While European buyers are being introduced to the third generation Renault Clio, the Brazilian unit has updated the second generation model for the 2006 model year.

The model was launched in Brazil in 1999 and given a face-lift in 2003 (the same changes as made to the European model in 2001). Now there are unique local changes for the 2006 model.

Hatchback and sedan versions have new bumpers, front grille and tailgate/boot lid. Inside, the latest Brazilian Clio has a new dashboard and steering wheel.

But the most significant change is under the bonnet where the one-litre 16-valve, petrol-only engine has ben replaced by a flex-fuel unit that runs on petrol, alcohol or a blend of the two. The flex-fuel system was developed by Renault and is produced by Siemens. Power output varies from 76hp on petrol to 77hp when running on alcohol.

A 1.6-litre, 16-valve flex-fuel engine (introduced in 2005 ) continues on offer.

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Renault Brazil expects to sell about 3,000 units per month of the updated range – about 1,650 hatchbacks and 1,350 sedans. That’s about 200 units a month more than the outgoing model.

It reckons the new 1.0-litre flex-fuel version will account for about 52% of sales or 18,700 units, in 2006.

As for the third generation model, there are no plans to introduce it in Brazil.

“We will not produce the Clio III in Brazil. The production costs of this car are too high for the Brazilian market,” said Christian Pouillaude, commercial vice-president of Renault do Brasil.

In 2007 Renault will start to build the Logan in Brazil. As well as the sedan version already on sale elsewhere, there are plans to make hatchback and minivan derivatives in South America.

The Clio hatchback and sedan are made in Renault’s Brazilian São José dos Pinhais car plant, in Paraná state, which also produces the Scénic minivan (the previous-generation). It recently started building prototypes of the Mégane II which will be launched next March.

Rogério Louro