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Like A Jazz But No Pizzazz.
Renaults new Clio-Based MPV Looks Good, Does The Job
Rating: **** - out of 5
Manchester - If people had the self knowledge to put their egos to one side and just buy a car based on need, nobody would buy anything bigger or more expensive than a mini MPV like the Honda Jazz, or the latest pretender in the sector, the Renault Modus.
Mini MPVs do it all. They can seat 4 in comfort, 5 at a pinch, with plenty of head and leg room. They drive just fine, with the power to cruise all day on motorways at speeds way past the legal limit. And they have such flexibility that they can be transformed almost immediately into vans for that visit to the dump with the rear seats down, or take in a couple of mountain bikes without having to dismantle them.
Unfortunately, they dont generate much of feel good factor, unless you like the idea of smugness generated by the knowledge that youve made an intelligent buying decision.
Ive owned a Jazz now for about 2 years, and it is a truly remarkable little machine. (If you think Ive beaten my ego, think again, my other car is a BMW 330d) The rear seats fold absolutely flat into the rear floor with a minimum of effort. They split one third/two thirds, which frees up a huge amount of flexible carrying space. The quality of the cabin is magnificent. The car hasnt missed a beat in two years. The Constantly Variable Automatic transmission works well, and will allow you, if you were inclined to be juvenile, to wind up the engine at traffic lights and catapult ahead of the pack. You can switch it to a seven speed manual if you so desire Id estimate that about 0.25 per cent of the time that has been a useful option. It has a sun-roof and automatic air conditioning. Servicing has been reasonable, and the local Honda dealer actually volunteers a courtesy car. The only criticism is its fuel consumption, which has now slid to just over 33 miles per gallon (8.6 l/100km) , compared with Hondas claim of 47.9 mpg (5.9 l/100km), although that is the claimed figure for the manual version. (The 330 d for diesel is doing about 36 mpg-7.9).
Modus More Expensive
The Renault Modus will have to be mighty good to compete with this, and the base model is more expensive - £9,250 Modus versus £9,013 Jazz. The Modus scores on looks - it appears to be almost lovably cute, with a nice smile at the front and neat curves to the body. The interior is attractive with a colourful blend of good quality materials. The speedo is mounted centrally on top of the dash board, with a huge digital readout; great for when you spy the speed camera and need a quick fix on your speed. The high roof and wheels at the corners means plenty of space above and around you.
And now we come to the practical stuff which will, for those without egos, enable them to make up their minds. The rear seats in the Modus are organised in a so-called Triptic format, which allows the centre seat to be folded away, and means the remaining two can be moved backwards and forwards depending on the job in hand. Four people and no luggage means the rear seats can be moved back for maximum legroom, with a similar option for the front seat passenger.
Jazz Clear Winner
The rear seats can be folded back, but only up against the front seats. This seriously cuts back on the amount of load space available. The Jazz is a clear winner here. The seats fold 1/3-2/3 too. There are some really creative ideas for stowing items like sun glasses. How often have you put your mobile phone or sun glasses on the passenger seat when driving alone, only to find them spurting forward into the foot well when you brake suddenly? The Modus has a folding cushion on the passenger seat where you can stow oddments. Theres also a boot chute a £250 (360 euros) extra reminiscent of the original Mini - which is a hinge at bottom of the tailgate which allows stuff to be stowed in the boot in confined spaces. Theres a Velofix, a bike rack attachment which can be slotted into the rear bumper and can hold two adult bikes.
All The Techie Acronyms
Standard equipment includes ABS and all the other techie acronyms, remote central locking, see me home headlights, four airbags, and variable assisted power steering. Move up one notch to the Expression version and you get 6 airbags, electric one-touch front windows among other things, Dynamique includes a leather steering wheel, special upholstery, and alloy wheels, while Privilege has automatic windscreen wipers with rain sensors, automatic headlights, cornering headlights, and folding door mirrors.
There are 5 engines available 3 petrol and 2 diesels. Petrols are a 1.2 litre 75 bhp, a 1.4 98 bhp, and a 1.6 113 bhp. Diesel power comes from a 1.5 litre with 65 bhp, or a 1.5 with 80 bhp.
Driving the car in the country lanes around Manchester Airport, the 80 bhp diesel seemed the best engine, and the car drove impeccably as youd expect
The Modus is the first Renault to share a platform with Nissan of Japan, with which it has an alliance, and is built on the same underpinnings as the little Nissan Micra, and the upcoming new Renault Clio. As well as the Jazz, competition will also come from the Fiat Idea, Ford Fusion, and Opel Meriva.
Neil Winton October 20, 2004
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