The new Renault Clio introduces several new features in terms of technology, equipment and driving aid systems. But the most notable feature is the inclusion of a version of the small utility with a different powertrain, which the French brand makes available for the first time. It is a hybrid mechanic, E-Tech for Renault, which combines an electric motor with a gasoline engine, aiming to reduce consumption and emissions, bringing them closer to those that characterize diesel engines, without the negative charge (and the threat of being banned soon in many European cities) to which this type of fuel is associated today.
The European Commission has forced car manufacturers to design their models so that the average value of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions does not exceed 95g / km, which is an average value that depends on some factors, such as weight average of vehicles sold. This led the brands to opt for 100% electric models, the fastest way to reduce the range average, as they do not emit CO2 while circulating. But there are many drivers who do not want or cannot opt for this engine, whether it is powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, so it was necessary to find an alternative solution.
Clio E-Tech will save the driver's license and, at the same time, help Renault to meet the emission limits imposed by Brussels
The solution is to electrify a combustion engine, combining a gasoline or diesel unit with an electric motor (and a small battery), designed to lend a hand to the combustion engine, helping it during the start-up phase and accelerations, the times when consumption and emissions traditionally skyrocket. This solution, called hybrid, for combining two types of engine and fuel, is expensive and sophisticated, and is therefore rare in the commercial vehicle segment. Proof of this is that, before the Clio E-Tech, only the Toyota Yaris Hybrid offered a similar solution.
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How does Clio E-Tech work?
The need to reduce CO2 emissions, in order to respect the limits imposed by Brussels, has led manufacturers to find different solutions to minimize consumption, on which CO2 directly depends. And if some are advancing with “short” advantage solutions in this field, which are substantially cheaper, whether through mild hybrid or hybrids with normal engines, Renault has opted for units optimized to maximize the benefits.
Who kicked off the hybrids was Toyota, which after losing millions during the first generation of the Prius, its first hybrid introduced in 1997, with the Japanese betting on ideal engines to maximize the advantages (atmospheric with Atkinson cycle) , has been extending the technology to practically the whole range, replacing diesel engines. Not with a cheap solution, but the one that produces the best results for the driver's license – hence its great popularity.
Renault followed the example of the Japanese manufacturer, even creating a gearbox that it believes is more suited to the European driver, who likes to accelerate more than his Asian or American colleagues in this class of vehicles. The gasoline engine is a 1.6-cycle Atkinson, a technology that favors consumption over power. Hence the engine delivers only 91 hp and 144 Nm of torque, which is complemented by an electric motor of 49 hp and 205 Nm of force. Altogether it is 140 hp, with the battery with 1.2 kWh of capacity (0.85 kWh useful) to ensure that the Clio E-Tech can travel about 5 km in electric mode.
But perhaps the most curious detail of the E-Tech system lies in the gearbox, which can be considered automatic and which allows, according to the manufacturer, to provide up to 15 ratios. Developed with technicians working on the brand's Formula 1 hybrid engines, this box combines three mechanical changes and two electric ones, which allows Renault to avoid the “slip” that is usual in CVT (continuous variation), conventional or even those that use epicycloidal gears. The latter is the one used by the Toyota Yaris and tends that, when accelerating, the increase in engine speed does not always prove to be proportional to the speed gain. Toyota has the best solution on the market, despite some slippage when driving more dynamically, but Renault says it goes further.
As with Yaris, inside the Clio E-Tech box, in addition to the main electric motor with 49 hp, which helps the 1.6 petrol engine, there is a second electric motor with 22 hp, which modulates electrical changes and recharges the battery . It also deals with timing, as this box has no clutch or synchronizers, all to optimize consumption.
Is E-Tech better than gasoline? And diesel?
