Return of the Renault Clio Sport

October 14th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Clio Sport

Hot on the heels of Fernando Alonso’s second consecutive win at the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix, Renault’s smallest hot hatch, the Clio Sport, now as the RS 197 has returned to New Zealand.

Priced at $39,990, the limited edition three-door Clio RS now produces 197 horsepower from its two litre fuel injected engine, a 15 horsepower improvement on the previous Clio RS 182.

Only a handful of cars have arrived on New Zealand shores and can now be spotted at Renault dealerships. The next shipment will not arrive until well into 2009.

Compared to the regular Clio III, the RS’ body has wider front and rear wings to accommodate the larger wheels and tyres, side skirts and a semi-rigid under-bumper splitter, while the stance has been lowered. Extractor vents and an active rear air diffuser are fitted to aid stability and prevent rear-end lift by creating a zone of low pressure beneath the car. This results in a down force rating of between 40 and 70kg at high speed, lowering lift by around 65 per cent and eliminating the need for a rear spoiler.

Underneath is a development of the Renault/Nissan Alliance B Platform, which is also used by the Nissan Tiida and Micra. But the Clio III RS 197 is significantly different thanks to a 10mm longer wheelbase, as well as 48mm wider in the front track and 50mm in the rear, compared to the regular Clio III hatch. It also rides 15mm lower. The subframe is the same as used on the Megane RS 225, and employs transverse strengthening for greater front-end rigidity. Its bushes, front shock absorber mountings and rear suspension mountings are also stiffer.

Braking is via Brembo-supplied callipers at the front, featuring 312mm cross-drilled discs) and 300mm solid discs in the rear, while the 17-inch lightweight alloy wheels are shod with 215/45 tyres.

Turning the front wheels, via a new six-speed manual gearbox, is a development of the old RS 182’s normally-aspirated 1998cc 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder petrol engine with variable valve timing.

The French may have invented the metric system but Renault panders to Great Britain, the largest consumer of its RS products, by revealing the RS 197’s horsepower rating in its name. That’s 145kW, achieved at a high 7250rpm, while the 215Nm torque comes at 5550rpm, courtesy of the RS division. The result is a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.9 seconds.

RS has optimised the engine’s intake, exhaust port length and profiling for greater efficiency, worked on the valve seat aerodynamics, improved air intake and gas flow, increased valve lift from 9mm to 11.5mm to create a longer and wider valve aperture, and redesigned the combustion chamber and piston heads for a high compression ratio of 11.5:1. Lower emissions are a result, with carbon dioxide pollution dropping to 199g/km, while the combined average fuel consumption rating is 8.4L/100km.

On the safety front, the Clio III has earned a five-star European NCAP crash-test result. Present are an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC) that is sports-tuned with higher threshold programming and can be disconnected, ASR traction control and eight airbags — including two anti-submarining devices underneath the front seats.

Interior trim includes aluminium pedals, a perforated leather wrapped steering wheel with red centre-point stitching, RS logos on the instrument faces, door sills and front seats (which are of a bolstered ‘sports’ design), and a chrome-zinc centre console.

Standard features include air-conditioning, cruise control with speed-limiter, remote central locking, power windows, a multi-function trip computer, single-CD sound system, 60/40-split folding rear seat and 17-inch alloys.

Renault Koleos crossover launched in NZ

October 9th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Koleos fq

Renault’s first crossover 4WD, the Koleos is being launched in New Zealand this week as a diesel engined, 6 speed automatic 4WD model at $44,990 and a 2WD petrol version for $37,990 targeted at people who like crossover styling, versatility and the higher driving position, but do not need 4WD capability.

The 4WD two litre diesel comes with a six speed automatic gearbox, in which the ratios can also be selected manually coupled to the 4WD transmission which automatically switches from 2WD to 4WD when any loss of traction is detected. The 2.5 litre petrol 2WD model comes with a CVT gearbox, which also has six distinct ratios which can be selected manually.

“The Koleos 4WD diesel is priced competitively against its rivals,” said Wallis Dumper of Motorcorp Distributors, the importer of Renault.

“We’ve got a car with a six speed auto, a five star Euro NCAP safety rating and it’s got great European sporty styling rather than the traditional boxy design of many of our competitors.”

Mr Dumper said any shifts in the value of our currency could make future pricing a challenge, particularly for the Koleos 2WD. “We will have to re-evaluate things in 2009,” he said.

