bass Reflex system, two tweeters and fingertip remote controls. Plus there's a hands-free card for entry and ignition and air conditioning is standard. Safety provision is well up to scratch, with anti lock brakes and a raft of electronic aids including Electronic Stability and Traction Control, and Hill Start Assist specified as standard equipment. There are a few tempters reserved for the options list including a reversing camera, fixed glass panoramic sunroof and also leather upholstery with heated front seats.
Cost of Ownership
Renault has made a firm commitment to driving down the cost of motoring and even this sports-oriented Clio comes up with some impressive economy and emissions figures. Fuel economy is rated at 54.3 mpg on the combined cycle and carbon dioxide emissions are only 120g/km, meaning zero road tax in the first year. One of the big advantages of this car is that its insurance rating is also a manageable 14E, fifteen groups lower than the fully-fledged Renaultsport Clio 200 model. It's also two groups lower than the equivalent Citroen DS3 and three lower than the similarly-powered MINI Cooper. The Clio features a number of efficiency measures including an ECO mode which allows drivers to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent by modifying the car's performance parameters at the push of a button. A driving style monitor (green, yellow or orange) and a Gear Change Indicator (GCI) on the dashboard allow owners to improve their driving style to cut their fuel consumption. The Driving eco?? app available through Renault R-Link provides drivers with information, helping them to analyse their driving style and take corrective measures in order to reduce their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Young people claim to have it tough these days. As if it's bad enough that their every indiscretion now gets plastered all over the world wide web where it remains in perpetuity, they're also hammered by insurers when it comes to car choices. Against this background, the Renault Clio GT-Line TCe 120 EDC is a smart choice. It looks great, it handles sharply, it produces all the right numbers in terms of economy and emissions, yet is relatively easy to insure. Having pondered this car, I'm not too sure that young people really do have it that bad. I can't think of too many of my 17-year old compadres who drove a spanking new Renault hatch. We had to make do with bangers that only scraped through an MoT because the tester was a drinking mate of your uncle's. A catastrophic suspension failure was character forming. Times change though and the Clio GT-Line is everything our first cars weren't. Progress? In truth, I'm just envious.