Renault Clio hatchback (2005-2012)
"The Renault Clio offers practicality and space, and even the three-door model is comfortable for four adults."
- Large, comfortable cabin
- Enjoyable to drive
- Smooth petrol engines
- Hard dashboard on cheapest cars
- Bewildering choice of models
- Poor resale values
If you can’t find a Renault Clio to suit you, then you’re not looking hard enough! The French supermini is offered in either three or five-door body styles, with the choice of engines ranging from an inexpensive 75bhp 1.2-litre petrol, to a feisty 2.0-litre sporting flagship with 200bhp. All Clios offer practicality and space - even the three-door model is big enough to carry four adults in comfort - and are great to drive. The 1.2-litre TCe with 100bhp provides the best mix of performance and economy, while Dynamique trim brings desirable equipment like air-conditioning as standard.
MPG, running costs & CO2
If fuel consumption is your ultimate goal, then the 1.5 dCi diesel can return 64.2mpg, but it’s not particularly quiet and costs around £1,000 more than the excellent 1.2-litre TCe petrol. Running costs shouldn’t shock, but when you come to sell it you’ll find the Clio doesn’t hold its value quite as well as rivals like the Skoda Fabia or SEAT Ibiza.
Frugal engines mean low fuel and tax bills though, and its excellent five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests and good security should mean inexpensive insurance quotes.
Engines, drive & performance
With light, accurate steering, the Renault Clio is easy to drive around town. Good visibility means parking is simple, too. The gearshift is light and slick, and the suspension combines control and comfort very well. Rougher surfaces result in the odd knock from the suspension, but the Clio is better than most of its rivals at smoothing over bumps in the road.
The non-turbocharged 1.2-litre and larger 1.6-litre petrol engines don’t feel particularly brisk, so the turbocharged 1.2-litre TCe is the best compromise for smooth, easy performance and near-50mpg economy.
Interior & comfort
The Clio compares well next to rivals when it comes to comfort - thanks to its spacious cabin, supple suspension and supportive seats. However, luxury is in short supply. The steering wheel only adjusts for height on cheaper versions, reach adjustment only offered with the more expensive trim levels.
Air-conditioning is only offered on more expensive trims, too, so be careful to check the specification levels.
Practicality & boot space
As it’s one of the largest superminis in the class, the Renault Clio is a usefully practical choice. The boot is deep and a good size, but a high load lip does make getting heavier items in and out tricky.
The rear seats fold to create more space, but they don’t fold entirely flat, while entry-level Extreme models do without the split and folding backrest.
Reliability & safety
In the past, there have been problems with the Renault Clio, but reliability has improved and the Clio’s top 40 position in the Driver Power top 100 for reliability demonstrates this. The Clio doesn’t score too well for build quality though, coming 74th out of 100. The interior feels a bit flimsy and is prone to squeaks and rattles.
Price, value for money & options
The Clio offers a bewildering choice of engines, and there are plenty of trim levels on offer, too, creating lots of confusion. See our list for the highlight models. It is competitive against its Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 207 rivals though. Be sure to look out for discounts - lots of independent outlets offer fantastic deals on Renault’s popular hatchback. Pzaz special editions, although missing air-conditioning, do offer great value for money.