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Zut alors! It seems like just last week Nicole was parading her first-gen Clio in front of Papa, but Renault has just revealed the all-new, fourth generation of its city car.

The observant among you will notice the new Clio looks a damn site snazzier than its forebear. And, indeed, the rest of the manufacturer’s lineup. Laurens van den Acker, head of design and the man responsible for penning the new Clio, says that “Renault’s back” with this new model.

It’s inspired by 2010’s Dezir concept, which explains the huge Renault diamond front and centre, and the heavily curved ‘Coke bottle’ flanks. The Clio’s front, back and sides all carry baguettes of black plastic, with inserts that are gloss, body-coloured or chrome according to trim level.

Inside the prototype mock-up (the only car we’ve been allowed near), the dashboard looks rather un-French: according to LvdA, Renault’s learned a lot after working with Mercedes on the next Smart/Twingo. There’s a big tablet-style screen in the centre, loadable from launch with a choice of 50 apps. Nearly all of the cars, regardless of range, are internet-connected.

Engine-wise, everything looks a little downsized, but turbochargers are doing the job of capacity in the torque stakes, at least. There’s a new 899cc three-cylinder petrol, packing 90bhp and 99lb ft of torque, that scrapes under 100g/km, and a 90bhp diesel that goes down to 83g/km. Above those are a 120bhp turbo petrol and diesels up to 115bhp. These might sound a touch on the miserly side, but Renault’s managed to whittle as much as 110kg out of the Clio’s weight while maintaining the proportions of the outgoing car.

Now, the interesting bit. The Clio RenaultSport…

It won’t arrive until after the garden Clios - we saw a disguised prototype running up the Goodwood hill this weekend - but things aren’t looking too hot under the bonnet. Instead of the 2.0-litre petrol, it’ll run a 1.6-litre DI turbo - not as pant-tightening as the rev-happy petrol, but at least it lays claim to being a dim, distant relative of the Nissan DeltaWing lump.

There’s more bad news. There won’t be a three-door, and the RS doesn’t have the swollen arches of yore. Wheels are 18-inchers, the only major styling changes are big LED strips low down on an F1-style spoiler and a black roof with a rear spoiler. Hopefully the real work’s been undertaken at RenaultSport’s chassis lab: let’s face it, no matter how it looks, if it drives as sweetly as the outgoing Clio 200, we’ll all be happy.

But back to the stock Clio, TopGear.com. If your curiously specific French fairy godmother offered you the choice between this, and the new Peugeot 208, which would you take?

Now click forth and enjoy the pretty pictures…

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