I own the Clio 3, I’ve owned it for over 5 years now, and I love it deeply. So, it was only natural that I get super excited about testing out the newer model of my own car. My excitement was not undeserved though, and I absolutely loved the new Clio I drove for 3 days thanks to the nice folks at Bassoul Heneine.
In this review, I’ll focus on the tiny details I personally care about, and I’ll leave the technical specs at the bottom for you petrolheads.
It Looks Good
I adore hatchbacks. I could never drive a sedan, crossover or SUV. There’s just something about small cars that handle well and do decently when it comes to speed limits that I can’t resist. You might have noticed that, since the only cars I ever agree to review and test out are hatchbacks (Audi A1, Mercedes A250).
The new Clio is gorgeous, and even though I like the Clio 3′s cute booty better, the new one has a more serious, less cutsy feel to it. The real treasure though is the front and sides. The headlights have been facelifted and the grill is nice and minimal with a big diamond logo in the center and LED strips of light that add to the sexiness (and is a must-have these days in most cars).
The sides are hot too, with wedge at the bottom of the side doors that give it some attitude and shape, or as we’d say in Lebanon “mnafkha”. The hind-doors’ handles are also hidden, so at first glance, it’ll look like a 3-door model coupe, which is cool (since it’s more convenient than a coupe, especially if you always have friends riding along)
The rims are beautiful, and come in two colors, adding to the sportiness of the Clio 4 (I love rims). The new Clio is a bit longer, wider and lower than the Clio 3, which means more space inside and a less tiny-car feel from the outside. The difference in colors in the car’s exterior is something hard to pull off, but I feel the black parts of the grill, bumpers and sideskirts work perfectly on this newest model.
Now, a lot of people spend too much time thinking of how it looks on the outside, and forget it’s the inside that counts the most, since that’s where you’ll be spending hours and days and months of your life stuck in Beirut traffic. So, the interior has got to be epic, and especially the entertainment system. My Clio 3 has no auxiliary plug, and the entertainment system was pretty basic (doesn’t even read mp3) and the only good thing was that the steering wheels controls were very conveniently located and designed.
The Clio 4 though, has completely changed that, and the “infotainment” system was absolutely perfect and kept surprising me every day with every new feature I discover by mistake. It’s an 18cm wide touch-interface screen with big enough buttons to make it easy to operate when driving. You just plug in your USB, aux cable or sync it on bluetooth (which was remarkable easy, even with non-Apple products). It was all very smooth, and I didn’t need to break the law when it comes to answering calls while driving. It was actually cool having conversations out-loud for once.
What blew me away though was the extremely impressive navigation system. It had a map of Lebanon that was surprisingly accurate and useful, with stuff like gas stations, pharmacies, landmarks and supermarkets easily locatable, and most importantly, it looked good. It wasn’t the pixelated, ugly graphics of a GPS, but elegant and minimal-looking, which pans out when the road is straightforward, and zooms in gracefully when it’s at a confusing crossroads or exit. It also switches automatically into night mode (with a color scheme that is easier on the eyes in the low-light conditions). What’s surprising as well, is that it knows the shortcuts and back-alleys I’d use to get awat from traffic, not just the most straightforward way. It took me from the inner parts of Jal El Dib to Monot via the road I would have taken, not the one Google Maps chose (which I did to test out how worthy the nav system in the Clio 4 was).
The seats are nicer, and the finishing is nice and shiny. It’s a huge improvement from my ugly-ass furniture now, but definitely not the best I’ve ever seen. The polished finishing is also a bit annoying, since it’ll have your fingerprints all over it (which will help the CSIs discover who killed you faster, but are unpleasant on the eyes. You know, like an iPhone). But, it’s roomier, comfier and sexier.
One thing that was a bit annoying in my Clio 3 was how loud the engine noise, wind noise and outside noise could get. In this new Clio, the ride was a lot quieter and smoother, and you could barely hear the engine’s hum and the wheels interacting with the far-from-perfect Lebanese road surfaces.
The sound system was also a lot better, and I could really grind and nod my head to the intense West Coast beats I had on during the day, and the sexy electronic music at night. The sound was much crisper, and wouldn’t “khazze2″ at unreasonably loud volumes. It’s also more immersive, and crisper when it comes to bassy songs, without overtaking high-pitched melodies and vocals. I don’t know about you, but the sound system is a very important part of a car for me, and this one passed with flying colors. They even redesigned the steering wheel control, but kept the perfectly placed location, making improvements while keeping the features I loved in the Clio 3′s controls.
I know this seems like something that should go on the top, not in fourth position, but I am a vain person =P. The handling was awesome, and especially in traffic. What was surprising is how well driving it felt compared to cars that are twice and thrice as expensive. In traffic, it accelerates very gently when you take your foot off the break, but not too much, making it easier on your foot not having to keep shifting fast between the pedals. The 6-speed gearbox was a bit annoying to control for me since they switched which side is shift up, and which is side is shift down, and I’d recommend you keep it on D unless you want to decelerate fast.
Driving it is really smooth, and it accelerates like a motherfucker. It was quite a thrill flooring it on empty streets late at night to see how fast it goes, and I’ll admit, it did make my nether-parts tingle slightly. The turbo-charged, rather small engine packed quite a punch. Even going uphill was ok, and you could easily overtake the annoying trucks that hog the road.
All in all, driving the Clio 4 was amazing. It was fast, steady, sturdy, responsive and performed well in tight spots and at different speeds.
This is definitely going to be my next car. It’s jam-packed with awesome features inside and out, is the safest in its category, and has really, really improved on the car I already love: my Clio 3. It’s also reasonably priced, and with a price range at 25,000USD for the top of its range (and around 19,000 for the lowest specs), it’s definitely a lot more affordable than the high-end hatchbacks like the Audi A1, and I daresay can compete in most aspects when you think how much your bank will shrink each month for each one…
Anyway, test it out, lemme know what you think. I was personally convinced, and you’ll be seeing one soon with the Serotonin logo roaming around the streets of Lebanon! =D