The Renault Clio has been one of the UK’s favourite superminis for decades, but does it still have what it takes to topple the best in this class? Let’s take a look.
- Fantastic interior
- Stylish design
- Hybrid model available
- Firm ride on high-spec models
- Some rivals have more rear seat space
- Competitors are more fun to drive
Time flies, and it’s been 3 decades since the Renault Clio first arrived as a stylish, frugal and affordable take on the supermini formula. Ever since, it’s been battling it out with the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo for the top spot in this class, which continues to be as popular as ever.
And while these 3 rivals may outsell the Clio, there are plenty of reasons to consider this Renault, not least this latest-generation model which makes a number of significant advances that should make this supermini more compelling than ever. But does it succeed? Let’s find out.
The latest Clio arrived in 2019, and while it looks similar to its predecessor, it’s actually rather different underneath the surface.
For starters, it sits on a new platform known as CMF-B. This allows this new model to be noticeably more spacious than the car it replaces, while also incorporating electrified powertrains for the first time with an E-Tech hybrid model arriving in 2020.
But arguably the biggest step forward is the interior, which gains a much cleaner layout and a noticeable uplift in quality.
When it comes to an all-round package behind the wheel, the Clio ticks all the right boxes. It’s small, nimble and has light steering that makes manoeuvres exceptionally easy in and around town. It doesn’t offer the same fun driving experience as a Ford Fiesta, but it’s still pleasant to drive, while the choice of powertrains means there’s something to suit plenty of buyers.
It’s also largely comfortable and refined – particularly for such a compact model – though the larger wheels on the R.S. Line model equate to a firmer suspension setup. Going for a model with smaller alloy wheels could be a better option.
Looks and image
Renault says the Clio’s looks is what makes the model so popular, so you can see why the firm didn’t want to change the design dramatically. Though the sleek and compact shape remains the same, Renault has introduced cool new lighting at the front and rear, while the bumpers present a more modern look. R.S.Line models also bring extra sporty flair to the package.
But it’s on the inside where the biggest changes have been made. The cheap-feeling layout of the previous Clio has gone, replaced by a range of materials that feel and look more upmarket than ever. High-spec models benefit from a large touchscreen system, while digital dials are also available if you want as much technology in the cabin as possible.
Despite its dinky shape, the Clio has an almost tardis-like feel to it, with a particularly roomy cabin. It’s the boot that’s the main highlight – measuring up to 391 litres, it’s the biggest of any car in this class, while folding the rear seats increases this to 1,069 litres. It’s worth noting that the boots of diesel and hybrid models are slightly smaller than standard petrol Clios.
Space up front is also generous, with plenty of adjustment making it easy for even taller adults to get comfortable. But the rear seats aren’t especially roomy, with neither headroom or legroom being too impressive. The Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo are better in this respect.
Engines and running costs
With petrol, diesel and hybrid power on offer with the Clio, there is something to suit most.
The range starts with a 74bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox. It’s fine around town, but with minimal power on offer, it’s not the best if you regularly drive on open roads or motorways.
Next up is a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol with 99bhp, which you can choose with a 5-speed manual or CVT automatic gearbox, followed by a turbocharged 1.3-litre that’s mated with a 7-speed automatic gearbox. With 128bhp on offer, it’s the quickest of all the Clio models – accelerating to 60mph in 8.8 seconds.
While diesel isn’t set to be especially popular here, it’s a good option for drivers doing plenty of miles each year. Here it’s a 84bhp 1.5-litre unit, which comes with a 6-speed manual.
Last but not least is our pick of the range – the E-Tech Hybrid. It combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with twin electric motors and a small battery, and while complex, it’s smooth, nippy and efficient.
In terms of running costs, the diesel is cheapest to run on paper – Renault claims it’ll return 67.2mpg. But around town, it’s the E-Tech hybrid model that will deliver the best efficiency, with a fuel economy figure of 64.2mpg given, alongside CO2 emissions of 99g/km. All the petrol options should still prove to be affordable to run, though.
- 1.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine (74bhp)
- 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine (99bhp)
- 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine (128bhp)
- 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel (84bhp)
- 1.6-litre petrol with electric motor (138bhp)
- Vauxhall Corsa – from £16,440
- Seat Ibiza – from £16,445
- Ford Fiesta – from £16,640
- Volkswagen Polo – from £17,125
- Peugeot 208 – from £17,575
- Hyundai i20 – from £18,595
A range of trim levels are offered on the Clio, with all coming with a generous amount of kit. Highlights and pricing are as follows.
Play – from £15,895
- 16-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights
- Air conditioning
- DAB radio
- Cruise control
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Lane keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Electric folding mirrors
- Automatic lights
Iconic – from £16,895 (in addition to Play)
- Diamond-cut 16-inch alloy wheels
- LED fog lights
- Tinted windows
- Leather steering wheel
- 7-inch touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Rear parking sensors
- Keyless entry and start
S Edition – from £18,595 (in addition to Iconic)
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Climate control
- Electric rear windows
- 9.3-inch touchscreen
- 7-inch digital dial display
- Reversing camera
- Front parking sensors
- Automatic wipers
R.S.Line – from £19,095 (in addition to S Edition)
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- R.S.Line bodykit
- Perforated leather sports steering wheel
- Sports seats
E-Tech Launch Edition – from £22,495 (in addition to S Edition – Hybrid only)
- Blue exterior colour pack
- Black door mirrors
- Blue interior pack
- Electronic parking brake
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