What is the Renault Clio?
With the arrival of the all-new fifth-generation model, 2019 is going to be a key year in the history of the Renault Clio.
Set to arrive in Britain in autumn 2019, the Mk5 Clio will face stiff competition in the forms of the evergreen Ford Fiesta, the plush Volkswagen Polo as well as brand new generations of the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa.
As Renault is yet to confirm technical specifications for the Mk5 Clio, details of the outgoing Mk4 version are shown below.
- Top speed: 104-112mph
- 0-62mph: 11.4-14.0 seconds
- Fuel economy: 50-88mpg
- Emissions: 82-127g/km of CO2
- Boot space: 300-1,146 litres
Three-door hatchbacks of all sizes fell out of favour with car buyrs years ago, with only a few remaining on sale, hence why like its Mk4 predecessor, the fifth-generation Renault Clio Hatchback will only be sold on five-door form.
Not that it hampered its popularity - for each full year the fourth-generation Clio was sold, it finished top of the European supermini sales charts.
What's not yet clear is whether there will be an estate-bodied Renault Clio Sport Tourer in Mk5 form. First introduced with the third-generation Clio, Britain was denied the compact load lugger the last time around.
Renault is yet to confirm the exact make-up of engines for the latest Clio, but expectations are that it will arrive towards the end of 2019 with a suite of petrol SCe (non-turbo), TCe (turbocharged) and diesel dCi engines.
What's also confirmed is that the Mk5 Clio will be the first model in the French firm's range with its upgraded E-Tech hybrid powertrain - expect this in 2020.
Whether we'll see a fully electric Clio isn't yet clear, but we wouldn't bet on it. Since 2012 Renault has gained enormous traffic selling the zero-emission Zoe as a standalone range - replacing it with an all-new Mk5 Clio-based model is a more likely scenario.
Aside from the first-generation cars when the quickest models were badged either Clio 16V or Clio Williams, following the French marque's Formula 1 success with Frank Williams' eponymous team, its motorsport wing - Renaultsport - has been tasked with fettling the fastest models.
Most recent has been the Clio Renaultsport 200, a model that was quick, but not regarded with the same degree of reverence as the earlier 172, 182 and 197 versions, primarily due to its standard-fit twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
Transmission apart, all are well-regarded for their balanced handling and zesty acceleration, with many enjoying motorsport success on race tracks and rallying stages.
Most outlandish was the Clio Renaultsport V6 255 fitted with a six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine located where the rear seats would ordinarily be. This mad two-seater was easily identifed thanks to its bulging bodywork with gaping intakes along the doors and rear wings gulping air to feed the powerplant.
Over the years there have been a number of Clio models that have been built by Renaultsport – the firm’s motorsport wing – and have been campaigned worldwide to great success in both circuit racing and rallying. That success has translated into the Cup and Trophy road-going editions - firmer, lighter versions of the cars they're based upon.
What isn't yet clear is whether there'll be a Mk5 Clio Renaultsport - or RS now that it's been contracted in length - but given the sales successes of its predecessors, it's likely one will emerge during 2020. What Renault has commited to so far is an RS Line trim level for the latest Clio, with sportier touches normally associated with its fastest models.
We've yet to see the Mk5 Clio in the metal, but judging from the photographs it looks like a measured evolution of its predecessor. That doesn't really advance the supermini sector much, but given the sales success of the Mk4, it's easier to understand Renault's cautious approach.
Inside, a much greater step forward appears to have been taken. Again, we'll reserve judgement until we've prodded and poked the Clio at close quarters, but we're promised a significant leap in terms of both material quality and on-board tech, the latter evidenced by the 9.3-inch vertical multimedia screen.
It's all part of a grown-up, larger car ethos that Renault's aiming for - the Clio's set to be the first small hatchback with all-round LED lighting as standard.
Is the Renault Clio good to drive?
