In the mid nineties, I took a friend to the Motor Show press day at the NEC, ostensibly to see the new cars on offer. I remember looking at an Aston Martin & a Vauxhall Tigra, but the highlight for my friend was a chance to meet ‘Nicole’ from the Renault Clio adverts, who was in Birmingham with ‘Papa’ to promote the Clio. Back then, the Clio was the super-mini of choice for young happening things, with the range, particularly the Clio Williams, which married Renaults Formula one & Rally Sport pedigree to a small around-town car, all fun to drive.
Clio’s came & went, but none ever tasted the success of the early models, primarily because the competition in the sector got better & better. As we enter a new decade, nothing has really changed. There’s a very good Fiesta & Polo leading the charge, with the all-new Peugeot 208 & Vauxhall Corsa just launched, so the latest Clio is up against it.
From the outside, despite sharing much of it’s architecture with the Nissan Micra, the Clio is still unmistakably a Renault, with the large Renault diamond dominating in the centre of the front grille & the rear boot lid. From the side it looks very much like the Nissan Micra, which is no bad thing.
The real news though is inside, where out have gone the complicated infotainment system & finger smudging black shiny plastic, in turn replaced by either 7″ & 9.3″ touch screen & quality, soft-touch grey, chrome & black plastics. The rest of there interior is nicely finished, with colour coded, comfortable seats, making this comfortably the nicest Clio yet.
The new dashboard is very ergonomic, making it easy to reach all of the controls. The touchscreen infotainment display – we had the larger 9.3″ version in our test car- has been designed to lean towards the driver & with it’s portrait shape, a nod to Tesla perhaps, offers crystal clear graphics. It’s also easier to reach, to touch & to use than most of the competition & make’s the Fiesta’s version for example, seem dated.
The new Clio has been constructed on an all-new platform, based on the French manufacturer’s CMF-B architecture. This platform is claimed to have improved the Clio’s safety credentials, fuel efficiency & driving refinement, plus it’s enabled Renault to fit the Clio with more sophisticated technology than its predecessor & get it ready for electrification, with an E-TECH version of the Clio arriving soon.
Before the E-Tech version arrives with 0% BIK, company car drivers will face a BIK of 26% on entry model Play SCe 75 with 27% BIK on our range-topping test car, the TCe 130 in R.S. Line trim.
The Clio comes in four trims: Play, Iconic, S Edition & top-spec R.S. Line. Prices start at just over £14,000, climbing to £20,300 at the top of the range.
All Clio’s come as standard with LED headlights, auto-folding mirrors, cruise control with speed limiter, lane-keep assist & automatic emergency braking. Work your way up through the easy-to-understand trim range and larger wheels, parking sensors and an uprated stereo feature, along with those aforementioned infotainment upgrades. The Clio comes in four trims: Play, Iconic, S Edition and top-spec RS Line. Prices start at just over £14,200 and climb to just under £17,800 at the top of the range.
From launch, there are four engines to choose from; three petrols & one diesel. The range kicks-off with the SCe 751.0-litre with 71bhp, that’s only available with a five-speed gearbox. A more sophisticated, turbocharged version of this engine is offered in the TCe 100, producing 99bhp, which is offered with a five-speed manual or optional CVT transmission.
The TCe GPF is up next, a 1.3-litre 4-cylinder petrol unit offering 128bhp & this comes in combination with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The single diesel model is a Blue dCi 85, 1.5-litre with 84bhp & (220Nm) of torque.
We got to to spend a week in the R.S. Line TCe 130EDC in fetching Iron Blue. The R.S Line features 17″ R.S diamond catalyse, an R.S Line exterior pack that features bespoke R.S. Line badging, a sports front bumper with gunmetal F1 blade & low grille, an sports rear bumper, gunmetal finish far spoiler & a chrome finish oval exhaust pipe. The interior has R.S Line upholstery, perforated leather steering wheel & an aluminium pedal set.
Comfort & convenience on R.S Line, includes, climate control, rear parking sensors, handsfree key card with push-button start-stop & entry-exit opening-locking. the R.S Lone is fitted with Renault’s Easy Link SatNav, with our’s featuring the 9.3″ tablet touchscreen. There’s also a 4 x 20W amplifier, DAB, Bluetooth smartphone integration, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, plus two USB’s up front, an AUX in & 12v socket.
Safety & security is to the fore on R.S Line models, with AEBS, LKA, LDW, TSR, ESC & full LED headlights & tail lights, driver, passenger, front, side, head & curtain airbags & the Renault anti intruder device, R.A.I.D. for short.
The 130 EDC engine & auto box offer 118g/km of CO2, 49.6mpg, a top speed of 124mph & a 0-62mph time of 9 seconds, but this does feel quicker, not quite hot-hatch, but warm nonetheless.
Cabin space has improved over its predecessor. All models are five-door only but as with sister model Micra, the rear door handles are tucked into the C-pillars, giving the car a coupe-profile.
Getting comfortable is easy & both front passengers have good head & leg room. Rear leg room though isn’t great, especially if you’re sitting behind a tall driver. Rear head room is okay though.
For storage, there’s an average sized glove box, two largish front door pockets, storage under the adjustable centre armrest, a spot for your key card & a couple of drinks holders.
With 391 litres on offer, the boot is bigger than that in the Fiesta. Fold down the rear seats & this increases to an impressive 1,069 litres. The boat’s also a useful shape, being both deep & wide, but it does feature a high boot lip.
Driving a small, powerful, car, fitted with an auto box, is asking for your’s truly to make the most of it & the 128bhp on offer doesn’t disappoint. On the open road or motorway, this Clio is immense fun to drive, offering nippy overtaking when required & as in the Clio tradition, road-hugging handling. The Clio has offered plenty of driving thrills over the years & with the R.S Line version anyway, Renault has upheld this. I found that it more than matches the class-leading Fiesta’s road manners, with a top quality ride, alongside it’s handling & performance. A lot of this is due to the dual-clutch gearbox which helps maximise performance.
If you’re a fleet customer reading this though, you’re probably not going to want the range topper, which is a shame but understandable. The cheapest Clio to run is of course, the 1’5 litre diesel Blue dCi 85, with a combined economy of 67.2mpg & emissions of 94g/km. The diesel’s do cost a bit more than the equivalent petrol SCe 75 or TCe 100 models, but if you’re a high mileage driver, you will recoup the extra cost in fuel savings. And, if you’re a diesel hater, the petrol TCe 100 is the most efficient petrol Clio, returning a claimed 54.3mpg, coupled to emissions of 99g/km.
I have to conclude that the new Clio very much surprised me, but in a good way. IW ain’t expecting it to be a s ago a sit is. It’s not the most striking car to look at, but as we fond out, it’s loads of fun to drive & comes with the tastiest interior of any car in the sector.
The only negative we could find was with fuel economy. Renault claim 49.6mpg on the combined cycle for this model. In our 300+ mile week, driven on a mix of roads, we only achieved 39.8mpg, so about 20% less. And, before you ask, we did drive a lot of this in the Eco drive mode – there’s also Sport or Multi Sense drive modes as well. We blame that auto gear box.
The Clio is back & it’s better than ever 4/5