The Renault brand in Malaysia has a longstanding reputation for being a left-field choice among many aspiring car buyers for various reasons, mostly negative and discouraging. These perceptions are widely the consequence of pluralistic ignorance, a communal/social bias that came to existence during the Japanese’s unprecedented success in winning customers over during after the ’80s.

Things have certainly spun in favour for most French brands in recent years, thanks largely to their modern design appeal and increasingly competitive pricing. And if you haven’t noticed, Renault Group together with sole Malaysian franchise holder TC Euro Cars introduced six new models just this year alone, with the newest B-Segment duo being the Clio GT Line and Captur.2015-Renault-Captur-Drive-11

QUICK FACTS

Name Renault Clio GT Line Renault Captur
Engine 1,197cc; 4-cyl turbo, direct injection
Transmission 6-speed Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC)
Max Power 118 hp @ 4,900 rpm
Max Torque 190 Nm @ 2,000 rpm
Price (OTR without Insurance) RM118,000 RM123,000

It’s unquestionably a steep uphill battle for both models, but they bring turbocharging to the table; a costly bit of kit that was reserved for the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost and VW Polo TSI – until now, or in this segment at least. Renault Malaysia claims that the Clio GT’s direct injected 1.2-litre turbocharged engine performs equal to that of a naturally aspirated 1.8-litre engine, if not better. This engine is also shared with the Renault Captur.

Update: The Renault Captur’s 1.2-litre engine is in fact a direct injection unit, as clarified by Tan Chong Euro Cars (Renault Malaysia). 

EXTERIOR

As we’ve said earlier, the Clio GT Line easily stands out among the crowd in terms of design appeal. It’s one of the best looking B-Segment hatches on sale right now and is well presented with 17-inch anthracite dark metal wheels wrapped with 205/45 profiled rubbers. Like the Clio R.S. 200, the rear door handles are hidden next to the C-pillars, which makes for a really sporty, coupe-like look. The LED daytime running lights from the more hardcore R.S 200 variant is also offered as standard here, while the fog lamp binnacles, side mirrors and lower rear bumper all are finished in contrasting colours.2015-Renault-Clio-Gt-Line-Test-Drive-15

The Renault Captur on the other hand, doesn’t turn heads quite as easily as the Clio GT on the runway, but it’ll be hard to mistake the Captur for anything else in its class. It’s not the best looking B-Segment crossover, but it certainly is one of the most adept and frugal, as we’ll find out in a bit. Headlights on both the Clio GT and Captur are halogen, but the crossover benefits from a pair of projectors as opposed to the reflectors on the hatch. The tyres here are also of a higher profile – 205/55 series and rides on two-tone 17-inch wheels.2015-Renault-Captur-Drive-6

What’s unique on the Captur is its dual-tone exterior finish. There’s only four colour options – Arizona Orange, Pacific Blue, Ivory (white) and Beige, however the roof is finished in a different colour, either in gloss black or gloss white.

INTERIOR

Both these French B-Segments pack a mixed bag of impressions in the cabin and they don’t quite exude the same sense of desirability when compared to their respective exterior styling, much less when compared to the current crop of competition. Granted, both these cars have some age to it (launched globally back in 2012, the Captur later in 2013), so here’s hoping that the facelift variants will iron out the ‘French’ in cabin design.

2015-Renault-Clio-Gt-Line-Test-Drive-31
Renault Clio GT Line

The Clio GT Line and Captur’s interior design are largely similar – if not identical, save for the seats and centre dashboard. There’s a chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel with two rocker switches built into the left and right side for convenient on-the-fly cruise control operation, and behind it a bowtie-esque instrument cluster, if you will. Paddle shifters aren’t available on both models, so you’ll have to rely on rocking the gear lever for some manual fun.

Plastic is extensively used in the car, but the Koreans do a better job at making them feel less cheap than it already is. If anything, quality is on par with the Japanese, if not a touch better. The centre dash which houses Renault’s 7-inch MediaNav touchscreen gives us the impression that its existence is more of an afterthought, including the air conditioning controls built right below the head unit. Move the eyes further down and you’ll find a keycard slot and right next to it, the push-start ignition. This layout will get some getting used to, though it’s not entirely a surprising placement after seeing it in the Renault Fluence.

