A brisk scoot for not too much loot

Clio GT Line com­bines go-fast looks with brisk per­for­mance and an ap­peal­ing price

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORING - JA­SON WOOSEY

LIKE the Volk­swa­gen Polo R-Line and Suzuki’s Swift Sport, Re­nault’s new Clio GT Line com­bines go-fast looks with rea­son­ably brisk per­for­mance for a lot less money than you’d spend on one of to­day’s hard­core hot hatches. Kind of like yes­ter­year’s hot hatches, but with to­day’s com­fort lev­els.

In its lat­est, i.e. facelifted, guise, the Clio GT-Line grad­u­ates into this warm-per­form­ing class thanks to a big­ger and perkier engine that fi­nally does the racy styling some jus­tice.

In­deed, the ad­ven­tur­ously-styled fourth-gen­er­a­tion Clio has al­ways looked the hot hatch part, even in some of its hum­blest con­fig­u­ra­tions. Whereas ri­vals such the Polo lean to­wards a smarter and more pre­sentable kind of de­sign aus­ter­ity that would suit a wider range of buy­ers, the Clio is unashamedly youth­ful, sexy and not in­tend­ing to grow up any time soon thank you very much.

The GT-Line takes that a step fur­ther with its own de­sign pack­age that in­cludes a unique front bumper, chrome tailpipe and 17” ti­ta­nium grey al­loy wheels, colour matched by the fog­light sur­rounds, mir­rors, door pro­tec­tion strips and dif­fuser.

Yet un­like the pre­vi­ous Clio GTLine, the lat­est version has some go to match the show, ditch­ing the pre­vi­ous 66kW/135kW 898cc three-cylin­der tur­bopetrol for a 1.2-litre four-pot turbo unit that’s good for 88kW and 205Nm. It’s mated to a smooth-shift­ing six-speed man­ual gear­box.

The 1.2 engine pro­vides sat­is­fy­ing per­for­mance, with no dis­cern­able lag off the mark, brisk ac­cel­er­a­tion through the rev range and ef­fort­less over­tak­ing abil­ity.

Granted, this is not a per­for­mance car. Yet un­less you have the kind of per­for­mance hunger that only an RS-badged hot­tie could sa­ti­ate, it’s un­likely that this engine is go­ing to leave you want­ing. In fact the GT-Line is one of the fastest cars you can buy for the money, that be­ing R264 900 in this car’s case, with Re­nault claim­ing a nine-sec­ond 0-100km/h sprint and 199km/h top speed.

As for fuel ap­petite, our car sipped around 8.2 litres per 100km in a rea­son­ably brisk mix­ture of ur­ban and ru­ral driv­ing. If you’re look­ing to bet­ter that, the Clio does of­fer an Eco but­ton which toys with the engine man­age­ment to ben­e­fit econ­omy, and the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem has an eco coach­ing func­tion that scores you for ac­cel­er­a­tion, gear­ing and an­tic­i­pa­tion.

The Clio’s sus­pen­sion is a tad firm, and while its bump-ab­sorp­tion is still on the com­fort­able side of the equa­tion, it’s not ex­actly the soft­est-rid­ing car in its class. It cor­ners neatly, how­ever, with that typ­i­cal front-wheel-drive un­der­steer at the limit, and the steer­ing pro­vides ad­e­quate feed­back.

Per­haps un­der­scor­ing its po­si­tion­ing as a more emo­tional than ra­tio­nal choice, the Clio is not the most prac­ti­cal hatch in its class when it comes to rear legroom in that an adult or large teen, be­hind an av­er­age driver, will have their knees dig­ging into the front seat. Yet Re­nault is not ex­actly tar­get­ing fam­ily buy­ers with big kids here and there’s still lots of space in the boot for your junk, 300 litres to be pre­cise, mak­ing it among the big­gest in its class.

The in­te­rior de­sign is also in keep­ing with the car’s sporty per­sona. Front oc­cu­pants sink into a pair of grippy sports seats with bright stripes and GT-Line em­broi­dery. While the huge bol­sters pro­vide plenty of sup­port, larger oc­cu­pants will find them a bit tight to squeeze into com­fort­ably.

Ad­di­tional GT-Line decor comes in the form of an RS-style leather steer­ing wheel and al­loy gear knob as well as a hand­brake lever with blue stitch­ing. Most of the in­te­rior ma­te­ri­als are of a good qual­ity, but over­all it’s still more sporty than classy in here and the de­sign is a lit­tle fussy.

Like most of the Clio range, your com­mand cen­tre is the 17.8cm Me­di­aNav touch-screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, fea­tur­ing in­te­grated sat­nav, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and a four­s­peaker au­dio sys­tem. The GT-Line is also fit­ted with cruise con­trol, rear park dis­tance con­trol, auto lights and wipers, ESC sta­bil­ity con­trol and four airbags (front and side, but no cur­tains). VER­DICT While oth­ers in this class are try­ing to do the grow­ing up thing, los­ing some charisma in the process, the Clio is hell-bent on keep­ing its cap fac­ing back­wards and post­ing saucy self­ies on In­sta­gram. If we’re on that page, the up­graded GT-Line hits a sweet-spot with its racy looks, am­ple fea­tures and lively per­for­mance for the R264 900 price tag.

The GT-Line’s racy looks now come pack­aged with a will­ing 1.2-litre turbo engine.

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