Renault Clio III 5-door Dynamique 2007 Review

October 4th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Clio III 2007 fq

First launched over 17 years ago at the Paris Motor Show, Clio (being the Muse of History) is now a particularly apt name for Renault’s small and economical city car. It’s lauded as the car that saved Renault after a dismal decade beforehand, and has written a chapter in Renault’s success that has seen the Clio as one of the top selling cars in Europe since 1992.

Despite winning the European Motoring Journalists’ Car of the Year in 2006 this third-generation Clio doesn’t shout about its success. In fact, it’s quite possibly the quietest car I’ve driven. The 1.6-litre engine isn’t stressed producing the 82kW and 151Nm of torque, and that equates to fairly frugal motoring but lethargic performance (0-100 takes 12.2 seconds).

It also has a more mature and understated presence than its 1.4-litre predecessor. A low window line gives a sense of spaciousness inside. The slightly protruding rump is in keeping with the rest of the Renault range.

I had to revert to the instruction manual to find out how to turn on the cruise control and speed limiter. Once it’s activated, Renault’s system of letting you see the actual speed you’ve set as opposed to guessing by the position of the needle is a useful and practical solution to keeping at or under the speed you want.

Audio controls for volume are on a stubby wand on the steering column, augmented by a wheel control for frequency and buttons to choose the source. The FM stereo/CD player takes one disc and has a reasonable sound quality through its 6 x 15W speakers. The display is positioned at the top of the console on the dashboard and it also shows the outside temperature and time.

Positioned prominently in the console are the very simple controls for the air conditioning. Sometimes I yearn for a back-to-basics approach in this area, often finding that with today’s more complex climate control systems it takes too much effort just to get it to blow cold or hot. No such problem in the Renault with a clearly marked temperature dial consisting of blue lines and red lines. Retro!

For a small car, it has impressive safety features. A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating comes courtesy of a barrage of airbags and injury-minimising technology. Six airbags (including lateral and side curtain airbags the length of the cabin), and seatbelt pretensioners do their job should the ABS, electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA) not keep you out of trouble. Fuel is automatically cut in the event of an impact.

The Renault is slightly more expensive than other cars of this size because of the multitude of little things you get, like an air-chilled glove box, air recycling and particle filter, leather steering wheel and gear lever boot, fully telescopic steering wheel adjustment, trip computer and tinted glass.

Seventeen years of history has bred a car that is safe and handles well. Here’s hoping that there’s a hot hatch version on the way like the Clio 182.

Price: from $28,990

What we like

  • The little things
  • Quiet
  • Comfort
  • Handling

What we don’t like

  • Renault recommends premium fuel

Words and photos by Darren Cottingham

Renault Scenic II Dynamique 2007 Review

July 13th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Scenic II

Renault’s aptly named Scenic II is perfectly tailored to travelling whilst observing. Riding in it feels like you’re somehow on a scenic lookout. It’s not tall like an SUV, because you still feel like it’s a car, but it’s a car on tiptoes trying to sneak glimpses of a more distant horizon.
The horizon certainly won’t be appearing at speed, though, because the two-litre engine musters only 98kW. What it does do with flair, however, is transport lots of people (well, up to five of them), animals and/or stuff.
The front and rear bumpers have been redesigned, with the grille gaining more prominence. Headlights and taillights have been brought up-to-date (i.e. LEDs), and the equipment and interior trim levels in our test ‘Dynamique’ model are an improvement. More sound deadening means you can enjoy the six-disc in-dash, MP3-compatible CD player, and there are the driver assists such as steering column-mounted audio controls, light and rain sensors, and climate control. Safety is also good with six airbags and a five-star NCAP crash rating.
In the rush hour test it performed boringly well. It was exceptionally comfortable and the seating position gives a superior view of the surrounding traffic. To escape the tedium I took it to a windy road and again, it coped better than I expected. All its digital trickery (Electronic Stability Programme, Electronic Brake Distribution, etc) prevented me from falling into the scenery. If only it had another 40kW to play with, it would be a really fun drive.
Its extreme practicality must make it the favourite of many an upwardly mobile breeding female with family dog and accoutrements — up to 400 litres of them in the boot, which is easily enough to pack a camping holiday. In fact, there’s almost enough room to have a revolution in there. Renault have thought about who will be travelling in this car, so there are lots of friendly features for rear passengers. As well as sunblinds on the passenger windows, on the back of the driver and passenger seats there are fold-down trays with cup holders. The tray is airline-style, and big enough for a small laptop, or a kid’s book. There’s even a fold-down mirror in the front so you can keep an eye on the little tykes.

Each rear seat is independently movable — it will slide forwards or backwards — and the seats can be individually completely removed from the Scenic giving you a huge load space. One niggle is that you can’t easily drop the back seats forwards via the boot — you have to open the passenger door to get at the handle. Fold down a seat, though, and it will comfortably fit several snowboards. There are also a reasonable number of cubby holes under seats and in doors, but none of them fit a water bottle except for the enormous central binnacle.
Starting the Renault is a function hampered by security. Insert the black credit card-sized key into the dash to disable the immobiliser then press a button to start the engine. This sort of process has a certain (tolerable) presence with an Aston Martin, but as the Scenic’s engine bursting into life isn’t accompanied by eight cylinders piercing the tranquillity it seems tiresome.
The Scenic II is a trendy looking car, and its ‘bottom’ (a contentious styling issue on the Megane) has had some nip and tuck. It is practicality packaged with a little French design flair, and for a smidge under 43 grand, it’s great value for money.

Looking to purchase a Renault Scenic? Click here to view Scenics for sale

Price: from $42,990

What we like:

  • Styling
  • It’s quiet
  • Brakes are keen
  • It’s tres practical
  • Price is good
  • User controllable speed limiter

What we don’t like:

  • Lack of power (exacerbated by the gear ratios)
  • Engine harshness between 100-110kph
  • Difficult to get a comfortable seating position without being quite upright

Words and photos Darren Cottingham