The Renault Clio is one of the more attractive superminis on sale, backed up by a range of efficient diesel and petrol engines, good refinement and comfort and a host of personalisation options. Rivals are plentiful and include the solid and classy Volkswagen Polo, the dependable Vauxhall Corsa and the best-selling Ford Fiesta.
Unlike most of its competitors, the Clio is available as a five-door only, although thanks to clever styling, it could pass as a three-door. There's a Clio for everyone, from the person who just wants an urban runaround to the sports-car driver seeking an adrenaline rush (we’ve reviewed the Clio Renaultsport hot hatch separately).
The regular Clios come with a range of small-capacity petrol and diesel engines. Our favourite petrol is the Energy TCe 90. It does 61.4mpg and costs £20 a year to tax. That's impressive for a petrol, but not as good as the most economical engine in the line-up, the Energy dCi 90 Eco diesel. This achieves 88.3mpg and costs nothing at all to tax.
The TCe 90 is great around town but can run out of puff on the motorway and feels a little tiring on a long cruise. The dCi diesel is a better, more rounded engine – as at home nipping down city streets as it is cruising faster roads. However, it's also around £1,500 dearer, so if your annual mileage is low you may be better off with the petrol TCe. There is, however, a slightly cheaper diesel called the Energy dCi 90, which returns a still-impressive 85.6mpg.
Thanks to some glossy black plastic trim, the interior looks quite fresh and classy, while the Dynamique Nav version has a large tablet-style touchscreen display. However, it's all a bit rattly and there are some cheap plastics lower down in the cabin.
There's more than enough space in the front of the Clio, but rear-seat passengers will feel short-changed. There's not much space back there, a situation made worse by the sloping roofline and high-set seats. On the plus side, the Clio's boot is surprisingly large for a supermini, and easy to load.
The Clio comes in five trim levels, ranging from Expression to GT Line Nav. We like the mid-range Dynamique Nav, which has alloy wheels, sat nav, a seven-inch touchscreen and air-conditioning as standard.
Reliability has never been the Clio's strong point, but indications are that the current model is a big improvement on its predecessors in this respect. Its safety credentials are very impressive. Euro NCAP awarded the car five stars for crash-worthiness, while standard equipment includes electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and emergency braking assistance.
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