This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Renault Clio Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Six engine choices (three petrol and three diesel) were originally available – a 75bhp 1.2-litre, a 98bhp 1.4-litre and a 1.6-litre with 111bhp completing the petrol line-up. The 1.6-litre comes with either a four-speed auto option or an automated manual, while the 1.4-litre’s feisty behaviour belies its modest capacity. The 1.2-litre sounds like it has to work harder, but still pulls strongly when required.

Renault replaced the 1.4 and 1.6 engines in 2007 with a new, greener turbocharged 1.2-litre engine offering 100bhp. Badged TCe the smaller unit matches both for performance, while offering better fuel economy and lower emissions, however it has to be worked quite hard and lacks refinement at motorway speeds. In 2006 a 2.0-litre engine was also launched and that offered 138bhp with a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds for ultimate Renault Clio performance.

On the diesel front, the same 1.5 dCi common rail diesel is available in a choice of three power outputs – 68bhp, 86bhp and 106bhp. This engine is superbly refined and even the entry level version offers decent in-gear punch while the 106bhp version is a revelation on the motorway with impressive pace. The higher-output diesel comes with a six-speed manual transmission and feels quite sporty while the 86bhp diesel with its five-speed transmission is more relaxed.

The 68bhp and 106bhp diesels were discontinued in 2008.

Although the Clio offers safe and predictable handling, with good levels of grip, excellent ride comfort and limited body roll, it’s not without its shortcomings. The steering feels light and artificial and is far too eager to self-centre. At high speeds it doesn’t inspire confidence while sweeping bends require constant correction. The trade-off however is that it makes for easy parking and manoeuvring in town – but alternative hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 offer a more satisfying drive.

Facelifted models are an improvement and the steering has more feel, inspiring more confidence in bends. However, it’s still just as easy to drive when nipping through traffic.