What is it?
A shed on wheels? Not exactly. This is project X98, or the next-generation Renault Clio, heavily disguised on its final tests in Jukkasjärvi near Kiruna, north of Sweden, prior to its first public appearance at next Paris motor show, and its market launch right after.
The Clio's fourth generation keeps the same platform, albeit deeply modified, with some 110kg taken off it. At launch time, engines will be two new TCE direct injection turbos: a three cylinder, 0.9-litre with 89bhp and a four cylinder 1.2-litre with 114bhp. On the diesel front we'll get two variants of the extensively updated 1.5 dCi, with 74bhp and 89bhp.
The gearbox is the same five-speed manual as the existing Clio but with revised linkage and different ratios. The steering is new, with electric power assistance and a faster rack.
Exterior dimensions remain nearly the same, but tracks are 30mm wider and the car is 30mm lower.
What's it like?
Looking at this disguised PT1 (code for the first 150 prototypes made in the production line, in Turkey) you wouldn't say it's a car, let alone a new Clio. But we can guarantee it is, having seen the final version five days earlier, at Renault's top secret Technocenter, in France. Unsurprisingly, it looks much better than the old car, now seven years old.