REVIEW DATE: 27 Nov 2009
Renault is adopting a musical theme for its I-Music special edition models. Steve Walker reports.
Pink Cadillac, Mustang Sally, Route 66, Cross Town Traffic: music and motoring have become inextricably linked over the years, with cars continually providing subject matter for pop songs and cropping up in music videos while music itself has become a vital part of many peoples' everyday driving experience. These days, there are all kinds of ways to get your favourite tunes into the car you've got but Renault is hoping to tempt new car buyers with a series of special edition models aimed squarely at music lovers. The I-Music range sounds like a fine idea and here we examine the Clio supermini versions.
The Clio has established itself as one of the UK's most popular superminis and rightly so. It mixes neat styling and compact dimensions with good levels of interior space and comfort. A wide spread of trim levels ensures there's a Clio derivative to suit most tastes and the I-Music special editions slot in towards the lower end of the line-up campaigning on value but with a handy collection of extras thrown in.
There are three engines from which to choose. The entry-level option is affordable but not particularly pacey with 74bhp and a 1.2-litre capacity. The 0-60mph increment takes 13.4s and there's a top speed of over 100mph. Much better, but priced accordingly, is the 1.2-litre TCE engine which generates 99bhp with the aid of a turbocharger. This feels altogether sprightlier in the Clio and thrives on a more vigorous driving style. With this unit, 0-60mph takes 11s and 114mph is attainable. The final option is Renault's 1.5-litre dCi diesel stalwart, this time in 85bhp form. It's a solid engine with a good hit of torque from low revs but little to excite in the upper echelons of the rev range. It feels quicker than its 12.7s 0-60mph time and 108mph top speed suggest.
"If your motoring tends to be done with a constant musical accompaniment, Renault's I-Music special edition models might be worth considering."
Today's Clio is a big car, even by modern supermini standards. It weighs-in at well over a tonne and while progress can be sluggish with the normally-aspirated 1.2-litre powerplant doing the legwork. The refinement in the cabin is very impressive with minimal wind and road noise. It means you should have no problem hearing the stereo. As with all Clio IIIs, there's tenacious grip and taut body control that invites swift cornering. The ride quality also wouldn't seem out of place in a car a class higher.
The I-Music Clio can be identified by its brushed aluminium effect door mirrors and 15" alloys wheels. Otherwise, it's visually the same as other Clios from the affordable end of the range. This is no criticism: Renault's design team did sterling work with this generation Clio and its simple but attractive lines ensure it stands out.
The Clio's generous size helps it serve up plenty of passenger space and the quality of the cabin environment also impresses. There's a generously proportioned boot of 288 litres that will also come in handy. Beneath the skin, Renault's focus has been on increasing refinement on the Clio and today's model features upgraded sound-deadening measures to combat engine, transmission and wind noise.
The Clio I-Music models come in at £800 over and above the price of the equivalent Extreme or Expression. For that extra outlay, buyers get everything featured on those cars plus the 15" Del Arte alloy wheels and brushed aluminium-effect wing mirrors. Inside, there's a Bluetooth hands free kit and air conditioning which costs over £500 on its own. The all important stereo is a four-speaker MP3 compatible unit with controls mounted on the steering wheel and an RCA connection socket just in front of the gearlever which will allow you to play the music on most mobile phones and MP3 players via their headphone jacks with the correct lead.
There are three and five-door bodystyles for Clio I-Music customers to consider but that's by no means the extent of the special edition range, assuming you're willing to consider some of Renault's other models. There are I-Music versions of the Megane family hatchback, Modus supermini MPV, the Scenic and its bigger brother the Grand Scenic. All follow a similar formula, with Bluetooth technology and upgraded stereo systems that are compatible with portable music players.
It's the less powerful engines in the Clio range that are fitted to the I-Music model and while that might truncate the fun slightly, it means major benefits at the pumps. The 1.2-litre normally aspirated engine returns 48mpg with 139g/km emissions but more impressive is the feisty 1.2 TCE turbo unit that gets nearly 49mpg despite its superior performance. None of the petrols can hold a candle to the 1.5 dCi diesel with regards to running costs though. It can return over 64mpg on the combined cycle with 115g/km emissions putting it amongst the greenest superminis around.
If your motoring tends to be done with a constant musical accompaniment, Renault's I-Music special edition models might be worth considering. In the case of the Clio I-Music, buyers get an entry-level car upgraded with a range of extras including alloy wheels, air-conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity for a modest premium. There's also a decent MP3 compatible stereo and the means to link up your mobile phone or portable music players. The musical dimension aside, this is standard special edition stuff but when the formula works, why change it?
The results below show the top CLIO deals on buyacar
|Renault Clio 0.9 TCE 90 Dynamique S MediaNav 5dr hatchback|
|Price £13,211||Save £1,784|
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|Price £9,682||Save £913|
|Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 Dynamique S MediaNav 5dr diesel hatchback|
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|Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 ECO Dynamique MediaNav 5dr diesel hatchback|
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|For CLIO I-MUSIC|
|OVERALL||7.1 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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