In six generations since 1990, the Renault Clio has become a generic name in the automotive world. Versatile par excellence, it is number 1 in sales in France, with nearly 130,000 copies sold in 2019. Last year, the Clio took over without major aesthetic changes outside, but with a new CMF platform -B intended to accommodate a hybrid mechanism which combines a 91 hp petrol engine, a 49 hp electric block and a 20 hp high voltage starter
The Clio hybrid E-Tech will arrive in dealerships in June 2020. Its price is not yet revealed, but our estimates indicate a starting price of € 22,000, or € 1,000 more than a Toyota Yaris, his great rival. The range will peak at € 27,000 with the best endowed Initiale Paris finish (photographed version). Finally, note that if hybrids generally require annual maintenance, this will not be the case for this Clio: every two years or 30,000 km, like a diesel.
The starting is done all the time in electric, at least on the first meters, whatever the conditions. Then it all depends on the load on the accelerator pedal. By remaining measured, you will have the possibility of advancing easily up to 50 or 60 km / h (or even 75/80 km / h according to Renault, which we did not manage to do during our test) without consuming fuel. Then the combustion engine starts, rather discreet, is done automatically.
A button “EV” allows forcing the electric model of the Clio, provided that the battery has enough resources. In the best of cases, it will then be possible to travel 3 to 4 km in “zero emission” mode before the atmospheric block 1.6 takes over, then the batteries recover enough energy to assist it. Not sure that there is a gain in consumption, as the contribution of electricity in hybrid mode seems efficient and well thought out, especially in the city, the preferred playground for this type of engine.
Because it is a concept that should be integrated before acquiring this technology: the hybrid is especially valid in urban areas, where slowdowns – and therefore the regeneration phases of the dedicated battery – are numerous, and were more often the electric comes into action. On the road, its effect is already less obvious and disappears completely on expressways or motorways, when driving at a steady speed. And this remark applies to all hybrids on the market …
In terms of chassis and handling, the Clio E-Tech is no different from the other versions because it weighs only 10 kg more than a 115 hp diesel version or 1,287 kg. The handling is reassuring and the cushioning, calibrated fairly firm, makes it possible to turn flat at the expense of comfort, which remains acceptable, however. Unlike some hybrid models, the feel of the brake pedal is not felt to be too artificial. However, the steering remains light and does not allow a very intuitive route reading in fast driving.
Renault has used its experience in Formula 1, where single-seaters have also been hybrid (since 2014), to work on the energy management of this electrified Clio. Its E-Tech device is partly made up of an auxiliary battery (1.2 kWh) which stores kinetic energy (released by braking and deceleration) and redistributes it via two electric motors. These latter work in concert with a 1.6-liter petrol unit, which comes from Nissan’s organ bank (that of the X-Trail hybrid sold in Japan).
The first of the two electrical blocks, housed in the transmission, is the most powerful. The second is the HSG (high voltage starter) type. He has more of a role as an assistant at start-up. The two blocks are connected to a multi-mode clutchless clutch gearbox, also developed based on F1 technology.
The combination of electric motors with this new transmission makes it possible to smooth the gearshifts (which was not always verified on our test prototype) and should improve the overall energy efficiency. The energy and regeneration needs are then controlled according to 15 operating combinations which are linked in an imperceptible way, which according to Renault allows increasing the pleasure – which is true – while lowering consumption. On this last point, the Rhombus announces a maximum reduction of consumption of 40% in the urban cycle, thanks to operation “up to 80% of the time” in electricity in this context.
The new Clio Hybrid will first find the new Toyota Yaris Hybrid on its route, which will get a facelift in June, a few weeks before its arrival. Sold at slightly lower prices, the little Japanese will have the experience of a technology that its manufacturer has democratized, while the Clio, a safe bet on the market, will play the card of a 100% new device, onboard a slightly larger body (11 cm longer in length).
In the middle of the year, the new Honda Jazz e: HEV, which changes little style but which is full of new technologies, will also compete with the Clio, which will be able to count on the size of its network to be better exposed to the general public. public.
More than a version, it is a thoughtful technology that can be used on many models that the Clio Hybrid is launching. Under the hood of this versatile city car, this new team is convincing. Its higher technological level, its two electric motors, and its dog clutch are not recoverable from the steering wheel, but the promises in terms of energy intake in urban driving and the drop in consumption that goes with it argue in its favor.
Offered at an honest price, this first hybrid version of the Clio will find its audience, on the side of businesses but also of individuals, by posing as an alternative to diesel. The Renault Captur and the Nissan Juke will also benefit from this hybrid technology in early 2021.