Renault Clio GT Line Exciting 1.2-liter turbocharged duo generate ripples in the industryAt the end of October 2015, Malaysian Renault franchise holder TC Euro Cars (a subsidiary of Tan Chong Motors) fired not one but two salvos to ruffle the feathers of the local motoring scene with two very distinct variants that share a common platform: Renault Clio GT Line and Captur.

The Renault Clio GT Line weighs in at a very attractive RM118,000.00 price tag while its global award-winning crossover sibling, the Renault Captur is set to capture the hearts of automotive fans with its RM123,000.00 asking price, putting it within striking range of crowd favorites, the pretty but predictable Honda HR-V and the gorgeous but slightly cramped, soon to be launched Mazda CX-3. Instead of the usual safe color offerings of other traditional marques, TC Euro Cars took the road less traveled and specced our local variants with exciting colors such as Malta Blue, Diamond Black, Glacier White and Flame Red. The last color (Flame Red) slaps on an additional RM5,000.00 to the sticker price, which may put a few people off, but you will need to see the actual color for yourself to decide if that extra 5 grand is worth it or not. I think it is.

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The Captur on the other hand, takes color choices one step further with each variant sporting a two-tone look. 3 color choices (Arizona Orange, Beige and Ivory) come with a Diamond Black roof while the last one, Pacific Blue, comes with a unique Ivory roof. No additional charges for any of the color variants so you can pick and choose without restraint.

Renault Clio GT Line and Captur: Shared Platforms

Both the Clio GT Line and the Captur share a common B-segment platform, so let’s take a look at what drives these two babies. Both cars come equipped with Renault’s (TCe) Turbo Control Efficiency 120 engine good for 120PS @ 4,900rpm and 190Nm @ 2,000rpm, which is equivalent to a naturally aspirated modern 1.8-liter powerplant. Equivalent on paper, but no 1.8-liter NA engine will be able to generate full torque at 2,000 turns, so in the real world, both the Clio GT Line and Captur are a lot zippier than their figures suggest.

What makes the Clio GT Line and Capture so fun to drive lies also in the fact that both cars come with a 6-speed Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) gearbox, Renault’s version of VW’s DSG that first saw production in the hotter than hot Renault Clio R.S. The Clio GT Line is said to dispense with the century sprint in a tad under 10 seconds, while no official figures were given for the Captur which can probably do it in 11 plus seconds thereabouts, considering its additional weight and heavier wheels.

All this performance coming from a little 1.2l turbocharged engine and efficient dual clutch transmission that is miserly on fuel (5.2l/100km for the Clio GT Line and 5.4l/100km for the Captur) and which costs a mere RM55 in annual road tax will surely pique the interest of a largely frugal motoring public who are tired of the usual suspects on offer and want something a lot nicer looking with the performance and frugality to boot. We were told that engaging ECO mode will help us save an additional (up to) 10% of fuel, but in so doing you will lose the kick of driving a turbo, so unless it’s the end of the month and I’m down to my last 50 bucks, I’m more than happy with 5-6l/100km thank you very much.

Renault Clio GT Line and Captur: Styling To Set Them Apart

Although there are design nuances of the Clio GT Line in the Captur and vice versa, you will be forgiven if you didn’t realize the kinship between these two distinctly individual vehicles for they do sport quite different skins, with the Clio GT line adhering to the tried and tested hot hatch layout while the Captur represents the latest trend among the hip and trendy younger generation looking to dominate the streets with a taller ride height and more commanding presence on the road.

The Clio GT Line’s smooth aerodynamic curves and elegant finishes make a bold statement for anyone who wants to be different in a crowded marketplace of bread and butter sedans and hatches. Hints of Renault Sport can be found everywhere on the car; bold frontal styling cues, GT design front and rear bumpers, 17-inch sporty alloy wheels on the exterior, while dark carbon upholstery, gray-trimmed dash and Renault Sport door sills add to the list of look fast parts. In a nutshell, the Clio GT Line is a Clio R.S. “lite”, for those who aspire for the R.S. but simply cannot justify the extra spending to buy and upkeep a highly tuned sports machine.

The Renault Captur on the other hand, offers expressive styling and the driving position of an SUV, the cabin space and modularity of an MPV while behaving more like a sedan on the road. The exterior of the Captur embodies the demeanor of a sprinter at the starting line, poised and ready to unleash its power at any moment. Sporting the company’s current corporate identity, the Captur will appeal to the young and young at heart, and to anyone with a sense of adventure and fun. Inside, the Captur is designed to be occupant-friendly and inviting. The carbon semi-bucket style front seats add a dash of sportiness along with a gray-trimmed steering wheel to elevate the interior of the Captur from spartan to sporty spartan. Its seat covers are removable and can easily be cleaned; a definite plus for a vehicle with adventure in its DNA.

