IN OUR GARAGE: A Formidable Clio IV

Poised for a stunning facelift in 2018, we take a last look at the Clio IV and the value of buying one now.

Gusheshe has always been a fan of the Renault Clio, especially its sporty derivatives that never fail to deliver excitement and performance. Look no further than the spiky F1s of the late noughties and their popularity in Johannesburg, to understand how South Africans dig fast Renaults and their sporty lines - decals and all bru!

The Renault Clio F1 Team R27, 2009... Boet!

So we, like you, were also a little bit disappointed then when the Clio III got its facelift in 2012 and went from a compact and smashing boy-racer to a larger and more sophisticated mommy transporter. Sadly, Clio also got swept up in the early millennium trend that has seen many awesome and smaller cars gain a couple of kilos around the edges, the most noticeable of the many of course - the Mini Cooper - and how it fixed what was never broken and destroyed our favourite small car.

Read this if you don't believe us.

So, on the cusp of the Clio's facelift - due in 2018 and absolutely stunning if we're to believe the face of the Megane and the many renderings of it across the web - we take a look at the current Clio IV, the fatty, and feel around its love handles one last time for the final bits of value late into what should generally be considered an unsuccessful life span from a purely Clio-loving point of view.

Let's make it clear from the outset: We always thought that the Clio IV was nice looking since its arrival way back in 2012. In fact, its ass has always been the most attractive in the segment and its wide stance is beyond segment impressive. We just thought, for its segment, it was big - too big - and because of that, with shallow distaste, we cast it aside for skinnier and sexier alternatives as we didn't conform to the societal trend then that insisted fat asses were the next big thing. But, as it is, fat asses are in, donned proudly now by all in the smaller segments and we too, shamefully, have a thing for them.

Fast forward a few years and Gusheshe isn't shy to back track on its original apprehensions and believes wholeheartedly that a change of taste is possible, especially when it comes to cars. Cleverly designed cars are never designed for the now after all, but for the years following its release, which should ensure a successful and lucrative long term campaign before a facelift inevitably arrives.

With that in mind, the 0,9 Clio Turbo Authentique in our garage currently is here for one last long-term road test to see, once and for all, if it was indeed worth Renault's time making and most importantly, still worth your money buying on the cusp of its new face next year, in a world with more popular rivals.

First impressions first. The answer is yes. As a car, it is exceptionally impressive and Gusheshe prefers it to its closest rivals - the Fiesta and the Polo - and much of that has to do with the tiny little engine that screams like a race car when in boost; it feels classier than the Fiesta and more cultured than the Polo, meaning it feels better made than the Ford and more elite than the common VW. Most importantly, what you get with the Clio that you do not get with its competitors is an overwhelming feeling that you're in more of a car than you paid for and there is surely nothing better than a feeling of value for money, especially when speaking about cars in this price bracket.

The engine is still an astounding piece of work and it blows our mind that 900 cc's of turbo'd power allow you to recklessly cruise at 160km/h as if it was nothing at all; in a secure cabin that feels cushioned, manicured and well made enough that it exonerates your father of the myth that French cars are inferior, which of course, was a 90s rumour that he perpetuated at the braai that holds no truth when you drive this here Clio. The cabin quality is astounding, bar the right-handed radio dial behind the steering, and the feel of it - specifically the center console - is very slick in mirror black.

Much of its impressive presence today has to do with the Clio's delayed character, which has aged well with time and has only really come to the fore recently as its competitors fade on out into their next facelift: Cars, like the taste and nuances in wine, time their notes differently and this here taste of the French note is finally Clio's 15 minutes to claim, while the others disappear into more expensive versions of themselves.

Polo has just released its new shape and it's as boring as can be, and looks designed for the driver who couldn't afford a Golf 7 - because it looks the same as a Golf 7. Be assured however, it will exude quality and remain the most popular in the segment. The new Fiesta is spicier than the Polo and looks the business; be assured it will remain popular among the Ford-loving faithful and a certain character of South African-flavoured buyer that will always buy a Ford for no particular reason other than the fact that they have money to buy one. Still, a great buy regardless.

The Clio however, will come along with its facelift a little bit later, and despite the fact that its concept suggests it will be better looking than both of its competitors, it will likely remain less popular.

We're not entirely sure how the new Clio will look but here are three renderings the web has to offer. Most likely? Image 2. But how we would love Concept 3!

If you are to compare the current Clio however, to its contemporary model competitors - not their facelifts as seen above - the 2017 Clio 0,9 Turbo Authentique is still R20 000 cheaper than its nearest Fiesta rival at R206K, and R50 000 cheaper than the Polo! That gap will balloon when its competitors get sold with new faces and this here Clio IV will seem more value than ever, even if you enjoy it only for 18 months or so before its new face inevitably arrives.

Is the Clio IV still a good buy then? Well, the Clio IV was always a good buy and always offered more value, and now more than ever you should buy it if this segment is your fetish, and value your goal. You will be astounded: It feels more expensive than it is and is Megane like in its delivery. You'll be satisfied with drive quality that is on par with a Golf 6. That's what Renault has been trying to say with its fat ass, and that's what simplicity in cabin design - cough, Fiesta - will offer you these days if you dare buy French. Finesse.

The Renault 0,9 Clio IV Authentique is an enjoyable throwback, now 5 years old. But never has it felt more worth the buy than it does right now in 2017.