In-depth reviews

Renault Clio hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

The Renault Clio is now as good to drive as its closest rivals

Carbuyer Rating

4.4 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.5 out of 5

The latest Renault Clio matches its rivals in the handling department, with more responsive steering than the old model, plenty of grip and a reassuring resistance to body lean through tight corners. It strikes a good balance between solid handling and decent comfort.

Renault Clio petrol engines

Having slimmed down the Clio’s engine range, Renault now offers one petrol engine along with the hybrid Clio E-Tech. The Clio's engine range previously kicked off with a three-cylinder 1.0-litre ‘SCe’ petrol offering 64bhp, followed by a peppier 90bhp version badged TCe thanks to its turbocharger. We've tried the latter, which has proved the sweet spot in the Clio range and is now the sole remaining petrol engine. We found it just about quick enough for most situations (although a Fiesta will get off the line with more haste) as long as you keep it spinning above around 2,500rpm because any less and you'll most likely find yourself reaching for a lower gear, particularly if you're heading uphill. 

The six-speed gearbox fitted in the TCe 90 feels good and is easy to shift. Renault's X-tronic CVT automatic gearbox is no longer available for the 90bhp model, but find a used example and it has stepped changes for those who don't like the ‘rubber band’ nature of a CVT and prefer the feel of accelerating through fixed ratios.

In the 1.0-litre models, 0-62mph takes 12.2 seconds in the TCe 90 and a lacklustre 17.1 seconds in the previous base model, which was one of the slowest-accelerating cars on sale. The Hybrid is the model to go for if you want the best performance, as it takes 9.9 seconds to cover the same benchmark.

Hybrid engine

The Clio E-Tech Hybrid uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, two electric motors and a 1.2kWh lithium-ion battery. Because you can't plug in the Clio E-Tech, its closest rivals are hybrid superminis like the Toyota Yaris hybrid and Honda Jazz, and there's currently no full-hybrid option for the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa or Volkswagen Polo. The car harvests energy while slowing down and puts it back into the battery, then uses it to power the car at speeds up to 40mph.

A complex clutchless automatic gearbox derived from Formula 1 technology shuffles power between the power sources but the Clio always starts in EV mode. We found it's possible to accelerate up to 40mph in electric mode, if you are very gentle with the throttle. More often, the petrol engine kicks in at around 20mph but this is so seamless most won't even notice. 

Around town, the E-Tech is in its element, switching between petrol and electric smoothly and feeling more sophisticated than either the Toyota Yaris or Honda Jazz. When asked to quickly overtake slower traffic the powertrain can become slightly flustered as it decides the best gear to select, but it's a small complaint.

It's possible to put the Clio in a pure-electric mode, perhaps if you're in a town centre or car park for example, and nudging the gear lever into 'B' mode boosts the regenerative braking considerably, to the point the E-Tech can be driven almost entirely using the accelerator pedal.

Diesel engines

Although it’s not on sale any more, there was a diesel version with a Blue dCi engine – it was a 1.5-litre and was only available for a short time. It’s not particularly quick, accelerating from 0-62mph in 14.7 seconds, but if you’re looking for a used model for lots of motorway trips, it’s worth a look.

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 SCe 65 Iconic 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £16,520

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 E-TECH Hybrid 140 Iconic 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £20,970

Fastest

  • Name
    1.6 E-TECH Hybrid 140 Iconic 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £20,970

Recommended

Renault Clio hatchback review
Best small car: Renault Clio
In-depth reviews
22 Jul 2022

Renault Clio hatchback review

Top 10 best new cars under £20,000
Renault Clio front corner
Best cars
3 Jun 2022

Top 10 best new cars under £20,000

Top 10 best Motability cars 2022
Renault Clio hatchback
Car buying
18 May 2022

Top 10 best Motability cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap cars 2022
Dacia Duster SUV
Best cars
13 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap cars 2022

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers
MG HS
Deals
12 Aug 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers

Nissan Ariya vs Volvo XC40 vs Volkswagen ID.4 - which is best?
Hero image
News
11 Aug 2022

Nissan Ariya vs Volvo XC40 vs Volkswagen ID.4 - which is best?

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N spotted testing
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N
News
11 Aug 2022

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N spotted testing

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2022

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
20 Jun 2022

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
12 Jul 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
12 Jul 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
24 Jun 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022