First Drive: Renault Clio
SECTOR Supermini PRICE £10,595 – £16,095 FUEL 88.3 – 51.4mpg CO2 83 – 127g/km
Renault is claiming that the fourth generation Clio sets new standards in quality, dynamism and efficiency, as well as being bigger yet lighter than its predecessor. The firm certainly needs its most famous small car – the touchstone of its brand identity – to deliver because generally when the Clio has been good, Renault has been good, and with sales in Europe falling (albeit counteracted by smart investments and strong sales in other markets) it needs strong supermini sales to kickstart its regengeration.
Three engines are available with the new Clio: a 75bhp 1.2-litre petrol, parsimonious 90bhp 1.5 dCi with emissions as low as 83g/km and a three cylinder turbocharged 0.9-litre 90bhp petrol.Priced from £10,595 to £16,095, the new five-door only version comes in four trim levels, which are a bit on the confusing side, which is often Renault’s wont: Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav, with ECO versions in Expression+ and Dynamique MediaNav trim levels.
The Clio comes packed with a lot of equipment as standard including a Bass Reflex speaker system, Bluetooth radio with USB port and jack socket, Hill Start Assist, keyless entry and ignition, 7” touchscreen MediaNav infotainment system with integrated navigation (Dynamique MediaNav and above) as well as safety and comfort features such as driver/passenger/side and curtain airbags, electric front windows and door mirrors, Electronic Stability Control and Electronic Traction Control. Occupants can make the Clio their own, downloading Apps, music, sending emails and connecting with social media from the optional R-Link system, which costs £450 on Dynamique MediaNav and above. It’s all part of making the car more personal to the driver, and this extends to a selection of stickers, interior trims and wheels too.
Inside, a fully adjustable seating position, clear instrumentation including digital speedo and a stylish wing-shaped dash create a modern, uncluttered look. The Clio has a much larger, more spacious cabin for both front and rear passengers due to a longer wheelbase and wider track, while boot capacity has increased by 12 litres to 300 litres. Yet despite these increases, the new Clio is on average 100kg lighter than its predecessor thanks to innovations such as a thermoplastic tailgate and weight-optimised componentry.
All Clios now have five doors, the market for three door superminis having proved to be extinct and it is noticeable how much more muscular this Laurence van den Acker-designed car is than the increasingly weedy lines of the last two.
Renault has spent a lot of time and money on the suspension of the new Clio, which has advanced McPherson struts linked to triangular lower wishbones and double bushes at the front and a torsion beam with coil springs at the back. As a result it turns in sharply, is composed through bends and under braking is pretty good too, holding nice and flat, while the steering feel is meaty and the gearchange snappy.
Having said that, of the two engines we drove, the three cylinder petrol and diesel are both perfectly good units, with the petrol one full of character and fairly zippy despite its size. For higher mileage fleet drivers, the diesel might suit but it is more expensive and as with all diesel superminis, you’d have to do you sums very carefully to work out if its was worth the extra outlay.
The new Clio is a cracking little car to drive, especially the brilliant new three cylinder petrol engine. With a vastly improved cabin and some quality touches which will help residual values no end, the new Clio is a huge leap forward and is now up among the best in the sector.