Today, Lucire has come full circle. One of the earliest stories on the web for our group was on the Renault Clioâs Nicole and Papa campaign, created in the early 1990s by Publicis. The Clio, which was the first Renault to hit the best sellersâ lists consistently in the UK, was sold with a cheeky campaign featuring two charactersâNicole, a young French lass, and Papa, obviously, her father. Those were the only two words uttered in the majority of the commercials, with the exceptions of âMamanâ and âBobâ, the final referring to comedian Bob Mortimer.
The last Nicole and Papa TVC, released when the Clio II was launched in 1998, saw Nicole finally walk down the aisle, about to marry Vic Reeves (a.k.a. Jim Moir) when she finally decides, at the last minute, to run off with Bob Mortimer instead.
Itâs hard to believe that Nicole and Papa entered the British consciousness 20 years ago, in a series which also marketed French flair and the belief that the French have a better lifestyle than the British.
The Clio is still with us, but itâs much larger than before. Now on its fourth incarnation, the latest Clio is more expressive and sporty in looks, thanks to the work of Laurens van den Acker. Itâs on the previous modelâs platform, albeit heavily revised, and thatâs a good thing. In the stories we did on the Clioâboth publisher Jack Yan and travel editor Stanley Moss took Clio 3s around France and New Zealandâwe found it one of the most capable superminis, a small car with a big-car feel. In fact, we found it better for cruising New Zealandâs South Island than the Holden Commodore, which we tried around the same time.
Clio IV features an 899 cmÂ³, three-cylinder engine, but itâs turbocharged, developing more than 90 PSâthose are the sorts of eco-friendly, yet powerful, specs that you can expect from the French these days. Renault claims a combined 88Â·3 mpg from the Energy dCi 90 engine. Archrival Peugeot similarly has three-cylinder units for its 208, the Clioâs closest rival at home, though the entry-level engine here is actually a 1Â·1 four which develops 75 PS. An RS model appears in 2013, getting 200 PS from a turbocharged 1Â·6, continuing the tradition of pocket rockets from ClioâLucire photographer Doug Rimington once owned a Clio RS 182, which proved to be an able and taut sports hatch.
The great thing is that Clio IV has the looks to match its âva-va-voomâ nature. The new modelâs styling conveys everything that Nicole and Papa tried to do: that when you get a Clio, youâre getting a dose of French flair. But wait, thereâs more: âva va voomâ includes a sense of passion, something which van den Ackerâs styling attempts to do. This isnât a dull little hatch in the domestic appliance mould: Clio IV is emotive, and even sexy. Theyâre not words you tend to hear in the B-segment.
To show just what Renault means, the company has come up with two videos, one for unsuspecting male test drivers who come to a corner and are surprised at what happens when the âva va voomâ button is pressed, and the other for female test drivers.
And to bring things full circle, Nicole and Papa make an appearance, uttering the lines that made them famous. It does seem that the years have not been kind to Nicole and Bob, because thereâs no sign of Mortimer, as Nicole has found herself a new man.
But isnât that just what we expected?
Find out more from or book a test drive at the Renault website. Renault’s Twitter account can be found here, and its Facebook here.
We recently mentioned that the Milano exhibition to accompany The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld had new works, so that those attending in the Italian fashion capital would not feel they were getting a second-hand collection that had already done the rounds in Tokyo, New York, London, Paris and Berlin.
To whet our appetites of the shoot Karl Lagerfeld did with Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger, Carla Bruni, Carole Bouquet and others in his studio in January 2013, Chanel has released a single image of Kruger reinterpreting the house’s little black jacket.
Some 20 international celebrities and ‘close friends of the house’ participated.
The exhibition, held at the Rotonda di via Besana (at the via Enrico Besana, 12), opens April 4, with entry free to the public from April 6 to 20. Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. At the same time, displays at Chanelâs via SantâAndrea boutique will show jackets from the springâsummer 2013 ready-to-wear collection.
Dubai is the next destination after Milano. More can be found at www.thelittleblackjacket.chanel.com.