Renault Clio Expression Eco2 3-door dCi 86 A/C
Refreshed Clio is easy on the eye
- Surprisingly sprightly for an eco-model
- Refreshed styling is easy on the eye
- Spacious and airy feel in the cabin
- Very impressive economy
- Engine is noisy when cold
- Tinny doors require a slam
- Gearchange feels a little reluctant at times
- Some harsh interior plastics
Renault is one of the latest small car manufacturers to join the trend of offering a vehicle with sub 100g/km CO2 emissions. The Clio Eco2 models are Renault's most efficient to date.
The club of vehicles offering CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km is a small but constantly expanding one, and has been boosted by the arrival of Renault's Clio Eco2 model. At 98g/km it qualifies for free road tax and makes a tempting choice for drivers on a tight budget.
Based on the recently refreshed Clio range, which, along with the rest of Renault's lineup, has been simplified to offer a more concise range of vehicles, the Eco2 variant is available on the base trim level and without the premium usually associated with economy focussed models.
The variant is available as a three or five-door with or without air-conditioning and uses a 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel unit. Taller gear ratios have also been employed along with low viscosity engine and gearbox oil, specific engine mapping and modified bodywork.
At the core remains Renault's popular small car with an accommodating body and user friendly nature. Although built to offer value, the Clio remains a smartly styled and well-engineered small car product with a distinctive character.
Our verdict on the Renault Clio Expression Eco2 3-door dCi 86 A/C
The Clio Eco2 model achieves everything it sets out to; excellent real world fuel economy and running costs, value for money and decent small car performance in terms of practicality and driveability. The developments have had little if any negative affect on the Clio package and the model remains a positive car to drive. Practical and spacious for a compact three-door, it's an attractive proposition.
Excellent fuel consumption is the chief attribute of the Clio Eco2 range, and the model requires no special treatment in order to provide excellent returns. The low purchase price is also highly beneficial to car buyers on a budget. Consumables and servicing should offer no surprises and insurance is likely to be favourable, too.
Space and practicality
The Clio makes the most of its dimensions, which are big for the class, and this translates into decent cabin space. Front seat occupants will have no concerns while those in the rear can enjoy good space for a three-door model. The boot is also generous and storage space in the cabin is good, with cup holders and spacious glovebox present.
Controls and display
From the driver's seat the Clio has an attractive layout with all the controls logically placed. The ventilation controls are quite small but easy to use and the column-mounted audio controls are excellent. Smart touches like the 'squash-ball' air vent controls are appealing and good to use, with only the small stereo controls letting it down. The sat-nav equipped models get a large, clear and ideally positioned screen atop the centre console.
Ride quality is good for a small car and the interior offers a decent level of basic comfort with supportive seats. Air-con must be specified in the Expression version, but electric front windows are a welcome addition. The diesel engine can be noisy when cold, however, which penetrates the cabin - spoiling otherwise excellent noise isolation.
Remote central locking with deadlocking is standard equipment, but no alarm is present on the entry level models. The glovebox and parcel shelf covered boot offer concealed storage.
The Clio offers a high standard of safety, with high strength steel used to deliver a stronger safety cell. ABS is standard, with a minimum of four airbags on all versions. Active head restraints have also been included, offering extra protection from whiplash injuries.
Despite the focus on economy, the Clio Eco2's 1.5-litre diesel engine uses a decent torque output to hustle the model along at a reasonable pace. Keeping up with traffic is no problem as a result and a lively, responsive and agile chassis can be fun when the moment calls for it. Steering is lightweight, which helps in town, and the longer gearing has little negative effect on tractability. Visibility is also excellent.
Family car appeal
The three-door layout is not best suited to family life, but the three-door Clio would make a cost effective second family car. The five-door Eco2 model available in Expression trim is better suited to family life, with easier access to the rear bench. Three small or two larger children will be comfortable in the back.
First car appeal
The compact dimensions, frugality and competitive pricing of the Clio Expression Eco2 model make it an ideal purchase for the young driver or first time car buyer. Easy to live with and simple to drive and park, it's perfectly suited to the novice.
Quality and image
The Clio is generally a well built vehicle, with impressive shut lines on the exterior and a robust, hard-wearing feel to the interior. The doors are a little tinny when shut hard but, elsewhere, commonly used controls are sturdy. The French manufacturer remains a volume brand and is slightly lacking in kerb appeal, but that's a fair trade for the value on offer.
Naturally, accessing the rear of the three-door model is not as simple as in a five-door car and the doors are not the longest, but a high roofline means there's a decent sized portal regardless. Access to the front is fine and the boot door is of a reasonable proportion, although there is a pronounced lip at the rear to be negotiated.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
All models are fitted with a radio/CD player including an RCA audio connector. It provides good sound quality. The stereo unit itself is positioned low in the dashboard and the buttons are small, although this is offset by the excellent controls duplicated on a column stalk. Integrated sat-nav is optional and proves a quick and clear system where present.
Colours and trim
First impressions are good, with a neatly styled interior. Some dashboard plastics are a little hard to touch but not excessively so, especially considering the Clio's price bracket. Solid colours suit the model and keep costs low. Cloth is dark but the large glasshouse means this doesn't make the interior too gloomy. Alloy wheels are available as an option.
A large glass area is a huge factor in making the Clio easy to park. The steep rear window makes it simple to judge where the rear of the car is. Light steering and well-placed door mirrors also contribute, though it's difficult to note the extremities of the steeply sloping bonnet.
Full-size steel spare fitted beneath boot floor.
Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (75bhp and 100bhp); 1.6-litre (111bhp and 128bhp); 2.0-litre (200bhp). Diesel options - 1.5-litre (86bhp and 106bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, six-speed manual gearbox, four-speed automatic gearbox. Trim levels: Bizu, Expression, Dynamique TomTom, GT Line, Gordini, Renaultsport.
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