The Koleos is built by Renault Samsung Motors (an 81 percent owned subsidiary of Renault) at Pusan in Korea for all world markets.

Koleos’ trim level includes 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/60 R17 tyres, cruise control, speed limiter, dual zone climate air conditioning, roof rails, front fog lamps, Renault Hands Free Card and automatic headlights and wipers.

Its design, with short overhangs and good ground clearance assists in driving on uneven surfaces. Uphill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control systems are standard on the 4WD model.

The MacPherson-type front suspension and fully independent multi-link rear suspension combine to deliver directional stability. The rear dampers are mounted at an angle to free up as much space as possible between the wheel arches.

Koleos is the first Renault model to be equipped with four-wheel drive from launch. In normal conditions, torque is delivered to the front wheels only. If a reduction in grip is sensed, torque is instantly diverted to the rear. In extreme conditions up to 50 per cent of torque can be transferred to the back wheels. When pulling away from standstill, the engine delivers torque to all four wheels to ensure prompt and secure performance, regardless of the amount of grip available.

Koleos’ active safety is founded on robust and detail-engineered chassis and large brakes (320mm ventilated front discs, 292mm rear discs) that can bring the car to a halt from 100 km/h in just 42 metres. In emergency braking situations, Koleos has  ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) with under steer control.

Standard equipment on all Koleos models includes front airbags that automatically adapt to the build of driver and front passenger, plus side and full-length curtain airbags. The front seatbelts have pretensioners, while front and outer rear seatbelts benefit from load limiters. Isofix child seat anchors are provided on the outer rear seats.

Koleos has a 150,000km/three-year new vehicle warranty, together with a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty and a three-year warranty against paint defects.

Renault shows Zero Emissions Concept at Paris

October 8th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault ZE Concept

Renault used the recent Paris Motor Show to unveil the technology which will be available in its electric car when it is launched in 2011.

Z.E. Concept (Zero Emissions Concept) features a design which has been adapted to the spirit of an electric vehicle, with the focus on minimising energy consumption while at the same time maintaining core comfort features.

The energy consumption of auxiliary functions such as lighting, heating, and climate control limits an electric vehicle’s range, so special attention has been paid to optimise energy management.

The Z.E. Concept is powered by a 70kW electric motor with torque of 226Nm, with lithium-ion batteries. The use of heat-reflective paint and insulating bodywork featuring large surface areas contributes to the reduction of temperature fluctuations.  Traditionally this prompts the use of climate control or heating systems which are big consumers of energy. Insulation is further optimised by the use of acid green-tinted glass for the glazed areas.

The bodywork functions along the same lines as a Thermos flask. It comprises two insulating panels with a sandwich of air.  This air, which is still the most effective insulator known today, limits variations in temperature between the exterior and the interior of the car. Solar panels, positioned on the roof, power a temperature regulation system.

The conventional drag-producing exterior mirrors have been replaced by streamlined, low-energy cameras which are also powered by the roof-mounted solar panels to enhance all-round visibility, especially when manoeuvring. The low-drag full-disc aluminium alloy wheels also improve aerodynamic performance.

The headlamps use efficient, high-performance light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which are not only long lasting but also low consumers of energy.

A linear display on the outside of the door provides a visual indication of how much range remains even before the driver gets into the vehicle. Much like a cell phone displays how much power it has left.

Renault Be Bop to become a reality

October 2nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Bebop fq

The Renault Be Bop concept was first seen at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show and it hasn’t got any prettier. But these unique little vehicles will soon be available in Europe. The production Be Bop maintains the two-door van layout of the concept vehicle, and the ceiling is now comprised of two tilting glazed glass panels up front, one fixed glass panel in the middle, and an opaque roof panel in the rear that lifts up and forward to create an open air experience for back seat passengers. This special roof creates a van-vertible, a fresh concept for tradesmen and quirky folk. Letting even more light in are expansive side windows, so despite being tiny in dimension, the Be Bop shouldn’t feel confining to its passengers. The rear seats can also be removed to increase cargo capacity, and Renault says that passengers can even enter the vehicle through the open rear gate and slide between the rear seats. There will be three engines available an 85-hp 1.5L dCi and 105-hp dCi, both of which are paired with a six-speed manual, and a gas-powered 105-hp 1.6L four-cylinder. It’s a crazy looking ride, and definitely has a good helping of French flamboyance. At this stage it’s unclear if the Be Bop will prove too exotic to make it down here, we will have to wait and see.

