£11,815 - £18,665 Price range
50 - 88 MPG
Pretty looks have always been core to the Clio’s appeal and they remain a draw even now. Despite their appearance, all Clios have five doors for excellent access to the back seats, and a boot that’s average for the class in terms of size. For 2016 plastic quality has improved noticeably.
There’s a strong engine range, with four petrols and three diesels to choose from. A small capacity petrol is the best bet if you have a low annual mileage – the Clio’s 0.9-litre model claims to offer the performance of a 1.4 yet can return fuel economy of more than 60mpg. The most economical diesel raises that to 85mpg.
UK buyers tend to go for high-specification Clios, but even so the basic model is well equipped with electric windows, central locking, electric heated and adjustable door mirrors, and a Bluetooth phone connection. Our only complaint is the lack of air-conditioning.
Renault tells us that the new Clio’s dashboard has been modelled on an airplane wing – something you may have to squint to see! What we can confirm is that it feels like a higher-quality product than the pre-facelift car with soft-touch, textured plastics and matte chrome highlights. The quality of the seat fabrics has also been improved and all models get plenty of interior storage including large door bins, a four-litre glovebox, two cupholders plus a place to store your wallet and phone.
Basic models come with Renault’s R&GO infotainment screen system with a phone cradle that allows you to integrate your smartphone with the car’s stereo for sat-nav and music streaming. Dynamique Nav models and above replace this with a seven-inch sat-nav display, which has sharp and colourful graphics, but also gives confused directions and is keen to handout overbearing warnings of approaching speed cameras.
Renault Clio passenger space
It doesn’t matter how tall (or small) you are, getting a comfortable driving position shouldn’t be an issue. All models come with a steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach, a height adjustable seat, and electric wing mirrors that are easy to adjust. Tall adults will always find that a car this size is tight in the back, but getting in is made a lot easier by the standard rear doors. Sadly the Clio’s sloping roofline means headroom will be in short supply if you’re tall, and the it can’t offer the rear passenger room of the Skoda Fabia.
Renault Clio boot space
The Clio’s 300-litre boot is bigger than a Ford Fiesta’s and with rear seats folded away space rises to 1,146 litres – big enough to swallow an adult’s bicycle. The rear hatch rises to reveal a large boot opening, but there’s a lip that heavy items will need to be lifted over and a step in the floor when the rear seats are folded – both could be resolved by an adjustable boot floor.
Things have come along way since the original Clio went on sale in 1990 and the new model is well suited to a variety of roles.
The biggest improvements have been made in interior refinement – at a cruise there’s very little wind, engine and road noise, making the Clio a perfectly acceptable way to cover long distances.
It’s even fun to drive, with steering that is precise and quicker than in the old model in bends, but also heavy enough to stop the car feeling nervous on the motorway.
The ride is comfortable, but doesn’t come at the expense of huge levels of body lean in corners and the Clio can bring a smile to your face on a twisting country road.
For the first time the top-of-the-range petrol model can be fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox but, unless you need it, we would stick to the five-speed manual, which allows slick and precise changes.
For the first time the Clio can be had with the company’s dCi 110 diesel engine, which costs little to run, while offering a decent amount of performance for overtaking. In total there are three petrol and two diesel engines to choose from.
Renault Clio petrol engines
The entry-level 1.2-litre 75 petrol engine is pretty basic and only comes fitted to Expression models – the cheapest in the range. Despite being down on power, it has the highest running costs of any Clio, although fuel economy of 50.4mpg should still be affordable even on a tight budget.
A high-tech alternative is the 0.9-litre TCe 90. Renault’s first three-cylinder engine is fitted with a turbocharger and it feels a lot nippier than the basic car, yet is cheaper to run with road tax costing just £20 a year and fuel economy of close to 70mpg possible. Play and Dynamic Nav models can be specified in Eco trim, which revises the car’s engine and gearing, adds low-rolling resistance tyres on smaller wheels, and swaps the metal tailgate for a plastic one to save weight – all of which help boost fuel economy and cut CO2 emissions
For motorway trips the 120 TCe is even better. It can get from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds, but fuel economy drops to just over 50mpg.
Renault Clio diesel engines
Whether you go for the 90 or 110 dCi model runnings cost remain the same, so fuel economy of 80.7mpg is possible and road tax is free. Specify the ECO upgrades and fuel economy jumps to 88.3mpg and CO2 emissions drop by more than 10g/km.
Naturally, economy is impressive too. Officially, it’ll achieve 83.1 mpg, though one tester says a real-world 60 mpg is more likely - about the norm for small diesels with claimed economy in the 80s.
The low 90 g/km CO2 figure that results will net you free road tax and currently, congestion charge exemption in London. Performance is marginally better than the petrol, with 62 mph arriving in 11.9 seconds.
The diesel is more expensive than the petrol though, so most owners might be better off with the TCe, especially if you don't do many miles each year.
There’s only been one review of the car so far, and while the economy goes down well, the engine’s characteristics aren’t as popular. The “lack of refinement is a problem” says the tester, describing how the engine is “rattly under acceleration” and requires a “fair amount of noisy revs to get it off the mark”.
That seems unusual, given the refinement praised in regular 1.5 dCi engines, but does show that some compromise is occasionally needed in these ultra-mpg specials.
It’s not all good though - while economy is on the parsimonious side of 60 mpg, performance isn’t as strong as you may hope - “you’ll be shifting cogs more so than in large capacity units”, says one reviewer. Another notes that the “acceleration is sluggish”, though the engine does have decent low-speed torque. Working the slick gearbox won’t be too much of a chore, either, and it’s cheaper to buy than the diesel models.
Renault offers the Clio in four trim levels – Expression, Play, Dynamique Nav and Dynamique S Nav. Even basic Expression trim comes with equipment such as electric windows, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat, but you’ll need to upgrade to Play trim for air-conditioning.
In 2016 the Clio’s options list was bolstered to include ‘big car’ features such as a fixed full-length glass sunroof, rear parking camera, auto park, and a powerful Bose stereo. Buyers can also choose from three new paint shades – Mars Red, Arctic White and Iron Blue.
In the UK 55 per cent of buyers go for Dynamique Nav models, which come with a raft of additional equipment. Sat-nav’s standard and is displayed via a seven-inch touchscreen, which also features DAB digital radio and a Bluetooth phone connection. Keyless entry means you don’t have to fumble through your pockets to get in, and the car’s driving lights and wipers come on automatically. Inside you get a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shiny black plastic trim pieces, while 16-inch alloy wheels and chrome highlights smarten up the exterior.
Dynamique S Nav
The next most popular trim level is top-of-the-range Dynamique S Nav. It comes with luxurious features such as climate control, more comfortable seats with fake leather inserts, four electric windows and rear parking sensors. Full LED headlights are a first in the Clio and their white light makes it easier to make out the road at night.
With the all-new Renault Clio not due for a while yet, the facelift couldn’t have come at a better time. The changes may be relatively minor, but the revised looks and new paint colours keep the Clio fresh, while the addition of the new diesel engine will broaden the car’s appeal until an all-new model is revealed in the coming years.