Mark Higgins’ first drive 2014 Renault Clio GT Premium review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
In a nutshell The Renault Clio GT Premium sits at the top of the revamped garden-variety Clio range, offering plenty of je ne sais quoi.
Practical Motoring Says The Renault Clio GT Premium is well built, delivers enjoyable levels of performance and comfort, and is keenly priced. The capped price servicing should appeal to those buying European (read: French) for the first time.
THE MID-RANGE Renault Clio GT is one of the newest members of the Clio family, having arrived here in April (read our launch review). We like the look of the Renault Clio GT, with its chrome grille and bumper mounted daytime running lights, together with the large swept-back headlights giving it a bold look. Side on shows its sculptured panels with silver inserts, flared rear quarter panels, steeply raked windscreen and tapered glass area. It also has 17-inch alloy wheels, side skirts, a rear spoiler and diffuser, unique bumpers, chrome twin exhausts and GT badging.
Inside, there’s comfortable, supportive black leather (heated) sports seats, a soft-feel leather trimmed sports steering wheel with GT badging and shift paddles. Hidden behind the wheel are the audio volume controls as well as audio/phone mode module. The instrument cluster has a central digital speedo, with a fuel gauge on one side, tacho on the other and the multi information display (operated via buttons at the end of the wiper stalk) in the middle.
Renault’s R-Link entertainment system sits proudly at the top of the console and controls the sat nav, reversing camera and audio and more. One option in R-Link I found was R-Sound Effect. A bit of a gimmick it was nonetheless fun to fiddle with. It allows you to alter the engine note of the car, on the inside at least, and choices include Renault’s famous rally cars, a Nissan GTR, a motorcycle and my favourite, an electric car whoosh sound that reminded me of the Jetsons. Sadly there wasn’t an F1 engine option and sadder still, the sound couldn’t be broadcast to those around you.
The sports seats provide plenty of support, while the reach and rake steering wheel offers enough adjustment to easily find your sweet spot behind the wheel. The instruments are easy to read and the controls, once you’ve found them, are within easy reach. Forward visibility is good but rearwards is a little more challenging with the large rear C-pillars and smallish rear window.
Rear legroom was very tight, despite this Clio having a longer wheelbase than its predecessor, though both shoulder and headroom were acceptable. Up front there was a decent amount of space for such a compact car. The luggage capacity of the boot was adequate (300 litres) and with the rear seats folded down, quite impressive (it grows to 1146 litres), though not in the same league as the ‘magic’ seats in the Honda Jazz.
Powering the Clio GT Premium is a 1.2-litre direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 88kW (at 4900rpm) and 190Nm (at 2000rpm) There’s only one transmission available; a sweet-shifting dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission which sends power to the front wheels only. While on paper the engine’s output isn’t high, on the road we found the engine quite lively and engaging. Fuel consumption is a claimed 5.2L/100km – it drinks 95RON.
If you want a little more performance you can press the R.S. Drive button down at the base of the gearlever. This changes the engine and gearbox mapping as well as the ESC and ASR power steering feel. It adds a good deal of zing with snappier gear changes and allows more revs between each. After one use, the R.S. Drive mode became the ‘default’ setting for all subsequent drives. What’s more, it didn’t damage the fuel economy and we averaged 7.2L/100km in our time with the Clio GT Premium.
The electric power steering is direct and provides good levels of feel with a turning circle of 10.6m. It’s nice and light when maneuvering through city traffic and weights up as speeds rise. Mounting the paddle shifts to the steering column rather than the wheel itself made plucking a gear with lock on difficult, and in some instances means having to take your hand off the wheel.
The longer wheelbase (compared to its predecessor) of 2589mm (up by 14mm) assists with comfort and ride while the wider track (34mm wider at the front) and (36mm wider at the rear) gives the Clio GT a good deal of mid-corner composure and agility. The Clio GT Premium offers a sporting ride that soaks up the bumps nicely and doesn’t jiggle about or lose its composure across broken surfaces. Handling is crisp, sharp and makes the Clio GT Premium enjoyable to drive for hours on end. Stopping duties are handled by front discs and rear drum brakes; the pedal action is nice and progressive.
The Clio GT Premium is well equipped for its $28,790 (+ORC) with standard fare including cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and start, automatic climate control, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, sports body kit, paddle shifts, the R.S. drive with normal and sport modes, 17-inch alloys and daytime running lights. Exclusive to the Clio GT Premium are the R-Link entertainment system with R-Sound Effect application, sat-nav and reversing camera, a fixed glass sunroof with shade cover, heated leather sport seats and a rear spoiler.
The Clio GT Premium offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and Renault’s Capped Price Servicing program of just $299 per calendar year for the first three years.
On the safety front, the Clio GT Premium has front, side and curtain airbags, anti-whiplash design headrests, ABS with Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Traction Control, Cruise control with speed limiter and Hill Start Assist. It has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.