Renault Clio GT Line and Captur: Safe and Sound

Both the Captur and Clio GT Line feature a list of active and passive safety features which is a must for its region of origin (Europe) but sadly a luxury in developing nations such as ours. Both cars have earned 5-stars in the tough as nails Euro NCAP testing procedure, so it is only natural that they come with 4 airbags (frontal, lateral head and thorax airbags), anti-whiplash head restraints, ISOFIX child seat anchorage points and enhanced pedestrian protection, while active safety features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Roll Movement Intervention, ABS, EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) and Hill Start Assist. As far as you, the owner is concerned, you can rest assured that any car coming out of Europe comes with highly advanced safety features that ensure the safety and security of the occupants within.

Creature Comforts

These days, no manufacturer worth its salt would bother to launch any model without the most basic requirements of the modern day car owner. As far as Renault is concerned, both cars tick most of the needed features to keep the driver and occupants happy throughout their journey. First off, the ever useful and sought after Sat/Nav multimedia unit takes pride of place in the central dash area of both cars. The unit comes with the usual array of conveniences including Bluetooth media connectivity and telephony, satellite navigation, 7” touch screen and a multitude of playback options. The unit in the Captur also comes with a reverse camera to get you out of sticky situations, while the Clio GT Line emphasizes on sound quality by introducing Renault Bass Reflex bass optimization sound system to give you the added kick in your music. Keyless entry and start are standard on both cars too, for added convenience.

Renault GT Line and Captur: On The Road

We were given the opportunity to test out both models during a recent drive stint from PJ to PD, covering a couple hundred kilometers with an eco-challenge thrown in to test the fuel efficiency claims by Renault. In the Captur, it took us a while to familiarize ourselves with the buttons and controls but once we got those out of the way it was a pleasant journey ahead. From the get go, it was evident that this was no ordinary crossover. The TCe 120 powerplant in the Captur is quite a joy to drive, with slick upshifts accorded by the 6-speed EDC taking care of our need for speed.

In most situations, the car tends to upshift as early as possible. This did not present any drivability problems for us due to the torquey nature of the turbocharged lump. Having said that, there were times when I decided that we needed to keep up with the rest of the convoy and that’s when the manual mode came in handy. There are no paddle shifters on the steering, but it was easy enough to row through the gears via the shiftronic lever. In my opinion Renault has got it right with said lever; pull down for upshifts (+) and push up for downshifts (-). This arrangement is way more intuitive than the other way around, owing to the fact that when you downshift, the resulting engine braking will throw the car forward along with your hand on the lever; imagine the other way around where your body is being pushed forwards while you’re trying to pull the lever towards you. So far, Peugeot is the only other marque that does it this way. Perhaps it’s a French thing, I don’t know.

On the way back, it was our turn to drive the Clio GT Line. While most of the female journos preferred the Captur for its more solid feel and higher ride height, most of the male journos including myself preferred the more spirited drive of the Clio GT Line. Clearly a difference in priorities, but both cars proved to be competent on long straights at well over 180km/h, with the edge going to the Clio simply due to it being the lighter of the duo. I preferred the Clio GT Line for its keener handling and zippier performance around the bends, though not as refined as the Captur. That being said, I liked the character of the Clio GT Line better, as it comes with great steering feel and it responds immediately to driver input with little body roll.

Fuel efficiency wise, all of us got between 5-6l/100km during the eco-challenge event, which mirrors closely what Renault claims in their brochures. Ironically, the most frugal car happened to be a Captur, with the eventual winner recording 5.2l/100km while the best Clio GT Line managed 5.4l/100km. This clearly demonstrated the superior fuel-sipping properties of Renault’s new power and drivetrain combo in real world situations and not numbers achieved by a test car driving round an oval track.

Summary

At between RM118,000.00 to 123,000.00, the Renault Captur and Clio GT Line represent excellent value for money in an increasingly challenging environment where you either go with plain cars that are frugal or more expensive cars that look good but will oftentimes leave a burning hole in the proverbial pocket. Renault cars have come a long way and they offer you a chance to own a piece of Continental engineering without a heavy price tag and prohibitive maintenance costs like before. And don’t they look good? Especially the Clio GT Line.

On top of that, TC Euro Cars warranties each and every Renault model for 5 years with unlimited mileage, so long as you stick to their prescribed 6 month/10,000km servicing schedule, and at press time there are a total of 13 Renault centers nationwide so you can rest assured of attentive and timely service wherever you may be in the country. Ultimately, at the asking prices you do have quite a few choices, which isn’t a bad thing. At the very least, these new offerings are worth putting on your window shopping list, just to see what the hype is all about.

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