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Forbidden Fruit: Renault Reveals Fourth-Gen Clio


Since the original Renault Clio was launched in 1990, the compact car has racked up sales of some 11.5 million units in 115 countries. It’s won the Car of the Year Award twice (in 1991 and in 2006), and is available in variants to satisfy nearly every type of driver.

In fact, the only thing negative we can say about the Renault Clio is that you can’t buy one in the United States. Renault has been absent here since 1989, and it doesn’t look like French brand will change that any time soon.

That makes news of an all new Renault Clio, set to launch in early 2013, that much more depressing. The rest of the world, it seems, will get the stunning hatchback (influenced in its design by the DeZir Concept), while we can only hope for one as a rental on our next European jaunt.

In addition to styling revisions that better match Renault’s corporate identity, the fourth-generation Clios get new engines, too. Those concerned with fuel economy can choose from a turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine or a four-cylinder turbodiesel, and Renault is also offering a 1.2-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that makes 120 horsepower.

Renault is introducing a six-speed, dual clutch automatic transmission on the new Clio, as well as features like its R-Link tablet, integrated into the dash of higher-trim Clio models. The voice-guided R-Link can be used for entertainment or navigation, and even has its own dedicated app store.

All Clio models come with Bluetooth phone integration and audio streaming, and all also include USB and auxiliary jacks, too. An available audio system, Renault Bass Reflex, reportedly delivers home-audio levels of sound quality, with very little bass distortion even at high volumes.

Even the interior design is a step above what we’re used to on entry-level cars, proving that inexpensive doesn’t necessarily equate to bland. We like the patterned cloth seats, and tip our cap to Renault for avoiding both faux wood trim and faux leather seating.

If you live anywhere other than the U.S., you’ll probably like the new Renault Clio even more than the version it replaces. We probably would, too, if Renault ever reconsidered its position on U.S. sales.
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