Renault Clio: car review

Posted on February 28th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

The new Clio is near best in class due to great drive and low costs.

Renault Clio: car review

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What is it?
The all-new version of the Renault Clio supermini. It’s bigger and more grown-up than before and only available as a five-door hatchback.

How safe is it?
Renault sees safety as one of its core values and the Clio is no exception. Scoring by Euro NCAP puts the new Clio as one of the best cars in its segment.

Who should buy one?
Those looking for a fun yet frugal and safe supermini that’s after an excellent all-rounder at a fair price. The range starts from £10,595.


Our review: Good Motoring, Spring 2013

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Renault Clio: car review
Renault’s new Clio, which goes on sale in February, is a welcome arrival for fans of the traditional French hatchback.
For the uninitiated this means cars that are not only fun to drive, but that are also comfortable too.

Unlike some rivals, mainly German and Japanese, the fun-to-drive element extends across the entire engine range and isn’t limited to the top-end performance versions, with their high price tags and lofty running costs.

In the Clio’s case the engine line-up is refreshingly simple with four petrol engines ranging from a 75hp 1.2 though a 90hp 0.9 to a 200hp 1.6. For buyers who prefer the economy of a diesel there are two 1.5-litre diesels with power outputs of 75hp and 90hp.

The entry-level 75hp 1.2 promises rather steady acceleration, with a claimed 0-62mph time of 15.4 seconds. Both the 90hp cars offer good levels of performance, with 0-62mph coming up in 11.8 seconds for the petrol and 12.0 seconds for the diesel. (Both these figures are for the Eco versions, which have lower emissions that non-Eco models.) However, despite the small on-paper performance disadvantage it’s the diesel that is the better of the two thanks to more torque, or shove, lower down the rev range. This suits the car’s character better because the performance is more accessible, with no need to work the engine hard to really get a move on. The 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol needs to be revved more to exploit the car’s performance.

On the right road and in the right mood this can be fun, but on an everyday basis the diesel offers better real-world performance and substantially better economy.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Renault Clio: car review
Possibly the most significant change between the first three generations of Clio and the latest, fourth generation car is that the new model will only be available as a five-door hatchback. To make up for eschewing the three-door variant, Renault has styled the Clio to have a ‘hidden’ door handle for the rear doors, similar to the way the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and outgoing Seat Leon rear doors are designed. It’s a neat looking solution for potential buyers who would usually prefer the more youthful style of a three-door.

However, as well as helping the car’s looks, the fact that Renault is only going for a five-door car means the designers have been able to concentrate on the practicalities.

The new Clio is 76mm longer than the outgoing version, which translates into a boot that’s 12 litres up, totalling 300, putting it near the top of the supermini sector when it comes to boot space. The additional length also means there’s good room in the rear seats.

SAFETY
Renault Clio: car review
The new Clio is an impressively safe car. In its class the Clio comes top for three of the four categories assessed by the Euro NCAP system. As well as gaining the maximum five-star rating as an overall score it is best-in-class for child protection, pedestrian impact and safety assistance systems.

The Clio scores 99% for safety assistance thanks to standard ESP across the range, seatbelt reminders for all occupants and a speed limiter.

 

EQUIPMENT
Renault Clio: car review
Renault has given the Clio a competitor-bashing level of standard equipment.
All cars get Bluetooth, a USB connection, a good stereo and powered heated door mirrors.

Move up the range from the base Expression model to the Expression+ for alloy wheels, front fog lights and air conditioning.
Dynamique Medianav includes touch-screen sat nav with an even better stereo and larger 16-inch alloys.
The range topping Dynamique S Medianav adds17-inch alloys, plus climate control and rear parking sensors.

 

COSTS
Renault Clio: car review
Not only is the new Clio more practical and better equipped than many rivals, it’s also aggressively priced.
The range starts at £10,595 for the 75hp 1.2 Expression. Even the most efficient 90hp 1.5 ECO in Dynamic Medianav trim is still a very attractive £15,345.

This engine will not only qualify for band A in terms of VED thanks to a CO2 output of 83g/km, but has a quite stunning official combined fuel figure of 88.3mpg.

WE SAY
Near best in class due to great drive and low costs.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £15,345
Performance: 0-62mph 12.1 seconds
Economy: 88.3mpg
Insurance: 14 (1-50)
Tax: Band A (£0 first year)
(Figures for Renault Clio 1.5dCi 90 ECO Dynamique Nav 5dr manual)