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ON THE ROAD- Renault Ireland Launch the 2020 Clio

Since the original Clio was introduced back in 1990, Renault have sold one per minute, worldwide. That means there is probably another one gone since you clicked on this article to read it! Renault Ireland have sold 55,000 of their B segment car in that period, so understandably the latest incarnation of the Clio is pretty important to them.

The Clio 5 may look relatively familiar,  but at the press launch, Renault Ireland’s product manager Jeremy Warnock was keen to point out that it is 100% new, in every aspect. Clio buyers, he said, like their spec and comfort and if that’s the case, they certainly won’t be disappointed with the latest fifth generation model. Based on a brand new platform, it is 50kg lighter, yet stronger, safer and with more boot and interior space than its predecessor. Connectivity is a buzz word in motoring circles at the moment and the new Clio doesn’t disappoint. All models sport a touch screen Easylink multimedia system and the sat nav systems now have Google search integrated, so prompt the user with spellings etc- a godsend compared to some previous systems! New to the Clio is E call- a button for contacting emergency services with an auto function if an airbag is deployed. The Clio is the first Renault to have such a feature. Other elements of technology are traffic sign recognition- including speed limits, AEBS with pedestrian recognition, which works on both camera and radar, and a very effective lane assist system. All of this has resulted in the new Clio being awarded 5 Stars in the all important Euro NCAP, becoming the 22nd Renault to achieve this.

When Jeremy was joined on stage by Renault Ireland boss Paddy Magee and the floor was thrown open to questions, the subject, as it often does these days, turned to EVs. Paddy explained that range anxiety was far less prevalent than before and customers these days are well informed and have done their homework and even made their decision before they visit a dealership. As an aside, Renault dealerships do not have EV specialists per se- they have trained their entire salesforce to sell electric vehicles. As well as the new Clio, a new Captur, to take on the growing B-SUV segment and and all new ZOE, will arrive in Irish showrooms in early 2020- meaning that understandably, Renault Ireland are very positive about 2020.

Renault Ireland had all five generations of the Clio on display at Kilkea Castle

At the launch, we briefly drove the TCe-100 in RS-Line trim. This spec includes 17″ alloys and a sporty leather stitched steering wheel, which one would expect to find in a perfomance version. The one litre three cylinder engine feels quicker than the performance figures suggest, and is accompanied by a distinctive, but unintrusive, three cylinder thrum. The chassis is excellent, with little or no body roll and plenty of balance even at moderate speeds. With the launch taking place in the beautiful Kilkea Castle, we took the opportunity to take in some of the famous Gordon Bennett route and couldn’t help but stop at the relatively new sculpture at Timolin. It depicts one of the cars crossing the finish line of the 1903 event, as well as the crowds and if you look closely, even a fox chasing a chicken! This route is used by many visiting UK classic and vintage car clubs and of course the annual Gordon Bennett run, which is hugely popular.

As ever, I digress. The new generation Clio has already arrived at your local dealer and prices start from just €16,990

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