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Road Test: Renault Clio Dynamique S Nav dCi 110

The Clio feels a class above with its new Megane-sourced diesel drivetrain, says Alex Grant.

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Sector: Supermini Price: £18,705 Fuel: 80.7mpg CO2: 90g/km

In a period spanning half the Clio’s lifespan, the range it launched into has all but disappeared, replaced by a streamlined portfolio competing in the right segments, with a strong visual identity across them. A process which has now come full circle, benefitting the car that ushered it in.

The distinctive C-shaped lighting of the Megane, Koleos and Talisman implied we might have been in for a more substantial update than has actually materialised. Not a criticism; the outgoing car was good enough to take on the class leaders, and a nip-tuck of the bumpers and headlights – which are full-LED units on the Dynamique S tested here – is all it really needed to feel like the junior Megane.

That’s a sense that runs right through this new version. Subsequent Renaults had shown a big step up in interior materials and that’s where the improvements have focused here. All of the parts of the interior you’ll touch the most are new – the gear lever, front door panels, seat fabric and air vents and even the steering wheel, which is now wrapped in soft-touch leather rather than having a plastic insert like the old car. Details, maybe, but they’re important ones.

What you don’t get is the accompanying generational improvements in infotainment system. Even the Dynamique S is offered with the MediaNav setup. Our test car had the £600 optional Techno Pack, adding R-Link, but it’s the old version rather than the more intuitive, less crash-prone R-Link 2 used in the newer Renault products. Technology that was fiddly to use in 2013 hasn’t improved with age, and there’s no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay option to bring it up to date.

However, you can now choose from some of the engines offered in Renault’s bigger models. The dCi 110 – as found in the Kadjar and Megane – is available on the Dynamique S and Signature, with a £700 price walk from the dCi 90 available from launch. There’s a small drop in combined cycle fuel economy – 80.7mpg versus 85.6mpg – though the accompanying rise in CO2 from 85g/km to 90g/km is unlikely to be a dealbreaker for business users.

The significant addition here isn’t the extra power, though even compared to the dCi 90 it does make a big change to the way the Clio drives. It’ll whirr quietly up to motorway speeds without feeling stretched, which makes for a more laid-back drive, but the big change is the extra gear to slot it into when you get there. Sixth gear means less diesel buzz on long journeys, which makes it less tiring to drive, and by keeping the revs down it’s also more fuel efficient than the less powerful version.

Which makes the Clio an even better downsizing option for those who don’t often need the space of a larger hatchback. It’s roomy, great to drive and feels even better built than the version offered since launch. Signs that the product revolution at Renault is continuing at pace.

What We Think

The Clio was one of the best cars in its class at launch, and that’s hardly faded in the years since. A little more power and gearing for long distances mean it’s an even better downsizing option.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.