Behind the wheel of the Renault Clio E-Tech: The hybrid hybrid apprentice F1 will delight in consumption and driving

Renault is no newcomer to electrification, yet it has only begun to combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor in a production car. And first impressions suggest that the wait has paid off!

At the beginning, it didn’t look so idyllic. On the way from Prague to Dlouhá Lhota, clouds were chasing, sometimes light showers and we arrived with fears that we would not end up completely soaked and with minimal driving experiences. Shortly before the destination, however, the sky brightened, the sun peeked out and it was just on the shirt outside. It’s as if someone up there wants us to enjoy at least one more nice car event before the end of the turbulent year 2020.

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The main stars? Electrified news of the French Renault – hybrid Clio E-Tech a plug-in hybridní Captur and Mégane E-Tech. Today we are talking about the former, but don’t worry, it’s even time for a pair of drawers on our website. Symbolically, I tested the novelties of the French brand in the same week, at the beginning of which I returned a long-tested electric car Zoe to Renault. You can also look forward to the final verdict on this electric toy car … but now let’s get to the main thing!

An inconspicuous saver

Right at the entrance to the Dlouhá Lhota Estate, we notice Renault’s worn-out novelties. Of the electrified ones, the Clio E-Tech is the least noticeable, you can hardly distinguish it from the classic Clio. Although its task is to save and produce lower emissions, electric brands must get a taste (plug-in hybrids will reach them). Unlike Captur and Mégan, there is no other lid with a charging connector in the socket. Clio E-Tech is a “classic” hybrid that can do without the juice supplied externally.

You can find more clues about hybrid drive in the bowels in the interior. In the chapel with the instrument panel, we notice indications with the battery capacity, and in the middle display of the multimedia system we see a redesigned offer of driving modes – My Sense, Sport and Eco. You can also project energy flow and fuel consumption data on the screen. Thanks to the clear graph, you can easily find out when you used up how much fuel and when the primary electricity consumption played. I must not forget another inconspicuous, but all the more important element. Although the Clio E-Tech is “just” a common hybrid, following the example of pure electric cars, it receives a mode with increased recuperation. In many situations, the car can be controlled with a single pedal.

Geny formule 1

So I originally wanted to write the genes of the champions, but the last master laurels of Renault as a factory team from 2005 and 2006 are already really bearded. In addition, acquired long before the advent of the so-called hybrid era of Formula 1. Renault returned to it after a break of several years only in 2015, although in the meantime it acted as a supplier of powertrains to the masterful Red Bull. I don’t write this turn by chance… The hybrid system of Clia E-Tech (and in fact also Captura and Méganu E-Tech) is in many ways based on the experience and knowledge that the French carmaker gained in the F1 championship.

The Clio is built on the modular alliance platform CMF-B, for which the installation of an electrified drive was planned from the beginning. However, Renault took the construction of its first production hybrid a little differently. He didn’t take it as an internal combustion car, to which he would attach some of those electric motors and a flashlight. From the beginning, he understood it as an electric car, which the combustion unit will help with a higher load. Because electrification was taken into account, it has no negative effect on the practicality of the car. The space at the back and the volume of the luggage compartment are identical to the dot.

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The fact that Renault did not decide to just copy from more experienced competitors is also proved by 150 registered patents related to hybrid technology. The heart of the hybrid Clia is a 1.6-liter atmospheric four-cylinder. The basis is identical to the 16th SCe, which we know from earlier Renault and Dacia cars, but this unit is considerably modernized. The engine works in the Atkinson cycle, it has other pistons or connecting rods. But most of all, it works with a high-voltage starter / generator (HSG) and an electric motor built into the gearbox housing. The burner delivers 68 kW, the main electric motor 36 kW, HSG can add another 15 kW. Renault boasts a system output of 103 kW (140 hp), which should be more than enough for a Clia-sized car. We must not forget the battery with a capacity of 1.2 kWh, which adds 38 kg of weight.

The key to success is the automated Multi-Mode transmission (see video above), which connects the internal combustion engine with two electric motors. It is a sophisticated solution that can offer 15 different variants of cooperation of individual engines. All the connection is via gears, in fact they are two gearboxes in one body with two gears for the main electric motor and four for the internal combustion engine. Mechanical synchronization is replaced by electrical synchronization, which balances the speed of the gears before changing gears. There is also an efficient system of kinetic energy recovery (15 or 50 kW) during gas release and braking. The intensity can be influenced by the driver by including the mentioned mode B.

Pleasant ride

One of the advantages of this whole sophisticated system is purely electric starts in all circumstances. For the carmaker, the table values ​​are key. Clio E-Tech promises an average consumption of 4.4 liters in the city and emissions of up to 91 grams of CO2 per kilometer. But, of course, I was interested in practice.

For a more detailed evaluation, including a description of the individual driving modes and functions of the hybrid system, we have to wait until the traditional editorial test. Renault prepared for us a roughly 30 km long section, which I completed in a train with other colleagues behind an instructor who was connected to us by radio and instructed us all the way about the hybrid drive. The first ride can therefore be understood only as such a small tasting, from which I still took at least a handful of first impressions.

