The Clio Mark 2 underpinnings mean the chassis is fairly simple, with the emphasis on safety, poise and comfort, but the suspension of the GT has stiffer bushings to introduce a sportier element to the drive, and its electric variable-assistance power steering has been recalibrated with the same aim in mind. Anti-lock brakes are standard on both cars and stability control will be an option, although possibly not at launch.
Both engines emit less than 140 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide as part of Renault’s commitment to produce a million cars a year that meet this target by 2008. The standard 1.2 develops 75bhp and a maximum 79lb ft of pull, and is said to be particularly responsive at low revs to help lower fuel consumption and emissions. It is available with either a standard five-speed manual gearbox or the Quickshift5 system that allows manual changes without a clutch pedal or fully automatic operation. It’s said to cut fuel consumption by 3%.
The 1.2 TCE is based upon it and shares 70% of its parts, but adds a low-inertia turbocharger to provide what Renault describes as ‘feisty’ performance across a broad rev range. It develops 100bhp at 5500rpm and 107lb ft of pull at 3000rpm, but these figures are temporarily boosted by 5bhp and 4lb ft in second, third and fourth gears once the engine is spinning above 4500rpm, to aid overtaking.
Renault claims a combined economy figure of 47.8mpg for the GT and, thanks to shorter ratios in the five-speed manual gearbox, a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds. However, it needs more frequent oil changes – every 12,000 miles rather than every 18,000 with the standard 1.2.