Renault Clio hatchback review
"A splendid interior, hybrid technology and extra space makes the Renault Clio a real contender in the supermini class"
- Great interior
- Well equipped
- Very safe
- Most popular engine comes with a five-speed gearbox
- High loading lip
- Wind and road noise
The Renault Clio is a popular supermini that routinely trails the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo in UK sales charts but outsold both in the European market in 2018, with Renault shifting over 335,000. The latest Clio is the fifth-generation model, and despite obvious similarities to its predecessor from the outside, it is in fact all-new.
According to customer feedback, exterior design was one of the key factors in the last Clio's success, so Renault hasn't broken the mould, instead smoothing its edges and adding some new details and features for a more mature look. But rest assured that underneath its metalwork, the Clio incorporates all-new technology that Renault promises makes it more efficient, spacious and desirable.
The changes can really be felt when you swing open one of the Clio’s doors because its interior now has more soft-touch plastics than an Audi A1. It's a radical makeover that transforms the inside of the humble Clio from economy to club class, with a portrait 9.3-inch touchscreen on hand for every infotainment need. If you aren't keen on Renault's user interface, the system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while a digital instrument panel can show sat-nav directions as you drive.
With so many Clios bought as first cars and family runarounds, the fact it already has a five-star Euro NCAP score before reaching showrooms is a big plus. Autonomous emergency braking is standard, and the Clio is the first Renault with an optional 360-degree camera - a feature once only found in Range Rovers.
The Clio is a fun, accomplished car to drive. It stands as a very effective compromise between comfort and handling - one that means the Clio matches rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and SEAT Ibiza in the dynamics department without bettering them. The Clio’s steering has been sharpened up slightly and there's little body lean, while the 1.0-litre petrol with 99bhp offers plenty of performance. This is the sweet spot in the range, with the non-turbo 1.0-litre lacking grunt and the range-topping 1.3-litre TCe petrol only offered in top trims with an automatic gearbox.
A 1.5-litre dCi diesel will appeal to motorway drivers but it'll take plenty of miles to make it cheaper to own than the petrol models, and it has a higher Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rating for company-car drivers.
The Clio E-Tech hybrid version could make more sense, thanks to even lower CO2 emissions. With a small battery pack, an electric motor that harvests energy under braking, and another that can power the front wheels at up to 40mph, Renault reckons it will save up to 40% of the fuel normally used in stop-start urban driving. Sure enough, the hybrid manages 64.2mpg - just shy of the diesel.
The latest Renault Clio matches the driving finesse of the Ford Fiesta and outshines the Ford in other areas. Its interior is one of the best in class, while generous interior space, excellent safety and low running costs should help make it a firm family favourite.