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Renault Clio proves to be a sprightly, fuel-efficient package

2018/05/16 17:54

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By Choi Kyong-ae

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Yonhap) -- Renault S.A.'s Clio is not really performance-oriented, but it nevertheless proved to be a sprightly and highly fuel-efficient subcompact during a 160 kilometer-long test drive event in South Korea's eastern city of Gangneung on Wednesday.

The Renault Clio hatchback, the first Renault-badged model launched in Korea, demonstrated its worth among vehicles in the B segment in terms of overall performance and excellent fuel economy.

The Clio mated with a six-speed Getrag dual-clutch transmission could reach speeds of 175 kilometers on a motorway with little hassle. After the two and a half hour test drive, the fuel-economy gauge stood at an impressive 18 kilometers per liter, slightly better than the Clio's average fuel economy of 17.7 km/l given by the Korean government.

In this photo taken on May 16, 2018, and provided by Renault Samsung Motors, Renault Clio compact cars are taken for test drive in Gangneung, about 240 km east of Seoul. (Yonhap) In this photo taken on May 16, 2018, and provided by Renault Samsung Motors, Renault Clio compact cars are taken for test drive in Gangneung, about 240 km east of Seoul. (Yonhap)

The Clio shares the same powertrain with the QM3 sport utility vehicle but sits lower and weighs less, and it displayed stable performance in acceleration, cornering and braking.

Renault Samsung aims to sell 1,000 Clio compact cars, which are assembled in Turkey and shipped to Korea, on a monthly basis. It said it will compete with the Mini Cooper M and the Peugeot 208 models in Asia's fourth-biggest economy as the two models fall behind in fuel economy and come with smaller tires.

But the carmaker admitted that improvements are needed to lure customers in Korea, which Renault Samsung Motors Chief Executive Dominique Signora described as a "very challenging and competitive" market for automobile companies.

As the French carmaker has installed relatively low-priced, 17-inch Nexen tires on the Clio for Korean customers, road noise tended to seep into the diesel-powered vehicle all throughout the test drive.

Regarding of the car's reception here, some market watchers haves complained that the Clio's price tag of 20 million-23 million won (US$18,500-$21,300) is a bit steep, even if the best-selling European small car is cheaper in South Korea than in Europe.

Renault Samsung has been struggling with weak sales in the domestic market in recent years due to a lack of new models and competition with imported carmakers. Renault S.A. owns an 80 percent stake in Renault Samsung.

In its efforts to boost sales, the carmaker imports the QM3 SUV assembled in Spain and assembles Nissan Motor Corp.'s Rogue SUV at its only plant in Busan, 450 kilometers south of Seoul, for export. The QM3 is sold under the Renault Samsung badge here.

In the January-April period, its sales fell 0.6 percent to 87,996 vehicles from 88,563 units a year earlier.

Renault Samsung's current lineup includes the SM3 compact, the all-electric SM3 Z.E. sedan, the QM3 subcompact SUV and the SM5, SM6 and SM7 sedans.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr

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