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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new Renault Clio has been unveiled, revealing the stunning French city car’s striking styling, efficient powertrains and innovative interior technologies for the first time.

The fourth-generation Clio range will be unveiled at the 2012 Paris motor show in September before launching in Australia in mid 2013, with the entry-level models to once again be sold alongside the high-performance Renaultsport variants.

The Clio is expected to go head to head with its fellow European city car rivals, including the Peugeot 208 and the Volkswagen Polo, with a starting price south of $20,000.

The new Clio becomes the first production model to get the full expression of the vision of Renault’s new senior vice president corporate design, Laurens van den Acker, who has drawn inspiration from his earlier Renault DeZir concept from the 2010 Paris motor show.

The Clio’s front-end features a prominent Renault badge bordered by a black gloss grille with embedded LED daytime running lights. Despite being available only as a five-door, the Clio has a sporty silhouette thanks to its rising window line, disguised rear door handles and contrasting lower door inserts. The tight rear-end adds further attitude with squeezed tail-lights, a large diffuser and a compact rear window.

The cabin features an attractive mix of minimalism and technology, with the clean dash surfaces and simple centre stack brought to life by a seven-inch touch screen. The central display incorporates TomTom navigation with real-time traffic updates as well as Renault’s ‘R-Link’ app store, which allows owners to download applications to their car’s infotainment system.

Along with apps to help drivers check messages, manage their diary, locate a parking space and send a tweet on the go, the R-Link library also includes the Renault R-Sound Effect app, which simulates six different engine sounds and synchronises them with the Clio’s speed and acceleration to create a unique on-board audio experience.

The aircraft-inspired instrument cluster features a digital speed readout flanked by a tacho and fuel gauge.

Renault’s broadest ever personalisation program allows owners to customise the colours and textures of everything from the dashboard, door panels, steering wheel, grab handles, gear lever, air vent surrounds, upholstery materials and floor mats on the inside to the grille, door inserts, decals and alloy wheels on the outside.

Three new engines will be offered in the Clio from launch. The Clio is the first model to feature the new three-cylinder turbocharged Energy TCe 90 engine – the first three-cylinder engine in Renault’s history. The 899cc (0.9-litre) engine produces 67kW of power and 135Nm of torque (at 2000rpm). Teamed with stop-start technology, the TCe 90 uses just 4.3 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle.

The larger 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder TCe 120 petrol engine produces 89kW and 190Nm of torque (at 1750rpm). It will be paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission when it joins the international line-up during the first half of 2013, a few months after the initial launch.

The sole diesel option is a 67kW/220Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder with stop-start technology. Fuel consumption from economy-optimised models will dip as low as 3.2L/100km, making it one of the most efficient internal combustion engined cars in the world.

The full details of the Renault Clio IV will be revealed at its Paris motor show debut in September.

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