Typical of Renault, when they bring out a new version of their top-selling cars, they have a tendency of changing the shape completely, or to a much greater extent, than most other manufacturers.
The next Renault Clio hatch could break cover later this year and we expect a hybrid powertrain and an evolutionary design update.
Renault is gearing up to launch one of its most important cars this century, the fifth-generation Clio. Expected to make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next March, it'll face a raft of fresh opposition such as the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and SEAT Ibiza.
Likely to go on sale in the middle of next year, the Mk5 Clio will mark a big step forward for the popular small French car. An electrified powertrain option and basic semi-autonomous driving assistance features are expected to be big new additions.
Renault’s designers will also take the opportunity to give the hot hatch a new lease of life. Though the car spotted testing here still wears plenty of masking, the images suggest that car’s looks will be an evolution of the current model’s. Expect mild inspiration from the Renault Symbioz concept in places, such as the new grille.
Bigger changes can be expected inside, where the cabin will undergo a dramatic overhaul, according to Renault’s design boss Laurens van den Acker. A much larger portrait-style touchscreen will dominate the dash and feature the latest smartphone connectivity apps, while a big jump in material quality will give a more premium feel. Van den Acker has previously said his design team needs to work on making future Renaults’ interiors as appealing as the exteriors.
The new Clio will be based on an updated version of the current car’s CMF-B platform in order to reduce development costs. That means a conventional range of petrol engines will be made available to buyers, including the new turbocharged 1.3-litre along with a revised version of the 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo. Given the higher price point and current market trend away from diesel, it’s unclear whether Renault will offer the Clio with any dCi engines.
What will appear in the Clio for the first time will be a mild hybrid powertrain. This should make use of a small petrol engine paired with 48V electrics to help reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. This type of electrification has been chosen because of its relative simplicity and affordability; Renault bosses have ruled out a plug-in hybrid version of the Clio, however.
Another way to help improve the economy without passing on huge costs to consumers is by reducing the model’s overall weight. Renault will take lessons learned from the 2014 Eolab concept to help strip unnecessary kilos out of the car; this could include using aluminium in the construction, thinner glass and a simplified braking system.
The Clio will also play a part in the French manufacturer’s push towards electrified and autonomous vehicles. By 2022, Renault is aiming to have eight fully electric and 12 hybrid cars, along with autonomous tech rolled out across 15 models. The brand has committed more than 18 billion Euros to R&D, which will go towards helping develop the technology.