As we're yet to drive the fifth-generation Clio we'll reserve judgement until we've spent a sufficient amount of time behind the wheel.
Unless Renault's decided upon a complete change of emphasis, we expect the latest Clio will build upon the strengths of its forebears and carefully blend comfort with balanced handling, allowing the latter aspect to be exploited on the quicker models.
Order books for the Mk5 Clio are likely to open in spring 2019, at which point pricing will be confirmed, almost certainly with a small increase over the current starting point of £13,615 for the cheapest fourth-generation model.
If Renault is sensible, it will launch the newcomer with an attractive array of finance deals, although traditional discounts are unlikely to be offered by dealers at least until the Clio's been on sale for several months.
Renault Clio Model History
Available to order from the end of 2012, deliveries of Mk4 Clios began in February the following year.
This time around the sole bodystyle offered was the five-door Renault Clio Hatchback, given dwindling sales of three-door cars, and the British market's lack of enthusiasm for small estates.
In order the bridge the styling gap and appease buyers of hot hatches like the Clio Renaultsport 200 who believe such pocket rockets should be three doors-only, the Clio's rear door handles were hidden in the window frames.
A mild facelift towards the end of 2016 kept things visually fresh ready to take on the latest iterations of Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.
Naturally aspirated and turbocharged petrol engines, badged SCe and TCe, respectively, were sold alongside dCi diesels, with a choice of manual and EDC twin-clutch automatic transmissions.
- Watch our Mk4 Renault Clio Hatchback video review
Third-generation Renault Clio (2005-13)
Five-door versions of the Mk3 Renault Clio Hatchback arrived just before deliveries of the three-door began in early 2006, joined in 2008 by a practical estate version, the Renault Clio Sport Tourer.
Performance fans were treated to the uprated power of the Clio Renaultsport 197, but the majority of sales fell to more efficient petrol and dCi diesel engines.
Renault faclifted the third-generation Clio in 2009, giving it a smoother - and blander - appearance, with a single-slot grille replacing the previous nostrils.
Second-generation Renault Clio (1998-09)
Given that it was sold in one form or another for 11 years, the Mk2 Renault Clio Hatchback had the longest sales run of any of the five generations.
Launched as a three- and a five-door in 1998, with a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, there was quite a wait before the pumped-up Clio Renaultsport 172 arrived.
A facelift in 2001 gave the previous chubby-cheeked styling a sharper edge, particularly at the front end, modifications which were further amplified in 2003 with some detail changes, including swapping the dark grey headlamp infills with ones of a matte silver finish.
Perhaps more unusually, even though Renault introduced the Mk3 Clio at the end of 2005, the Mk2 continued to be sold, now as the standalone Clio Campus range. It even received a further facelift in 2006 with a simpler grille and a reprofiled tail with the number plate moving to the bumper.
What's it like to live with a Mk2 Renault Clio? Find out with our owners' reviews and look for examples for sale near you.
First-generation Renault Clio (1991-98)
Arriving in Britain in 1991 with a series of 'Papa and Nicole' television adverts, the three- and five-door Renault Clio Hatchback range was designed to replace the outgoing Renault 5, although cheaper versions of that model continued to be sold for several years after.
Petrol engines were the mainstay of the range - if you wanted a diesel you had to make do with a lumber non-turbo 1.9-litre unit.
Those who lusted after a replacement for the rapid Renault 5 GT Turbo only had to wait until 1992 before the Clio 16V made its debut, although that model was outshone by three editions of the Clio Williams from 1993, named after the F1 team - not that the Grand Prix racers had any involvement in tweaking the Clio.
A mild facelift was introduced in 1994 - Renault fans take note that this was the first model to wear the 'smooth' rhombus that's still used today - with a slightly more obvious makeover appearing in 1996 featuring larger headlamps and a revised bonnet.
Is a Mk1 Renault Clio a sensible older used buy? Find out with our owners' reviews and search for the scarce examples for sale.