Renault’s top-of-the-line Ondelios crossover

September 12th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Ondelios fq

The Paris Motor Show sees the wraps come off Renault’s top-of-the-range concept car Ondelios. Ondelios is Renault’s vision of the high-end crossover, combining a comfortable ride with respect for the environment incorporating an original hybrid powertrain and some pretty ethereal design.

The 4.8-metre-long, 1.6-metre high Ondelios has drawn inspiration from the world of aviation design to deliver high drag efficiency and a Cd of just 0.29. The aluminium-finish grille is flanked by headlamp units that suggest flowing motion.

Another feature of Ondelios’ aerodynamic styling is the boomerang-shaped tail lights. They are built into the bodywork and ringed with air extractors to control the flow of air from the wheel arches.

The glazed roof bathes the interior in natural light.

“We think of it as made from a single material, where the body and glazed areas merge into one. Ondelios is a glimpse of what the automobile might be in the medium term future,” adds Patrick Le Quement, Renault’s Design Director.

The butterfly-type side doors, which also feature an extensive glazed area, swing out and upwards as the sills slide down to
facilitate ingress.

The dark blue anthracite of the bodywork blends perfectly with the tinted glazed area, making the car look as if it were all of a piece and a single colour. The tailgate’s upper section rounds off the sleek, aerodynamic lines with a profiled glareshield
that slides inwards to air and cool the cabin.

Ondelios sits on seven-spoke, 23-inch aluminium alloy wheels with propeller-like hubs draw that airflow from the sides of the car to prevent turbulence. They operate in conjunction with the rim-side brake discs to ensure they suck in air effectively.

The sleek sidewalls of the large diameter 255/40 Michelin Pilot Sport tyres deliver excellent drag performance. Their tread pattern is designed to minimise deformation of the contact patch while on the move to help curb rolling resistance.

The tread has efficient, active flow channels which, together with the wide circumferential groove that helps clear water, strengthen the image of a high-end, high-tech tyre.

Inside, there are three rows of seats that offer individual seating for six. With their cantilever mounts they give the impression of floating, while their kinematics are redolent of airplane seats. The electrically adjustable backs fold into comfortable, business-class positions, while occupants can deploy and retract their footrests at will. They are designed, like giant leaves, to hug their occupants who can curl up in them.

Some of the car’s structural parts are made from natural flax fibre for greater recyclability. In keeping with the commitment to make the car as light as possible, its body is made from carbon and the glazed areas from polycarbonate.

Ondelios is powered by a hybrid powerplant which combines a more powerful 205hp (150kW) version of the 2.0 dCi engine, with two 20kW electric motors at the front and rear. They operate in mild hybrid mode, giving the engine extra boost as required. They use a brake and boost system, recovering energy during braking then delivering it to the engine to boost
acceleration. The front motor also uses fuel-saving stop-start technology.

The electric motor mounted on the rear axle drives the rear wheels when the ESP sensors detect a loss of traction, thus giving Ondelios the capability of a 4WD vehicle. The car is equipped with a lithium-ion battery that can deliver power of up to 4kW/h.

With torque of 450Nm between 1,700 and 3800rpm, the diesel engine provides comfort and flexibility at all engine speeds for long-distance driving pleasure. The 2.0 dCi unit takes Ondelios from a standing start to 100kph in just 7.8 seconds. Driving through a seven-speed, double-clutch gearbox, fuel consumption is kept to a frugal 4.5 litres/100km and CO2 emissions at a lowly 120g/km.
Weights, dimensions, capacities

Length (mm) 4,805
Width (mm) 1,998
Height (mm) 1,605
Height with doors open (mm) 2,230
Wheel base (mm) 2,895
Front track (mm) 1,690
Rear track (mm) 1,720
Unladen weight (kg) 1,452
Boot (dm3) 530
Technical data

Internal combustion engine 2.0 dCi
Power in hp (kW) 205 (150)
Maximum torque (Nm) 450, from 1,700 to 3,800rpm
Electric motors Two 20kW electric motors: one at
the front and one at the rear
Power supply 4kWh lithium-ion battery. Size:
40dm3. Weight: 50kg
Acceleration from 0 to 100kph (s) 7.8
CO2 emissions, combined cycle fuel
consumption 120g/km, 4.5 litres/100 km
Transmission Double-clutch seven-speed
automatic transmission
Internal combustion engine drive
and electric motor drive
Tyres 255/40 ZR23
Wheels Diameter: 23″. Width: 9″
G Studio Bodywork
Michelin Tyres
Samsung Telephone for communication with
Mgs par Materialise Sintered parts

New Renault Megane long overdue (+video)

September 11th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Megane III 2009 fq

Replacing essentially a six-year-old car, the new Megane’s is long overdue as it’s competing with the likes of the VW Golf and Ford Focus.