2015-Renault-Captur-Drive-19
Renault Captur

Going back to the seats – both models only come with fabric seats, however the Captur features a class’ first removable fabric cover (via zippers) for easy cleaning. It’s a convenience not many carmakers tend to include in their products, so don’t be surprised if the Captur doesn’t smell like a sweat-soaked carpet five years down the road. Finishing off the interior for both models are the four-speaker configuration (they don’t sound bad, though) and four-airbag count.

PERFORMANCE

Now, the performance area is where these French cars excel in their class. They aren’t the most powerful (the Mazda CX-3 takes the cake), but they are certainly the most fuel economical. As mentioned above, both the Captur and Clio GT Line come with a modern 1.2-litre engine, featuring direct injection and turbocharging technology. As a result, the engine makes a respectable 118 horsepower at 4,900 rpm and 190 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm.2015-Renault-Clio-Gt-Line-Test-Drive-45

Both engines are paired to the same six-speed Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) gearbox driving the front wheels. The Clio GT Line impresses even before we drove it, simply because it shares the same suspension setup as the Clio R.S 200. Up front, it gets McPherson struts, while the rear settles for a torsion beam setup with coil springs and an anti-roll bar. The same tale is told with the Captur, though we feel that the Clio handles road undulations far better than the Captur – more on this later.

THE DRIVE

It’s a shame that people acquaint Renault cars as being unreliable and costly to maintain, because if there’s one thing that deserves an eminence of such magnitude is the way they drive. Renault’s range of superminis in particular, have long tug the heartstrings of driving enthusiasts the world over. For RM118k, the Renault Clio GT Line administers a solid dose of fun around the bends, and ranks easily in the top three of best handling B-Segment cars that’s currently on sale. Unfortunately, we only had the entire length of Elite Highway and an hour’s duration (per driver) to sample the Clio, so we can’t conclusively decide whether it handles better than the Mazda2 or the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost.Renault Clio GT Line-1

But if it’s that fun to drive, something has got to give, and it’s the ride quality. The Clio’s ride quality proved to be a fairly forgiving despite riding on 17-inch wheels. However, ride comfort in the rear is a tad too harsh for our liking – a shortcoming of the torsion beam suspension. This discomfort is especially pronounced in the Captur, but take it away from terrible road conditions and you’ll be all smiles – more so when you toss it in and out of corners. When crossing over speed humps, just remember to recite your meditation mantras, because you’ll need to really slow down.

You must be wondering, at this juncture, how the 1.2-litre engine stacks up in real world driving. In terms of outright performance, it edges the Volkswagen Polo’s 1.2-litre TSI engine (103 hp and 175 Nm) by a slight margin, thanks to the French engine’s better output figures. Overtaking cars on the freeway is a breeze, that’s until the engine runs out of breath somewhere between 500 to 800 rpm below the rev limit. The engine’s sprightly nature means you won’t be having any trouble getting the car up to three-digit speeds. Couple that to the quick-shifting dual clutch gearbox and you’ll have yourself a tamer Clio RS by the wheel.2015-Renault-Captur-Drive-2

Like we said earlier, it’s not the most powerful engine of the lot, but it is the most frugal with a claimed combined cycle of 5.2 litres per 100km (5.4 litres with the Captur). Curious, we hit the ECO button and put the car through a 50km stretch of stead-footed driving, all to see how realistic Renault’s claims were. Upon activating ECO mode, the car’s computers immediately numb the throttle and transmission mapping, sipping fuel as thriftily as Macklemore does his shopping. Some overtakings, hypermiling and 40 agonising minutes later, our labour bore fruits – both the Clio and Captur managed 4.9 litres per 100km!

Our day’s drive from Petaling Jaya to Port Dickson and back proved quite literally to be a race against time. This means limiting the bulk of our journey to using the highways, hence the lack of involvement in the handling department. Wind noise was relatively well isolated at 110 km/h, even when the wind gusted in our direction. NVH qualities also fared favourably, however road noise starts creeping in as you climb above 100km/h. Nothing a better set of tyres and some rubber undercoating can’t fix, right?

IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?

Both the Clio and Captur are two relatively decent all-rounders that score exceptionally well in the performance and handling department. If you’re looking for a continental car that’s easy on the wallet (hold your horses, I’ll justify that in a second) in terms of running and ownership costs, the Clio GT Line and Captur may well be the car for you. 2015-Renault-Captur-Drive-1

But which between the two should you get? That depends. If you fancy yourself a flashy looking car that’s distinctly non-Asian and can handle all the twisty bits you chuck at it, then settle for the Clio. The Captur on the other hand, suits city dwellers better thanks to its higher ground clearance and larger storage capacity. It’s not a true 4×4 to say the least, but it’s a crossover that serves its purpose as well as the HR-V and Ford EcoSport. If you’re constantly travelling within our flash-flood-prone cities, the Captur is a no-brainer.

There are two good reasons why either one is the car for you. Firstly, running costs. The road tax for both cars cost just RM55 annually, and drive it consistently with a light right foot and you’ll easily stretch that visit to the petrol station by a few more days. Secondly, and more importantly, both cars are packaged with a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty programme that’s fully backed by TC Euro Cars. This means, for the purposes of claiming a faulty or damaged component, you won’t have to go through a third party hanky-panky insurer just to get your ride fixed.

COMPARISONS

The Clio GT Line isn’t exactly a cheap selection from the densely populated B-Segment range, so for this round of comparison, it’ll go against some of the best equipped and most popular cars in the category. This showdown will include the Ford Fiesta EcoBoost, Mazda2 hatchback and segment leader Honda Jazz.

Renault Clio GT Line Ford Fiesta Sport+ EcoBoost Mazda2 1.5L Skyactiv-G Hatchback Honda Jazz Grade V
ENGINE
Type inline-4, direct injection turbo, DOHC inline-3, direct injection turbo, DOHC inline-4, direct injection, DOHC inline-4, SOHC
Displacement cc 1,197cc 998cc 1,496cc 1,497cc
Max Power hp/rpm 118/4,900 123/6,000 114/6,000 118/6,600
Max Torque Nm/rpm 190/2,000 170/1,400 148/4,000 145/4,600
STEERING
Type Electric Power Steering Electric Power Steering Electric Power Steering Electric Power Steering
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission 6-speed EDC 6-speed DCT 6-speed auto CVT
SUSPENSION
Front MacPherson Strut MacPherson Strut MacPherson Strut MacPherson Strut
Rear Torsion Beam Torsion Beam Torsion Beam Torsion Beam
BRAKES
Front Ventilated Disc Ventilated Disc Ventilated Disc Ventilated Disc
Rear Drum Drum Solid Disc Drum
TYRE & WHEELS
Tyre 205/45 R17 195/50 R16 185/60 R16 185/55 R16
Wheels 17-inch alloy 16-inch alloy 16-inch alloy 16-inch alloy
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
Overall Length mm 4,062mm 3,982mm 4,060mm 3,955mm
Overall Width mm 1,732mm 1,722mm 1,695mm 1,694mm
Overall Height mm 1,488mm 1,489mm 1,470mm 1,524mm
Wheelbase mm 2,589mm 2,489mm 2,570mm 2,530mm
Max Kerb Weight kg 1,071 kg N/A 1,056 kg 1,081 kg
Luggage Capacity (VDA) Litres 300 litres 276 litres 220 litres 363 litres
FUEL
Tank Capacity Litres 45 litres 43 litres 44 litres 40 litres
Consumption litres per 100km 5.2 litres 5.3 litres 5.1 litres 5.6 litres
PERFORMANCE
Max Speed km/h 199 km/h N/A 184 km/h N/A
0 to 100 km/h sec 9.9 second N/A 10 Seconds N/A
Price RM RM118,000.00 RM93,888.00 RM85,470.00 RM84,363.79