The aim of E-Tech technology, Renault's hybrid solution, is to reduce consumption and emissions, so there is nothing better than seeing if you can do it. The 140 hp of the Clio E-Tech is more evident in the middle range of the engine regime, since this solution aims to save the wallet and the environment and not assume itself as a sporting alternative. The proof is that the same with the 130 HP 1.3 TCe 1.3 TCe engine reaches 200 km / h and 9 seconds from 0-100 km / h, while the E-Tech announces 186 km / h and 9.9 seconds, respectively. However, while the TCe 130 announces a consumption of 5.7 liters, corresponding to 130g of CO2, the E-Tech stands for 4.3 liters and 98g of CO2. Circulating in the city, where you travel 80% of the time in electric mode, consumption drops to 3.8 l / 100 km.
If, compared to the gasoline engine, the E-Tech hybrid has obvious advantages, the balance is much greater when compared to the diesel Clio. Even in the price, which is identical (€ 23,200). Compared to the 1.5 dCi version of 115 hp, which is the closest power, the diesel points to a speed of 197 km / h (11 km / h more than the E-Tech) and an acceleration to 100 km / h h 9.9 seconds (exactly the same value). Consumption is practically identical (4.3 liters for diesel and 4.2 for E-Tech), but emissions favor the hybrid because, with 98g, comfortably beats Clio's 110g diesel.
With LPG, the comparison is more complex, with costs favoring Clio bi-fuel, which burns liquefied petroleum gas. However, the announced emissions are around 111g, which explains why Brussels has already informed that the future of bi-fuels is natural gas and not double gasoline / LPG, for environmental reasons.
Is the hybrid Clio E-Tech more expensive?
The new Clio in the E-Tech version is proposed for € 23,200, with the level of Intens equipment, a value similar to that required by the Clio diesel, equipped with the 1.5 dCi 115 Intens. And if we compare the new hybrid with the petrol version of similar power, the TCe 130, this is slightly more expensive (€ 23,930), even though it includes EDC box and RS Line equipment level.
But, for companies and leading professionals, Clio E-Tech has some tricks up its sleeve, in the form of tax advantages. For starters, it allows you to recover 60% of VAT, which reduces the cost of the vehicle to around € 20,600, making it substantially more competitive. To the VAT recovery, the hybrid Clio adds a reduction of another tax, in the case of autonomous taxation, of which it only supports 10%.
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Is the Clio E-Tech better than the Yaris Hybrid?
In order to determine the value of Renault's new hybrid compared to the market's leading specialist in engines of this type, it is necessary to compare the Clio E-Tech with its only rival, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, until now the only hybrid in the segment B. The current Yaris will be replaced in October, with a new generation that is expected to be more expensive, as it includes more equipment, in addition to promising an additional 15% power and 20% reduction in consumption.
The model that is currently on sale assembles an atmospheric 1.5 four-cylinder engine, operating according to the Atkinson cycle, which delivers 75 hp. Integrated in the box, which is of the continuous variation type by epicycloidal gear, are two electric motors. The main one, designed to help the gasoline engine, has 61 hp and 169 Nm, and there is also a second engine that modulates the box, creating virtual changes. According to the manufacturer, the battery has a capacity of 0.94 kWh and uses nickel-metal hydride technology, a less efficient solution than lithium-ion. In total, the Japanese utility benefits from 101 hp (74 kW).
In practical terms, the hybrid version of Toyota, smaller and less powerful than the new competitor of Renault, is less fast (165 against 186 km / h) and less fast to accelerate (11.8 against 9.9 seconds of 0 -100 km / h). In terms of costs and emissions, the current Yaris Hybrid announces an average consumption of 4.8 liters, corresponding to 109g of CO2, being overtaken by the Clio E-Tech (4.3 liters and 98g).
But in October, a month after the hybrid Clio arrived in our country, Toyota will introduce the new generation of Yaris, which we have already discussed here. A 1.5 liter engine will debut, but with three cylinders to be more compact and lighter, as well as a more efficient and lighter lithium-ion battery. And although the manufacturer has not yet revealed all the characteristics of the new Yaris Hybrid, it is known that the total power is expected to evolve around 15%, while consumption …