7

10

Model

TCe 90

Price

$16,790

The Numbers

898cc, turbo three-cyl, FWD, 66kW, 135Nm, 4.5L/100km, 105g CO2/km, 0-100km/h in 12.2sec, 1019kg

The Topgear Verdict

Despite a lack of outright grunt, it’s fun to steer, chock full of design-driven personality, and the price is sharp.

2013 Renault Clio TCe 90

So, what is it?
The TCe 90 is the entry point to Renault’s new fourth generation Clio line-up, powered by a 898cc three-cylinder engine, and puts the brand back into the sub $20K part of the market.

Why should I care?
This is a fresh Euro offering in one of the most hotly contested segments in the new car market. It’s going up against a slew of quality compact hatches like VW Polo, Mazda 2, Peugeot 208, Hyundai i20 and Ford’s Fiesta.

What's new about it?
The little 66kW/135Nm turbo triple is a fuel-sipping gem; effectively three quarters of the 120kW/190Nm 1.2-litre four powering the higher TCe 120 variants. The car is all new, it’s 100kg lighter than its predecessor, and the exterior design reflects Renault design chief, Laurens van den Acker’s new corporate face for the Renault brand. It also offers mega personalisation options, with wheels, as well interior and exterior trims pieces offered (ex-factory) in a wide range of funky combinations.

That's all nice. What's it like to drive fast?
It takes a bit of extra effort to get it moving from rest, but once you’re up and running, the engine is refined and pulls well from low revs (peak is 2500rpm). The ride is unbelievably good for a car with a 2.6-metre wheelbase, the (electrically-assisted) steering is beautifully weighted, and body control is super impressive. The (five-speed manual only) gear change is light and positive, and the engine note is a typically gruff three cylinder growl.

And driving from home to the office in the city?
Comfortable and composed. The interior design is ultra-slick, with a tablet-style centre console taking pride of place. The front seats are comfy, with good lateral support, and vision is excellent.

How much would I have to pay for one? And is it worth the coin?
Price for the base Authentique version is $16,790, with height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel, electric door mirrors, speed limiter, cruise control, and electric front windows standard. The more highly specified Expression ups the ask to $17,990.

Is there anything bad about it?
If you want a hot hatch, this ain’t it. Claimed 0-100km/h time is a leisurely 12.2sec, and its natural habitat is the urban jungle, although it stands up pretty well on the open road.

What about a hot version then?
A full-house Renault Sport variant (probably wearing the Gordini badge) is on track for local launch in January, 2014. It’s powered by a 147kW/240Nm, 1.6-litre turbo four, replacing the out-going version’s 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit. Renault Australia says the price will come down from the outgoing Clio RS’s $36,490 ask.

Would you take this or the VW Polo?
The base Polo 1.4-litre Trendline is $200 dearer, and it’s a nicely finished, dynamically excellent package. Powered by a 63kW/132Nm, 1.4-litre atmo four, it delivers almost identical performance to the Clio (as in, it’s slow), but crucially, offers a seven-speed dual clutch version for an extra $2500. Almost a flip of the coin decision. If you prefer more conservative design, go the Polo, but if you’d like a little more joie de vivre, the cool new Clio is for you.

Reviewed by: James Cleary

Driven: September 05, 2013