Review

Renault Clio hatchback

£11,145 - £18,275

The Renault Clio is arguably the most stylish supermini on sale today, and it matches this style to a range of modern and efficient petrol and diesel engines. Renault also allows a good deal of personalisation for the Clio, and it's also a refined and comfortable car to drive.

Superminis are big sellers in Britain, though, and competition for the Clio is tough. Rivals like the trusty Vauxhall Corsa, sharp-handling Ford Fiesta and classy Volkswagen Polo all offer convincing alternatives to the French car.

Renault only offers the Clio as a five-door, but its sleek styling means it retains the elegance of a three-door supermini despite this. Aside from this constraint, the Renault Clio is available in a number of forms, from a competent city runabout to the Renaultsport RS full-blown sports car – a car so performance-orientated that we’ve given it its own review.

The Renault Clio is available with a modern range of small yet efficient petrol and diesel engines. The best of the petrols is the TCe 90, thanks to its impressive 61.4mpg fuel economy and £20 annual tax bill – strong figures for a petrol engine.

If you want something even more efficient, then a Clio with the dCi 90 ECO diesel engine could be for you. The dCi 90 ECO is road-tax-exempt thanks to its low CO2 emissions and returns a truly frugal 88.3mpg – although it costs about £1,500 more to buy than the petrol.

A Clio fitted with the TCe 90 petrol engine makes for a great town car, but if you do a lot of motorway miles, you may find it a little lacking in power. The dCi diesels are better all-round engines: they’re as nippy around town as the petrol, yet also capable of holding their own on the motorway. If you do a lot of miles a year, we’d recommend spending the extra cash on a diesel. The dCi 90 engine is also available in non-ECO guise, making it a little cheaper than the ECO, but still capable of 85.6mpg economy.

The Clio's interior feels classy thanks to its glossy black trim, while the tablet-style touchscreen of the Dynamique Nav adds a distinctly modern air to proceedings. Some interior plastics lower down in the cabin seem less refined, though, and the interior doesn’t feel as well put together as rivals like the Volkswagen Polo.

The driver and front-seat passenger in the Clio have plenty of room, but there may be complaints from those sitting in the rear: the Clio isn’t particularly spacious in the back and its sloping roofline and high rear seats conspire to make it feel even more cramped. Conversely, the boot is remarkably big for a supermini, as well as being easy to load.

Renault offers the Clio in six trim levels, starting with Play and rising to top-spec GT Line Nav. We recommend avoiding the entry-level and top-of-the-range Clios and choose the mid-range Dynamique Nav. This comes with sat nav as its name suggests, as well as alloy wheels, a clear and responsive seven-inch touchscreen and air-conditioning.

Customer satisfaction has been a concern for Clio owners in the past, but Renault seems to have partly addressed this with the fourth-generation model: it placed a respectable 70th out of 200 cars in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Compare this to the 189th place the previous Clio managed and it's clear to see that this latest model is a much more appealing prospect. Reliability is still not the Clio's strongest suit, though – it ranked relatively poorly for this in the survey.

These issues aside, the latest Renault Clio is definitely a very safe car: it was awarded the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash-safety tests, thanks in part to its driver-assistance technology. Renault fits emergency braking assistance, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control as standard to all Clios.

Still deciding what you want? Watch our video below to find out what we think is the best small car.