New 2019 Renault Clio uncovered at Geneva with mild-hybrid option

Engine options for the all-new Renault Clio supermini have been revealed at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show

The new Renault Clio will have a mild-hybrid option, the French manufacturer has confirmed, as it revealed full technical details on its all-new supermini at the Geneva Motor Show.

The fifth generation of the French Ford Fiesta rival was shown in detailed computer renderings last month. But Geneva marks its public debut in the metal, and Renault has used the debut to issue more specs on the new model’s technical profile, including its electrified option.

• All the latest from the 2019 Geneva Motor Show

The new car’s engine line-up will start with a three-cylinder, normally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol which produces 75bho and 95Nm and is paired with a five-speed manual gearbox. Then there’s a turbocharged 1.0 unit, called TCe, with 99bhp and 160Nm of torque – useful gains on the TCe 90 unit that it in effect replaces. This engine will be offered with the five-speed manual too, although it will also be available with Renault’s X-tronic ‘stepped CVT’ transmission.

The range-topping petrol motor will be the 1.3-litre TCe 130 GPF, a four-cylinder unit producing 129bhp and 240Nm of torque. It’ll be available with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox only – and it’s likely to be restricted to mid and higher-end trim levels.

There’s still a diesel option too – a 1.5-litre motor called Blue dCi, with 85bhp and 220Nm, and a six-speed manual gearbox.

The hybrid powertrain, due in 2020, is called E-TECH and it mates a 1.6-litre, normally aspirated petrol engine to an electric motor that’s been integrated into a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, with a 1.2kWh battery acting as back-up. Renault says the system is efficient enough for many urban journeys to completed on 80 per cent pure-electric running, and that it offers fuel economy gains of up to 40 per cent.

Renault will not follow the Peugeot 208 by offering the Clio in a pure-electric form. Auto Express understands that a new generation of Zoe is already in the pipeline, and that Renault believes it will satisfy electric supermini demand. The forthcoming Captur – in effect the SUV derivative of the Clio – is likely to bridge the gap between mild-hybrid and full-electric by offering a plug-in hybrid powertrain that can operate for many urban journeys on electric power alone.

The new Clio’s dimensions have been confirmed too. It’s 4,050mm long – so slightly shorter than the car it replaces – and 1,798mm wide. The wheelbase is 2,583mm – again, a few millimetres shorter than the Mk4 Clio’s. The new car is significantly lighter than the outgoing version, though, with a kerbweight on the lightest variant of just 1,042kg; that’s a result of the switch to the all-new CMF-B chassis architecture, Renault claims.

New Renault Clio: design

The all-new Renault Clio is 100 per cent new and every body panel is different. But the model’s exterior design is clearly an evolution of what’s gone before, because many Mk4 Clio buyers cited the car’s design as a primary reason for purchase. The Clio is, in fact, Europe’s best-selling supermini – and the fourth generation of the French model actually increased its sales every year since its launch in 2012, with 450,000 units shifted in 2018 alone.

“We had so much to build on with the Mk5 Clio,” Renault’s design chief Laurens Van den Acker told Auto Express. “It would have been a shame to throw it away. So we’ve focused on keeping what is good and changing what needed to be changed.

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“So the exterior design is an evolution, but the interior is where we can make the most progress, so it’s a revolution. It’s the start of our interior design revolution.”

The exterior is a mature development of the Mk4. Renault’s prominent ‘face’ remains, albeit with full LED headlights that are standard across the range. The bonnet is a complex pressing, incorporating a central ‘rib’ that runs up from the badge, but the side surfacing is less fussy, with a subtle ‘gill’ that blends into a pair of creases running back from the front wheelarch.

The rear door handles continue to be integrated into the C-pillars, in an attempt to give the five-door-only Clio the look of a three-door. At the rear, meanwhile, the Mk4’s prominent shoulders are more neatly integrated, and there’s a sharper crease on the hatchback panel.

The Clio has what Van den Acker calls a “more athletic, sporty interior” which should feel more spacious and airy, despite the fact that the Mk5 Clio is around a centimetre shorter than the vehicle it replaces. This has been achieved by trimming away millimetres from interior components. “As an example, we have a smaller steering wheel and a smaller steering wheel column,” Van den Acker explained. “This helps to free up a bit more knee room for the driver.”

There’s a useful gain in boot size, too; the Clio gets a variable-height floor so you can prioritise a low load lip or capacity, but the space on offer ranges from 330 litres up to 391 litres – figures ahead of many family hatchbacks from the class above.

Expect a major step up in quality for the new model, with cushioned plastics in a number of key areas to give the car a much more premium feel. Renault is also likely to ramp up the personalisation options, with a wider availability of leather upholstery across the range. The dashboard, in fact, is divided into three distinct areas: a padded upper panel, a lower section incorporating the glovebox, and a middle strip that is ripe for customisation by buyers.

At the heart of the Clio’s front cabin is its new infotainment system. There are likely to be a couple of different options in this area, but the largest available display, which measures 9.3 inches, is huge by supermini standards. It’s angled towards the driver and is also slightly curved.

Renault’s newcomer also switches to a digital instrument display, with either a seven-inch or 10-inch panel being offered. The larger version is capable of showing navigation information in between the virtual dials.

The Clio’s design team has retained conventional rotary controls for the air-conditioning and heating, however. They’re sited at the bottom of the central dashboard stack, beneath some neat ‘piano key’ buttons that operate the hazard lights and other functions.

“Some companies have made a mistake by putting the HVAC [heating and ventilation] controls in the screen,” Van den Acker told us, clearly referencing the brand’s French rival PSA Peugeot-Citroen. “There’s nothing quite so simple as a button that allows you to change the temperature even with your eyes closed.”

The new Clio is due on sale in the autumn. There’s no word on pricing, but we’d expect a slight increase over the current car, to reflect the improved cabin and extra kit. That should give it a starting figure of around £14,000. 

Renault Clio: how it’s evolved Renault Clio I (1990-1998)

The original Clio was a watershed moment for Renault, replacing the much-loved 5 and also kick-starting the switch to names instead of numbers for the brand’s mainstream line-up. Helped by clever Nicole and Papa marketing, the car was a regular feature in the UK best-sellers list. 

Renault Clio II (1998-2005)

Codenamed X65, the second-generation Clio majored on comfort and space – but did little to really improve the interior quality. Bulbous design incorporated plastic panels in a few key areas. The wildest roadgoing Clio ever, the bonkers rear-drive, mid-engined V6, was based on this generation. 

Renault Clio III (2005-2012)

The Clio grew up for its third iteration – in both size and weight, because it tipped the scales around 130kg heavier than the car it replaced. It shared parts with the Nissan Note and Micra, and also introduced the estate body style to the Clio name. It was the last of the breed to be offered as a three-door, too. 

Renault Clio IV (2012-2019)

The biggest Clio ever – and it’ll remain so for at least the next seven years – the Mk4 has scored on its emotional exterior design, but fallen down against rivals on cabin quality. Despite this, its sales have grown every year since launch, and it was the second best-selling car in Europe in 2018.

Do you think the new Mk5 Renault Clio is the best looking Clio yet? Let us know your thoughts below…

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