Roomy, comfortable and entertaining supermini should be on your shopping list
- Economical engines
- Spacious interior
- Good fun to drive
- Trophy model handling
- No manual gearbox for Renaultsport
- Still some reliability concerns
- Performance a tad lethargic
Over a million examples of the Renault Clio have been sold in the UK since the first one debuted in 1991, a legacy its French manufacturer hopes this simplified fourth-generation model will capitalise on.
Like virtually every contemporary car, this Clio’s more spacious, delivers greater efficiency and is safer than its predecessor, but unlike its forebears it comes in a single bodystyle: a five-door hatchback, albeit one with hidden rear door handles for a svelte appearance.
Sales of three-door superminis have been declining for a while, and although continental Europeans can buy the estate-bodied Sport Tourer, this is not a format Renault intends to offer in the UK.
Renault pitches the Clio against tough opposition in a competitive class that includes the Citroen C3, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20, Mazda 2, Peugeot 208, SEAT Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo, among others.
Grown-up Clio offers personalisation
Not only is the slinky fourth-generation Renault Clio offered solely in five-door form, it sits lower and is wider, lowering the centre of gravity and improving handling as a result. It feels more substantial and mature than its predecessors.
Additional to the range of colours available, buyers can personalise their car with a selection of options including door mirror caps, grille bars, rear panel skirts, lower door protectors and wheel finishes, as well as a choice of roof graphics.
To create a more bespoke interior, there is a menu of options regarding the dashboard, door panels, steering wheel, grab handles, gear lever surround, air vent bezels, upholstery materials and optional floor mats.
On-board connectivity tech
Of greater benefit is that many Clios will feature Renault’s R-Link multimedia system, with the availability of using it as an online portal. This features a 7.0-inch touchscreen incorporating sat-nav with traffic updates.
The system also links to Renault R-Link Store, the automobile world’s first app shop, where users can view or download a range of services from their car or computer.
R-Link users can also check their messages, manage their diary, locate the nearest service station or place to park, or send a tweet.
Clios at the lower-end of the range are available with R&Go, using an app on the driver’s smartphone to connect to the car’s system.
Efficient engine range
Barring the least powerful petrol engine, all of the Clio’s powerplants are turbocharged for both performance and efficiency.
Of the petrol-powered line-up, the TCe 90 Eco is the most cost-effective to run, with a claimed average of 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 94g/km. Those fuel-miserly mods dent performance, though – the 0-62mph time is a leisurely 13.1 seconds.
The diesel-powered dCi 90 Eco not only performs better – 0-62mph takes 12.0 seconds – it sips fuel at an even slower rate, with a claimed 88.3mpg and CO2 emissions quoted at 82g/km.
Renault doesn’t offer an electrically-powered Clio despite its expertise in EVs; instead you have to opt for the electric-only Zoe for zero-emission driving.
High-performance Clio Renaultsport
The French marque has a long and illustrious history in producing compact hot hatchbacks and while the fastest Clios have between 200hp and 220hp on tap depending upon which version you go for, they’re hamstrung for enthusiasts by an obstructive EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox – there’s no manual alternative.
Still, they’re quick: the Clio Renaultsport 220 Trophy can reach 146mph and crack the 0-62mph benchmark in 6.6 seconds. The handling will put a smile on your face, too, but as a package it falls short of the Ford Fiesta ST and Peugeot 208 GTi.
Renault Clio hatchback model history
- November 2012 – Order books open for the five-door-only, fourth-generation Clio, with deliveries commencing in February 2013. Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav trims, with a restricted range of 1.2 16V 75 and Energy TCe 90 petrol engines and a sole Energy dCi 90 diesel.
- April 2013 – Flagship Renaultsport 200 Turbo and 200 Turbo Lux launched, both powered by a 1.6-litre turbo engine producing 200hp. Power is directed to the front wheels via a six-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a muscular bodykit and three different driving modes. Lux adds an Arkamys audio system, keyless entry and start and Renaultsport front seats.
- June 2013 – Sporty GT-Line Energy TCe 120 available to order, with first deliveries in September. Changes compared with the standard Clio include a 40% stiffer suspension dampers, 17-inch alloy wheels and a purposeful bodykit. The automatic EDC twin-clutch gearbox is your only choice.
- February 2015 – Minor modifications across the range including detail changes to the finishes for the climate control system, airvents and gearknobs. Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav models are optionally available with a GT-Line look pack including anthracite alloy wheels and exterior detailing, LED day-running lights and a chrome exhaust pipe.
- June 2015 – Performance flagship Renaultsport 220 Trophy available to order, with power uprated to 220hp, along with revisions to the EDC automatic gearbox’s shift patterns, as well as tweaks to the suspension and steering set-ups.
- November 2015 – Expression+ trim level discontinued and replaced with Play, while all Clios now come with DAB radio. Dynamique Nav models now feature a new steering wheel and different grey cloth upholstery.
- December 2015 – Marking a quarter-century of Clio sales is the limited edition Iconic 25 Nav, based on the standard Dynamique S Nav trim, with a choice of Energy TCe 90 and Energy dCi 90 engines. Additional features include 17-inch Desire alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, and white and black door mirror caps that can be replicated on the roof. Inside there are heated, part-leather front seats.
- September 2016 – Facelifted range introduced, with revised front-end styling including a new grille and LED headlights on high specification models, in addition to new-to-Clio features such as self-parking. Upgraded interior materials as well as enhanced specifications. Range structure of the facelifted range comprises of Expression, Play, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, Renaultsport 200 Nav and Renaultsport 220 Trophy Nav. Engine range expanded with the Energy TCe 120 paired with a manual gearbox and a more powerful Energy dCi 110 diesel.
- January 2017 – Luxurious Signature Nav specification introduced featuring partial leather upholstery, a reversing camera, all-round parking sensors, automatic self-parking function and an upgraded multimedia system. Engine permutations include the Energy TCe 90 and Energy TCe 120 petrols, as well as the diesel-powered Energy dCi 90 and Energy dCi 110.
Read the full Renault Clio hatchback review to see if this popular supermini’s still bristling with its legendary va va voom.
What owners say about this car
I wasn't sure to buy a Renault but this has proved amazing value. the 0.9 engine is hushed, punchy enough... Read owner review
Comfy and spacious in the front with plenty of boot space. My dogs approve!... Read owner review
The car is full of practically, you have a split rear seats 40/50, it has got quite a big boot,... Read owner review