PARIS - Renault has started production of a three-box version of the Clio supermini at its plant in Bursa, Turkey.
The car, called the Symbol, is due to replace the best-selling Renault 9. Renault has invested $108 million in the program - $27 million for engineering and $81 million for manufacturing equipment.
The Symbol is longer than the Clio hatchback (160 inches instead of 150.8 inches) and has a larger trunk. It is offered with two gasoline engines, a 1.4-liter producing 75 hp and, beginning next year, a 1.4-liter, 16-valve powertrain producing 95 hp.
Symbol production should reach 28,000 units next year. Bursa made 26,500 Renault 9s last year. Total production at Bursa should reach 140,000 units in 2000. The plant also builds the R12 wagon, the R19 and the Megane three-box and wagon.
Through August of this year, Renault had sold 40,100 units in Turkey. Of those, 10,800 were R9s. About 20 percent of Symbol production is to be exported to central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
The Clio three-box could be considered a first step toward the $6,000 car that Renault is planning for emerging markets.