We’ve driven Renault’s gold standard! In a world exclusive, Auto Express has taken to the road in the biggest Clio ever – but is it good enough to make it to the top of the podium?
With nearly 200bhp, a redesigned front end and a sleek panoramic glass roof, this Renault has got something for everyone! What’s more, the sexy new model will be revealed in full production-ready form at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.
The Clio Grand Tour was a surprise star of the Geneva expo earlier this year. As soon as you clap eyes on the car, it’s clear that the newly launched Peugeot 207 SW will face some stiff competition in the style stakes.
Renault is very keen to attract young, trendy buyers to its forthcoming more practical Clio, so it’s no surprise that the Grand Tour is based on a Renaultsport Clio 197. It comes with only three doors, and sits low down on gold alloy wheels.
Designers cite cult TV show Pimp My Ride as the inspiration for the front, and they have given it a low spoiler and chrome detailing around the traditional Clio grille. A brushed aluminium shroud covers the air vents behind the front wheels, while the shoulder line rises to the rear, providing the car with a sporty profile.
The back end is finished off with a subtle roof-mounted spoiler, and brushed aluminium body inserts surround the sporty twin tailpipes. It’s not revolutionary, but it looks clean and classy, and not unlike the Volvo C30 in profile. To compete with the Peugeot estate, Renault bosses know their contender must also be highly practical. So the Grand Tour is 30cm longer than a standard Clio – with most of that in the wheelbase.
The reward is 147 litres more boot space than in the hatch, even before the back seats are folded. Plus, the tailgate goes all the way down to the boot floor for easy loading.
By incorporating the registration plate and bumper in the rear door, there’s no awkward lip to lift luggage over. And to demonstrate the usability of such a system even further, the manufacturer has also fitted a storage drawer and even a stool in the boot floor, which you can pull out when the tailgate is open.
The unforgiving seats remind you that this car is still at the concept stage, but there are a number of features the stylists are keen to see in production. These include an extra- wide satellite navigation screen, with a joystick to control its functions, plus a Neoprene gearlever gaiter.
You could easily imagine the thick-rimmed wheel in a production vehicle and, on the road, this working model isn’t too far removed from the final version. It uses the same 194bhp engine as the range-topping Clio, which gives it plenty of punch. Even though this is a precious prototype, you can accelerate hard all the way through the gears, and the powerplant responds with a rasping exhaust note. The flipside is that this lack of sound insulation, combined with fibreglass and carbon fibre bodywork, makes for a ride that’s anything but refined.
Still, the glass roof adds a sense of occasion, providing a clear view of the sky. And while it feels special on the inside, the car’s shape is also truly attention grabbing.
To start with at least, the production Clio load-lugger will have a traditional five-door layout. But it’s still set to bring a welcome dose of style to the oversized supermini market.
+ Peugeot asks, "Parlez-vous TT?" with 308 RC Z Coupe Concept
+ 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show Preview: Mercedes to unveil F700 luxury sedan
+ 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show Preview: Suzuki releases sketch of Kizashi concept
+ Subaru at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show
+ Mazda6 teaser hits the web, set to debut in 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show
+ New Porsche Cayenne begets new TechArt Magnum
+ 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show Preview: Kia reveals rear shot of Pro-cee'd hatchback
+ 2007 Frankfurt Auto preview: VW to debut rear-engine city car
+ 2007 Frankfurt Motor preview: Renault roadster takes aim at MX-5
+ Iosis X-based Ford Kuga to hit Europe in 08
+ Kia Sports Coupe concept pegged for Frankfurt