On paper, the Clio GT Line pretty much has the upper hand over the trio it’s compared against. It’s larger in terms of dimensions, and has a sizeable boot space eclipsed only by the king Honda Jazz. For RM118k, you pay the cheapest road tax (RM55) per annum despite having the most powerful engine of the bunch. Pair that to the larger fuel tank and a frugal engine and you have yourself quite a worthy package, not before forgetting how rewarding it feels to drive around and out the corners.2015-Renault-Clio-Gt-Line-Test-Drive-5

Sure, it costs RM25k more than the already-exceptional Ford Fiesta EcoBoost, but the Clio promises exclusivity – something the maverick in you will come to appreciate, if you’re the kind, of course. On the other end of the spectrum, you have other formidable offerings like the Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI and Suzuki Swift Sport (the latter is a must-buy if you want some proper rowing action), but they’ve aged and are no longer in the popular run.

However, the Clio’s crossover brethren, the Renault Captur, faces an even stiffer competition as it battles against Malaysia’s home favourite, the Honda HR-V. That said, the Captur holds one competitive advantage over its rivals with its turbocharged engine. Let’s spread the spec sheet and see how the Captur fares against the HR-V and the Mazda CX-3.

Renault Captur Honda HR-V Mazda CX-3
ENGINE
Type inline-4, direct injection, turbo, DOHC inline-4, SOHC inline-4, direct injection, DOHC
Displacement cc 1,197cc 1,799cc 1,998cc
Max Power hp/rpm 118/4,900 140/6,500 156/6,000
Max Torque Nm/rpm 190/2,000 172/4,300 204/2,800
STEERING
Type Electric Power Steering Electric Power Steering Electric Power Steering
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission 6-speed EDC CVT 6-speed auto
SUSPENSION
Front MacPherson Strut MacPherson Strut MacPherson Strut
Rear Torsion Beam Torsion Beam Torsion Beam
BRAKES
Front Ventilated Disc Ventilated Disc Ventilated Disc
Rear Drum Solid Disc Solid Disc
TYRE & WHEELS
Tyre 205/55 R17 215/60 R16 215/50 R188
Wheels 17-inch alloy 16-inch alloy 18-inch alloy
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
Overall Length mm 4,122mm 4,294mm 4,275mm
Overall Width mm 1,778mm 1,772mm 1,765mm
Overall Height mm 1,567mm 1,605mm 1,535mm
Wheelbase mm 2,606mm 2,610mm 2,570mm
Max Kerb Weight kg 1,180 kg 1,249 kg 1,211 kg
Luggage Capacity (VDA) Litres 455 litres 437 litres 350 litres
FUEL
Tank Capacity Litres 45 litres 50 litres 48 litres
Consumption litres per 100km 5.4 litres 6.6 litres TBA
PERFORMANCE
Max Speed km/h 192 km/h N/A N/A
0 to 100 km/h sec 10.9 second N/A N/A
Price RM RM123,000.00 RM114,744.77 RM131,218.50

The Captur’s vital stats alone can’t quite match the Japanese duo it’s up against, but like the Clio GT, its strongest points are performance, handling and for what it’s worth – value for money. It is above all the only model in its class to feature a turbocharged engine. Despite that, the Captur won’t quite enjoy the HR-V’s success (that crossover racks up sales figure faster than you can pronounce the two-syllabled Captur) simply because it isn’t a volume player, and it’s perhaps more niche than the Ford EcoSport and Peugeot 2008 combined.2015-Renault-Captur-Drive-7

WILL I BUY THEM?

In hindsight, I can vividly recall the Clio and Captur’s composure when it was put through its paces. But for personal reasons (and for having an unshakable bias towards manual sub-200 horsepower pocket rockets), I’d rather spend the money on a C-Segment car than on vehicles one segment down. It’s not because the Renaults are too pricey, but like I said, my preferences lean towards cars with a larger footprint that will meet all the demands of my long distance travels.

If you’re captivated by their looks and are intrigued to find out how they drive, do yourself the favour and pay your nearest Renault showroom a visit. Driving pleasure awaits.


IMAGE GALLERY

Renault Clio GT Line 

Renault Captur


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Matthew H. Tong
A straightforward, fun-loving guy who appreciates the superficiality of a car's appeal, but his admiration for anything on four wheels gives him no reason to neglect the makings of a car. He still believes that fun comes with three pedals and a stick.