Renault are having a company car renaissance at present,aided by the their most popular models ,the Clio, Captur & Megane now being offered with hybrid or plug in hybrid drive trains. We were given the opportunity to spend a week in each of these clever cars, with the first one to arrive at CCV Towers, the Clio E-Tech, which is a self charging hybrid.
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 this E-Tech version kicking things off.
Inside, the new interior is a breath of fresh air. 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 the 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 9.3″ touchscreen infotainment display has been designed to lean towards the driver & with it’s portrait shape, a nod to Tesla & Volvo, offers crystal clear graphics. It’s also easier to reach, to touch & to use than most of the competition.
Trim & spec
As with the standard Clio, E-Tech comes in four trims; Play, Iconic, S Edition & top-spec R.S. Line. Prices start at £20,600 for Play going up to £23,600 for the R.S Line. 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.
Interior space & storage
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. 301 979
With 301 litres on offer, the boot is 90 litres smaller than the standard Clio thanks to the battery. than that in the Fiesta. Fold down the rear seats & this increases to 979 litres, also down by 90 litres on the standard Clio.
What’s so different about the hybrid version ?
We were testing the S Edition which retails from £21,995. From the outside, the E-Tech look’s like a regular Clio, with just the E Tech badge on the rear marking it out as different. Inside too, it’s kitted out just like a regular Clio, with only the automatic gear lever & the edition of the regenerative braking B, located next to Drive in the gearbox & a 7″ TFT drivers information display.
Although this latest Clio shares much of it’s architecture with sister brand 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.
The E-Tech is powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol, supported by two electric motors, a 1.2kWh battery & a clutch less gearbox. The larger of the two electric motors starts the car & gets you moving from standstill, so that you always pull away under electric power. The smaller second electric motor is there to start the petrol engine & also smoothes out the clutch less gear changes. If you drive slowly, you can in theory reach 40mph in pure-electric mode, but in our experience, the petrol engine fires up at about 20mph. You can prevent the engine kicking in by selecting the EV button on the dash, but as with other self charging hybrids, this will only last for a few miles at most before the battery is depleted.
The clutch-less gearbox does what it’s supposed to do, but similarly to the CVT system favoured by Toyota, there’s a lot of whining as the gearbox changes up through the gears. This isn’t an issue per se, just a reflection of the technology on this car & it doesn’t affect the top speed of 112mph & a 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds.
As a whole, the best way to enjoy the Clio E-Tech is just to sit back & let it do it’s own thing. We travelled 300 miles in our test week averaging an impressive 54.3 mpg. Drive in D mode & this Clio is great fun. Select the B regenerative braking & the fun is stifled slightly, as the car use the brakes to re charge your electric range whilst on the move.
As with the rest of the Clio range, the ride is a little harder than in the petrol, but overall is comfortable & still retains a sense of fun. It also offers a high-quality superminis package for the price. The steering is sharp & the car responds well around corners.
Without really trying it’s almost impossible to not to achieve 50mpg. By going into the touchscreen you can check on your electric & petrol use, with in our 300 miles 60 miles driven in electric power.
The E-Tech version arrives in the UK with emissions of 99g/km & 22% BIK, which means for company car drivers & fleet managers alike, if you’re looking for small car, this is the Clio to consider first.
The current Clio is not our Small Car of the Year for nothing. It’s well made, fun to drive, features great tech & safety as well as being competitively priced. With four model choices, the Clio E-Tech is unashamedly aimed at fleet customers & for many public sector employees, choosing this Clio will substantially reduce your BIK. Yes the clutch-less gearbox can be a bit noisy & response slower than you’d expect from a hybrid, But, it’s such an easy car to drive, that we can forgive it that one little niggle.
Model: Renault Clio S Edition E-Tech Hybrid
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl petrol/hybrid
Power/torque: 138bhp/144Nm (+250Nm electric motor)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Acceleration. 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Economy: Claimed combined 64.2mpg. As tested 54.3mpg.