Renault Clio (2012-2019) review
The Renault Clio is a stylish small hatchback that’ll prove easy to drive, but it’s starting to feel long in the tooth, with better-to-drive, more spacious alternatives now available.
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The Renault Clio is a small five-door hatchback, although its sneaky rear doors are designed to fool you into thinking its a three-door instead. It was originally launched in 2012, but was updated in 2016. A new Clio is due in 2019, which will take interior quality to new levels.
In the current car, quality is a little hit and miss. The Plastics are, for the most part, black – and so’s the upholstery. The centre console gets shiny black plastics but Renault has resisted the temptation to add a splash of colour. All Clio cars get sat-nav as standard, operated via a 7-inch colour screen. It’s not great though, with fuzzy graphics and processing speeds that fall on the wrong side of slow.
The interior dimensions didn’t change, with the 2016 update, so if space is important to you, alternatives such as the Seat Ibiza are more spacious for those inside. Adults will be fine in the front, but there are more comfortable small cars for adults in the back on a long journey.
Unfortunately, the Clio’s boot is the same – it’s not bad, but newer alternatives have come along with more luggage space with cleverer touches inside. Still, at least every Renault Clio has rear seats that split 60:40, so you can carry larger items in the boot and still have room for one or two people. The Clio’s glovebox and door bins aren’t the biggest, though.
The Clio looks good and drives pretty well, but newer models have pushed it down the small car pecking order.
To drive, the Renault Clio is better than most small hatchbacks. Its quick steering makes it feel agile through corners, bringing plenty of confidence, although you’ll still have more fun thrashing a Ford Fiesta along a country road. The Clio is a decent motorway car, too, proving nice and quiet, but it’s best in town where its light steering and good visibility help you out.
Also on hand to help in town are the Clio’s zippy petrol engines. The pokier 90hp 0.9-litre model, in particular, is perfect if you never leave town – it’s quick enough to make darting in and out of traffic a breeze and it won’t demand too much fuel in return. However, if you spend more of your time driving on the motorway, then consider the diesel car – it’ll save you money in the long run.
The Renault Clio comes with an advanced stability control system and lots of airbags, but – misses out on modern technology such as automatic emergency braking. It was awarded a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2012, but the test has now moved on and become more stringent so newer alternatives are even safer.
The Renault Clio looks after its driver and front-seat passenger very well, but more modern alternatives make the rear-seat accommodation look pretty tight – and the boot’s no more than reasonable
You have to feel a bit sorry for the Clio. When it came out, it was one of the very best, but since then, better alternatives have come along, making it look dated
The Renault Clio’s front seats have plenty of room, even if you’re tall. All models come with a height adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that moves for height and reach, so you’ll be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. Dynamique S Nav models and above get a front centre armrest, while Signature Nav models and upwards have a height-adjustable passenger seat.
It’s a shame height-adjustable rear seats don’t exist, because the Renault Clio could really do with them. Anyone over six foot will want for more headroom and the raised seat means the top of the windscreen is directly in their eyeline. Legroom is average, so tall adults will need to count on the generous people up front moving their seats forward a little, and the back seat also feels very tight for shoulder room with three people aboard. A SEAT Ibiza is a much better bet for rear-seat passengers.
The Renault Clio’s standard-fit rear doors help a lot when you’re fitting a child seat in the back seats, although larger group-one seats need to squeezed through the small door openings. Getting a standard seat in isn’t a major issue, though, and the clearly marked Isofix points help a lot with getting the seat’s base safely secured.
The Renault Clio’s interior storage is much like the space it offers for passengers – okay, but other small cars do it better. Its door bins aren’t as big as the ones you’ll get in, say, a Skoda Fabia. The glovebox is also quite small – space is taken up by the car’s fusebox – although the Renault Clio does have a 1.2-litre ledge in the dashboard that’s useful for storing bits and pieces that you don’t mind putting on show to would-be thieves. In between the two front seats you get a couple of cupholders and a tray for your phone complete with a USB plug and a 12V power socket.
The Renault Clio’s 300-litre boot (1,146 litres with the rear seats folded) used to be one of the biggest among small cars but newer models such as the SEAT Ibiza (355 litres) and Skoda Fabia (330 litres) have rendered it average.
It’s also low on features. In fact, you only get a couple of tie down hooks for your luggage – hooks for your shopping aren’t fitted. Another big omission is an adjustable boot floor – without one, loading is hampered by the high load lip. With the back seats up, the Renault Clio can carry a couple of suitcases and has more than enough room for a young family’s weekly shop. But if you often carry more than that then consider the Renault Captur – it has a much bigger boot.
The rear seats split 60:40, so you can push longer items through into the passenger compartment and still carry two people on the back seat. However, the floor is uneven, which makes loading big stuff – like a bike – awkward although you can get one in with only one wheel detached.
The Renault Clio is one of the more enjoyable small cars to drive, and its turbocharged TCe petrol engines are nippy and frugal – but it can feel a bit bumpy on rough roads
The turbo petrol is a peach in town while the diesel has the oomph to deal with the motorway
The Renault Clio equipped with the 0.9-litre TCe petrol models are perfect for town driving – it has instant acceleration at city speeds and doesn’t feel out its depth on the motorway. It’ll return official fuel economy of 60.1mpg.
For the best fuel economy, of course, you want a diesel. The dCi 90hp model returns galactic fuel economy of 91.1mpg, but make sure you’re going to drive enough miles to offset the fact that it costs more than an equivalent petrol.
The Renault Clio is a car that will always feel at its best in the city, no matter which engine you choose.
The Renault’s light controls mean it’s easy to drive a low speeds and its tight turning circle gives great manoeuvrability. There is a fairly big blind spot to contend with around the rear windscreen, but that’s a problem on most modern small cars, and mid-range Clios come with rear parking sensors that make it less of an issue. The most annoying thing is the car’s suspension, which can jiggle you around a bit and never truly seems to settle. A Ford Fiesta does a much better job of absorbing bumps.
The Renault Clio can still hold its own on a country road, though – only the Fiesta is more enjoyable to drive. The Renault Clio’s pointy steering gives you the confidence to turn into corners without having to make any last minute adjustments and there’s not much body lean to worry about, although the Renault Clio’s tall body does accentuate what lean there is. The Fiesta edges in front, though, because it has the Renault’s positives and adds suspension that’s much more settled on bumpy country roads.
The 90hp diesel Clios are available with an automatic gearbox but it dents acceleration in town and adds quite a bit to the asking price. Needless to say, you should only choose it if your licence dictates it. Auto or not, on the motorway the Renault Clio starts to feel out of its comfort zone.
Safety also looks pretty strong thanks to a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. However a lack of automatic emergency braking, and the fact the Renault Clio was evaluated back in 2012 means that newer rivals such as the SEAT Ibiza are even safer.
The Renault Clio interior is good to look at and quite stylish, but newer models have simpler designs, bigger screens and better infotainment systems