Renault Clio hatchback
Price £10,795 - £17,595
- Attractive design
- Lots personalisation options
- Fuel efficient engines
- No estate version in UK
- Light steering
- Body roll in corners
At a glance
“The new Renault Clio is practical, stylish and fun to drive. It's a huge improvement over its predecessor.”
The most recent generation of the Renault Clio is only available as a five-door car, which means it has added practicality against its three-door rivals. The Clio loses none of a three-door car's perceived youthful image, because Renault has hidden the rear-door handles in the car's C-pillars behind the rear doors.
The Clio is available with a range of engines, which means you can choose from economical diesels or quieter petrol engines. Whichever model you go for, the Clio should be cheap to run. The car is lighter than the one it replaces, to save fuel, which also makes the new Clio feel more fun to drive.
While the Clio is not available with an fully-automatic gearbox, it can be specced with a dual-clutch manual which offers button-operated gear shifts, and effectively gives the driver the best of both worlds. This makes it easy to drive around town, yet fun to drive on the open road.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Engines are some of the most efficient and cheapest to run in the supermini class
No Renault Clio is expensive to run, but the most frugal engine is the 1.5-litre diesel, which returns impressive economy of 83.1mpg and emissions of 90g/km meaning it qualifies for free road tax.
The 1.2-litre petrol is the most basic engine option, but it is more expensive to run than the diesel – returning fuel economy of 51.4mpg. The small, but high-tech, 900cc petrol engine is actually more powerful than the basic engine, as well as being more economical to run. It is capable of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km, meaning annual road tax will set you back just £20. It's more expensive to buy, though.
The Renault Clio GT is fitted with the 1.2-litre TCe petrol engine and gets Renault's twin-clutch automatic gearbox. It returns 54.3mpg and emissions that translate into road tax of £30 every 12 months.
Interior & comfort
Comfortable and quiet, it feels like a big car in a small package
The Renault Clio is a small car, with a big-car feel. The 1.5-litre diesel, in particular, feels at home at motorway speeds, and all Clios are quiet, with only a little wind and engine noise making its way into the interior. Aside from the high-power Renaultsport Clio (which we’ve tested separately), all Clios have quite bouncy suspension, which means there is more body lean in the corners than we would like from a fun-to-drive small car. However, that does make the car more comfortable on the motorway than a SEAT Ibiza.
The entire range offers plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment, so any driver should be able to get comfortable.
Practicality & boot space
The Clio has grown, but it still feels a little cramped inside
The Renault Clio is quite a bit bigger than the car it replaces and as a result it has a larger interior. The boot has grown by 12 litres (offering 300 litres in total) which compares well to the Ford Fiesta (276 litres) and Peugeot 208 (285 litres). Fold the Clio's 60:40 split rear seats down, and the car's load-lugging capacity increases to 1,146 litres.
The new car's wheelbase (the length between the front and rear wheels) is 100mm longer than the Ford Fiesta's, but the Renault actually offers less space for rear-seat passengers – thanks in part to its low roofline. However, the car's five doors do mean that access to the rear seats is excellent.
The Clio also has plenty of storage areas dotted around the interior – including door bins, cupholders and a cubbyhole in front of the gearlever. That said, the car's glovebox is very small.
Reliability & safety
Improved build quality should stand the test of time
The words ‘reliability’ and ‘safety’ reveal contrasting fortunes for the Clio. French cars tend to have a poor record for reliability – with temperamental electronics being a particular bugbear. Sadly, this is something that seems to be borne out by our 2013 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, where Renault finished a disappointing 21st out of 32 manufacturers. Although to be fair, this was still ahead of Ford (23rd) and Peugeot (31st).
Thankfully, safety reveals a completely different outcome and the Clio got the full five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP. The hatchback scored 88 per cent for adult protection and 89 per cent for child protection – scores that more or less match the Fiesta and Peugeot. The Clio was also marked ahead of the Fiesta, for having seatbelt reminders for both front and rear seats.
Engines, drive & performance
Quieter on the motorway, but more agile when you need it
The best-driving Clio model is the Renaultsport Clio, but all models are fun to drive. The 900cc petrol is particularly suited to town driving, thanks to its impressive fuel economy figures and nippy low-speed performance. At higher speeds, though, it struggles and cannot match the similarly small-engined Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost.
If you are going to spend a lot of time on the motorway, then the 1.5-litre dCi diesel is a much better bet. It is very refined – meaning the interior is quiet at motorway speeds, but also offers a decent amount of power for overtaking.
While the basic 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol feels quite slow (it takes 15.4 seconds to get from 0-60mph), the Renault Clio GT bridges the gap between the high-power Renaultsport models and the standard cars. As a result, it gets from 0-60mph in 9.9 seconds and has a top speed of 121mph. The GT also has stiffer suspension than lesser models, meaning it suffers less body lean in the corners.
Price, value for money & options
Competitive pricing backed by plenty of standard equipment
The basic Clio actually costs more than either the Ford Fiesta or the Peugeot 208, but it does get equipment including electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, a USB port for your MP3 player and a stereo with integrated Bluetooth phone connection. Bright LED daytime running lights and remote central locking are also standard.
Get the Clio Expression+, and the equipment list grows to include alloy wheels, front foglights, and air-conditioning. The next model up is the Dynamique Media Nav, which gets sat-nav, keyless entry and start, 16-inch alloy wheels, plus auto headlights and wipers, while Dynamique S Media Nav models add electric rear windows and climate control. Finally, GT models get unique interior trim, sportier suspension, and an upgraded TomTom sat-nav system.
We would expect used values for the Clio to closely match the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208.
What the others say
“We're not normally fans of touch-screens in cars – they tend to be fiddly to use on the move – but the Clio's screen has large, spot-at-a-glance icons, so it's impressively simple to navigate.”
"With sales figures in Europe not looking too rosy, the pressure was on for Renault to deliver with the Clio, and it has. The thoughtful design combines practicality and flair, inside and out, while the huge range of personalisation should be a useful money-spinner. Although pricier than the petrol options, the diesel engine is incredibly efficient and refined, giving the car a grown-up feel. Our main criticism is that it could be more exciting to drive, but then there's still the Renaultsport version to come…"
“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.”