Review

Renault Clio hatchback

Price  £11,145 - £18,275

Renault Clio hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Fun to drive
  • Striking looks
  • Efficient engines
Cons
  • Cheap-feeling interior
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Limited range

At a glance

The greenest
Expression+ dCi 90 ECO 5dr £15,225
The cheapest
Expression 1.2 16V 75 5dr £11,145
The fastest
GT-Line Nav 120 Auto 5dr £17,725
Top of the range
Dynamique S Nav dCi 90 Auto 5dr £18,275

"The fourth-generation Clio is bigger and more stylish than ever, and it's one of the most affordable superminis to buy and run – if not the best to drive."

The Renault Clio has always been a byword for style, no more so than in its present form. Its attractive, curvaceous lines stand out in a field dominated by fairly conservative rivals, among them the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa. True, the model could be accused of placing style over substance (it's cramped in the back, cabin quality could be better and it's not the most fun supermini to drive), but it's good value (the price includes a four-year warranty) and boasts a couple of extremely efficient engines.

It used to come in a choice of three or five-door body styles, but today's Clio is available in five-door form only. Not that you'd know it: the rear doors are so well integrated that, from a distance, it looks like a sporty three-door. Talking of which, there's a super-sporty Renaultsport version, which we've reviewed separately.

Here, we're concerned with the mainstream versions powered by a choice of three petrol engines – a rather underwhelming 1.2-litre, an economical 0.9-litre turbo and a powerful 1.2-litre automatic – and one diesel. This last engine is a 1.5-litre that's capable of 83.1mpg and is exempt from road tax. However, the 0.9-litre petrol is pretty frugal, too. In ECO form, it's capable of 65.7mpg and again costs nothing to tax. Even the non-ECO version does 62.8mpg for just £20-a-year tax.

The 0.9-litre petrol is great for point-and-shoot town driving, but feels a little breathless on the motorway. The diesel is the more rounded engine: responsive in town, but also ideal for relaxed, long-distance cruising. It costs more than the petrol, so as always in these comparisons, you need to be sure your mileage is high enough (over 15,000 a year) to justify the extra outlay.

Given the choice, and assuming we only occasionally ventured on the motorway, we'd plump for the 0.9-litre petrol. The manual gearbox that's fitted as standard to the Clio isn't the smoothest, so the automatic that's available with the diesel and more powerful 1.2-litre petrol could be worth a try. It's heavy, though, and blunts the Clio's handling as a result.

The Clio is available in five trim levels: Expression, Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and GT-Line. Our vote goes to Dthe ynamique Nav for its good balance of specification (sat nav, an uprated sound system, air-conditioning and a seven-inch touchscreen and a reasonable price. The higher-spec Dynamique S Nav brings extras such as automatic climate control, larger alloy wheels and rear parking sensors, but even so, its higher price is hard to justify.

Fortunately, whichever trim level you choose, excellent safety comes as standard, with highlights including a full complement of airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring and ISOFIX child-seat mounts on the outer rear seats. In addition, the car achieved five stars in its Euro NCAP crash tests.

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MPG, running costs & CO2

4.2 / 5

The Renault Clio is a real star when it comes to keeping running costs down, with some of the most efficient petrol and diesel engines in the class.

Engines, drive & performance

3.5 / 5

The Renault Clio has a good range of engines with decent performance, but the supermini’s handling isn’t quite up to scratch.

Interior & comfort

3.7 / 5

The Renault Clio feels like a larger and more grown-up car than many of its competitors – it’s quiet and comfortable inside.

Practicality & boot space

3.2 / 5

This latest Renault Clio looks bigger than its predecessors from outside, but it’s still a bit cramped inside – particularly in the back.

Reliability & safety

3.1 / 5

Safety has always been a Renault Clio strong point, while traditionally poor reliability seems to be improving.

What the others say

3.5 / 5
based on 3 reviews
3 / 5
"There's a comprehensive set of engines and trim levels to choose from, but the drive still trails the Fiesta and the interior quality can't quite match the best in class."
4 / 5
"The Clio might not offer the supreme handling precision of a Ford Fiesta, but it's still pretty game and can easily be made to flow through a series of bends."
7 / 10
“The handling feels like it could comfortably use more power. It's agile and the back end joins in the fun. The steering's well-weighted and positive, if a little short on feel. The Clio rolls a bit, but it's up for having a laugh.”
What owners say 
4.0757505773672
4.1 /5 based on 433 reviews
61%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
13 May 2015
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