Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6
  • Seriously good-looking interior
  • High-quality dashboard
  • Impressive infotainment on higher models

What’s most impressive about the new Renault Clio’s interior is how much better it is than its predecessor.

The dashboard design isn’t as clean as it used to be - especially the climate control system – but the overall layout makes for a smarter and more sophisticated cabin. Quality has gone up too, with better use of materials and textured switchgear, although the door panels may start rattling sooner than some rivals.

The subtle swoop and scalloping of the dashboard has the twin effects of increasing legroom for the front passenger and angling controls towards the driver for a more focused feel.

The layout is much improved – for example, the cruise control buttons are all on the steering wheel for the first time in Renault’s living memory, rather than having them dotted about the cabin.

The temptation to move to touchscreen controls for the heating and ventilation in a Citroen and Peugeot style has also, thankfully, been resisted, and a row of physical climate control knobs sit below the infotainment touchscreen.

That screen is a large 9.3 inches and oriented vertically, much like the one in Renault’s own Megane. It’s crisp, clear and very easy to use, though the operating system isn’t quite as simple to get to grips with as a Volkswagen Polo’s. It's currently only available on higher-spec S Edition and RS Line models, however - opting for a mid-spec Iconic will see you downgraded to a smaller screen, which is perfectly fine for most, if a little less user-friendly.

Entry-level Play cars get an old-fashioned stereo instead, but even this gets a DAB radio. Play and Iconic models also come with conventional dials rather than a digital screen, but despite them looking a little on the cheap side, they’re at least large and clear to read.

The 7.0-inch digital display for the driver has three customisable areas when it comes to the type of information you want it to show, with the choice of a power and torque gauge or instant fuel read-out on the top left corner, media information or sat-nav instructions on the top right and driving assistance information at the bottom.

Those sat up front should appreciate a slightly better view out compared to its rivals, thanks to the positioning of the front windscreen pillars. They’re just as thick as most modern cars on sale, but they’re positioned further forward ahead of you and don’t feel like they immediately obstruct your view when you try and navigate your way out of a junction. The large front quarter-light window is actually useful as well, unlike on a previous-generation Ford Fiesta or Peugeot 208, where they were so small you could only see out the ones on the opposite side of the cabin.

The fitment of thinner headrests also helps with all-round visibility and if you want a brighter interior, go for the S Edition and its lighter grey dash and door trims.

Comfort

  • Soaks up bumps well even on large wheels
  • Plenty of support in seats
  • A very refined, grown-up feeling car

The Renault Clio is a comfortable car – the suspension essentially splits the difference between sportier alternatives such as the Ford Fiesta and grown-up alternatives like the Volkswagen Polo. It’s quite a happy middle ground – the suspension soaks up bumps without feeling totally disconnected from the road, and it’s only larger bumps and potholes around town that unsettle the car.

There is a fair degree of road noise filtering into the cabin outside of town environments, but it’s not too tiring. The engines settle down to a relaxed cruise quickly, and there’s only a bit of wind whistle around the door mirrors to disrupt the calm, while the cabin is well isolated from bumps being sent into the cabin.

The seats are firm and comfortable with plenty of adjustment for most drivers, and the sculptured bolsters also provide plenty of support in the corners. RS-Line models come with even more figure-hugging seats, but they’re less restrictive than the examples you’d find on something like a MINI Hatch or Ford Fiesta ST-Line.

Refinement levels suffer depending on spec

There’s another caveat with RS-Line models, though – they come on larger, 17-inch alloy wheels that result in a rather firm ride that’s particularly noticeable at low speeds. There’s a considerable degree of tyre roar too, once above 30mph. Overall, it’s someway short of being uncomfortable, but if you prefer a supple, cushioned ride and quieter cabin, we’d definitely suggest sticking with the more forgiving set-up on Play and Iconic models.

While the TCe 100 is the more refined choice overall, the Fiesta still edges ahead of it for long distance comfort. There’s quite a few vibrations coming through into the cabin when cruising around 50-55mph, especially through the steering wheel. Change down to fourth gear to raise the engine speed and it feels far more harmonious and relaxed overall – the longer gearing here doesn’t quite work in these situations.

The 1.3-litre TCe 130 engine transmits fewer vibrations into the cabin, but the turbo whistle that filters through into the driver’s footwell under acceleration will be annoying after a while if you haven’t already turned up the radio to drown it out.