Due to be officially revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October, it takes its design cues from the Megane Coupe Concept shown at Geneva last March. New Renault Megane’s interior is equipped with practical, comfort-enhancing features. These include combined analogue/digital instruments incorporating a new, easier to read colour-coded cruise control/speed limiter interface, hands-free entry and ignition, automatic locking as the driver walks away from the car, a Carminat Bluetooth DVD navigation system and a custom-developed audio system (3D Sound by Arkamys).

A broad, extensively renewed range of dCi and TCe powerplants combining performance and respect for the environment is available, with four diesel engines that can claim CO2 emissions equal to, or less than, 120g/km.

New Renault Megane has been designed to offer best-in-class safety performance, too. Features include double side impact sensors and dual-chamber airbags as seen on Laguna III and aimed at minimising the consequences of a side-on collision.

It is also a socially responsible vehicle which is 95 per cent end-of-life recoverable by weight, while almost 12 per cent of the plastics it contains are sourced from recycling, equivalent to an average of 22kg per car.

New Renault Megane marks the beginning of Renault’s renewal of its C-segment line-up. With market share of more than a third, this segment has long been the biggest in Western Europe and makes a significant contribution to Renault’s performance in terms of both volume and profitability.

Pricing and a New Zealand release date haven’t been revealed.

Renault Koleos gets five stars in crash test

September 2nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Renault’s Koleos sports utility vehicle, which will be available in New Zealand before the end of the year is the tenth Renault model to obtain the maximum score of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.

Koleos is the tenth Renault model to obtain the maximum five-star score in adult protection. It scored 33 out of 37 in adult protection tests, earning five stars. It obtained 4 out of 5 stars in child protection and 2 out of 4 in pedestrian protection.

Koleos benefits from Renault’s longstanding work in real-life accident analysis. In terms of passive safety, its body structure features programmed crumple zones at the front and back. The cabin was designed as a real survival cell for passengers in the event of an accident.

Renault Koleos also boasts a comprehensive range of equipment for passenger protection, including six airbags, seatbelts with force limiters in the front and rear side seats and pretensioners in the front seats, along with Isofix anchor points for attaching child seats in the rear side seats – all fairly standard now for cars in its class.

The headrests have a carefully worked ergonomic design that offers maximum protection against whiplash in the event of rear impact.

Interestingly, Koleos’ four-wheel drive system was developed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance and first featured on the new Nissan X-Trail. It comes with electronic stability control.

Other EuroNCAP results for Renault models are:
·    Laguna II 5 stars (2001 and 2003), first car ever to obtain this score

·    Vel Satis 5 stars (2002 and 2005)

·    Megane II 5 stars (2002), first medium segment vehicle to obtain 5 stars

·    Espace IV 5 stars (2003)

·    Scenic II 5 stars (2003), first compact MPV to obtain 5 stars

·    Modus 5 stars (2004), first 5-star vehicle in its category

·    Megane II Coupe Cabriolet 5 stars (2004), first 5-star vehicle in its category

·    Clio III 5 stars (2005)

·    New Laguna 5 stars (2007)

·    Koleos 5 stars (2008)

Two 5-star rated Koleos models will be launched in the New Zealand late October — the 4×4 diesel and the 4×2 petrol.  Pricing will be announced closer to release date.

New Renault Sport Twingo to go on sale soon

August 26th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


The new Twingo Renault Sport aims to opens up the Renault Sport thrill to a wider range of customers, while putting them in complete control.

The Twingo Renault Sport range is simple and attractive: sporty looks, a 133hp 1.6 litre 16V engine and a choice of two chassis (Sport or Cup). The car can be customized to every driver’s taste: exterior and interior Renault Sport detailing is available, along with a multimedia connection point.

From the car’s launch, Renault Sport Technologies will offer every customer a service that is unique in the hot hatch segment: Renault Sport Experience driving tuition. This driver training course reinforces Renault’s credentials as a socially responsible company and is available in several European countries. It teaches new buyers how to handle their new hot hatch, so they can get maximum enjoyment from Renault Sport’s cars in total safety.

In France, the start of sales will be on September 11th. No news though if Renault New Zealand will be bringing the Twingo here.

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