Va Va Voom down to the Co-operative Motor Group

Almost everyone likes listening to music in their cars, so Renault is on fairly safe ground with its Clio I-Music special editions.

An upgraded specification including Bluetooth connectivity and a decent stereo with the capacity to link up music carrying mobile phones or portable MP3 players adds value to the always impressive Clio package.

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. 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.

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 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.

The Clio’s generous size gives plenty of passenger space and the quality of the cabin environment also impresses. There’s a generously proportioned boot of 288 litres. Beneath the skin, Renault’s focus has been on increasing refinement and today’s model features upgraded sound-deadening measures to combat engine, transmission and wind noise.

The Clio I-Music models come in at £750 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 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.

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. The musical dimension aside, this is standard special edition stuff but when the formula works, why change it?

l The Renault Clio I-Music is available right now at The Co-operative Motor Group from as little as £159 per month on Renault Lease. Plus, between the 9th and 19th September, the dealership will be holding a ten-day Va Va Voom event to celebrate Renault’s sponsorship of Rihanna’s ‘Loud’ tour. Everyone who takes a test-drive during the event will get a free Rihanna CD and be entered into a prize draw to win tickets to see the artist live. As a real treat for music lovers there are even four pairs of back-stage tickets to be won, giving eight lucky people the chance to meet Rihanna.

Even if you don’t take a test-drive, there will be plenty happening on-site, including a guest appearance from Formula Renault BARC Championship driver, Matt Mason. Due to complete his first season of professional racing this month with a final race at Silverstone, Matt will be making a pit-stop at the dealership to showcase his car, with its Renaultsport 2.0 engine, and to answer any questions visitors may have.

To find out more and to book a test-drive, visit the dealership on Southwell Road West, Mansfield NG18 4LW or call 01623 595370.