You will immediately notice quiet and agile starts that are not far from the electric Renault Zoe. The internal combustion engine logs on later, or when the accelerator pedal is depressed harder. However, if you do not closely monitor the digital instrument panel, you will hardly recognize the alternation of the individual modes and the connection of the internal combustion engine. I completed the route with the B and B in the My Sense mode. This is a mode in which you leave the work of the hybrid system completely on the car. It calculates and tries to come up with the most efficient use.

Even though we are in a row, we are not brakes of traffic. We try to simulate a fairly common suburban commute to work. First a few kilometers of districts, then the passage of Příbram accompanied by several stops and departures at traffic lights and finally a piece of highway. Paradoxically, the hybrid plays into the cards, because a large part of us go downhill and I intensively recover. A really short section of hill is enough for a small battery to “improve” the status indicator by a few bars. And when it’s at least half full, you can trigger a purely electric ride at the touch of a button. In ideal conditions, the Clio E-Tech can cover several kilometers. But it’s time for a classic test.

The system is an inconspicuous but pleasant companion. Reactions to gas are immediate and mode B does not surprise me with significant braking, because I have several weeks in the electric Zoe. However, the inexperienced user may be surprised by the intensity of the braking (however, even after releasing the accelerator pedal, the brake light comes on and the car decelerates to some 7 km / h, where you have to reach for a conventional brake), but this is just a habit. Renault says that the Clio E-Tech can handle up to 80% of city driving on electricity alone. And emotionally we have no reason to disbelieve. We drive through Příbram in silence and the alarm clocks really show that the system uses only electricity. At the exit from the city, the pedal goes to the floor at least once, and in the Clio, all 140 horses are active, lively to the world. I wouldn’t worry about the dynamics of faster moves.

Finally, we end our 30-kilometer circuit with a consumption of 4.8 liters and 2.8 kWh. These are really nice numbers, given that there weren’t many opportunities to predict in the train. And it was no accident. A colleague going to the “déčko” reports 5 liters at the finish line, another even 4.6 liters. I believe that the appetite could be reduced by a few tenths, at least the value declared on the tables. Well, tell me yourself, when was the last time we could write this?

I wonder how the technique will perform in longer-term testing. There we will focus in detail on the tuning of the chassis, the setting of which, of course, had to be adjusted for the hybrid, but there was no time left for a deeper examination. However, our experienced training instructor says that tuning in for him is perhaps the best of the current offer of the new Clia. Well, we’d love to see for ourselves!

Renault Clio E-Tech (technical data and Czech prices)
E-Tech 140
Displacement [cm3] 1598
Cylinders / valves 4/4
Transmission Multimode automatic
Max. internal combustion engine power [kW/min] 67/5600
Max electric motor power [kW] 36
Max. starter-generator power [kW] 15
System performance [kW] 103
Max. internal combustion engine torque [Nm/min] 144/3200
Max. electric motor torque [Nm] 205
Max. starter-generator torque [Nm] 50
Battery capacity [kWh] 1,2
Acceleration 0-100 km / h [s] 9,9
Max. speed [km/h] 180
Consumption city / outside / station wagon [l/100 km] 4,4-4,7/4-4,4/3,6-4
Emise CO2 [g/100 km] 82-91
Luggage space volume with reserve / without [l] 243/299
Operating weight / load capacity [kg] 1313/520
Cena Zen [Kč] 474.000
Intense Dinner [Kč] 509.000
Cena R.S. Line [Kč] 539.000

Top 8 by RNews.cz

I also asked my colleague Aleš from the magazine for a word RNews.czwhich of our articles you know for sure. Aleš is an independent expert in Renault technology and is often the first to inform us about important news concerning the French carmaker and the entire group. It is no coincidence that the technical specialist of the World of Engines, Martin Vaculík, also likes to cooperate with him on his specials. Aleš, I asked him to make a few points about the new Clio E-Tech, which fascinated him after the first races. Here are:

  • The all-new hybrid platform that Renault has been developing for almost 10 years and unlike the vast majority of the competition is designed the other way around. The developers conceived the system as an electric car with an internal combustion engine, not as a classic car with electric motors.
  • A great technical interest is the transmission, which is basically the center of the entire hybrid system. Switches between different drive combinations. This is Renault’s own development and a truly revolutionary feat in the field of hybrids. The clutch is missing between the engine and the gearbox, the individual speeds are not synchronized. The gearbox is of the sequential type, in principle as in racing cars. There are two speeds for the electric motor and four speeds for the internal combustion engine. In total, however, it can conjure up 15 modes in which the hybrid can operate (various combinations of two electric motors and an internal combustion engine).
  • The hybrid with 140 horsepower without recharging represents an interesting compromise between modern technology and affordable price.
  • The battery above the rear axle has contributed to better weight distribution, and together with the retuned chassis, the Clio behaves almost like a C-segment car on the road.
  • The hybrid system is very user-friendly, it is easy to switch between different modes, as well as to easily activate the fully electric mode.
  • In all circumstances, the car starts with an electric motor. It will therefore offer very similar experiences as a 100% electric car, ie especially an immediate reaction to gas.
  • Escape between hybrids is another function known from electric cars – mode B, ie the mode of increased recuperation. The battery charges faster and the car brakes sharply when the accelerator pedal is released (the brake lights even come on at the rear). With a little practice, the Clio can be driven with almost one pedal, like a real electric car.
  • The system impresses with the efficiency of recuperation, the battery is charged really fast. If recharging through recuperation is not enough, the internal combustion engine will start, which will charge the battery relatively quickly.

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