Still one of the smartest buys in its class
- Stylish and modern to look at
- Plenty of kit and tech for the money
- A comfortable ride and fine handling
- A wide span of model variations
- Renaultsport models aren’t sharp enough
- No three-door version available
- Numb steering robs it of fun factor
- Start optioning it up, and things get expensive
More than a million examples of the Renault Clio have been sold in the UK since the first model debuted in a flurry of Nicole and Papa advertising in 1991. It has a fine legacy that this French carmaker hopes its 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 predecessors. 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 stylish fourth-generation Renault Clio offered solely in five-door form, it sits lower and is wider. This lowers its centre of gravity and has a positive benefit on the 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 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
Renault 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 gets from 0-62mph 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.
The Parkers Verdict
We like the Renault Clio. It’s well priced, has a generous equipment tally, and looks smart, despite having been around for a few years now. It rides well and is roomy, too.
It doesn’t have any particular weaknesses, either, although if we were being hyper-picky, then we’d counter that it’s not as sharp to steer as the Ford Fiesta. But, then, what is?
It’s a good, solid, four-star car, and still near the top of its class, despite its advancing years.