The Clio’s interior is good to look at and quite stylish, but newer models have simpler designs, bigger screens and better infotainment systems
Hailing from chic France, it’s surprising to find the Clio’s interior is a relatively sombre affair. 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 in an attempt to make the Clio feel more premium.
It works up to a point, but you don’t need to be a detective to unearth some cheaper feeling plastics and the Clio doesn’t have the fresh, clean designs you’ll find in the Ford Fiesta and SEAT Ibiza – as a result the Clio’s controls are all a bit trickier to fathom and use on the move.
Clios have Dark Carbon upholstery with mesh inserts until you get to the mid-range Dynamique Nav models that add some, er, flamboyant grey piping to the edges of the seats. That leaves Signature Nav models with leather upholstery, which is actually a mixture of real and fake cowhide.
Sitting in the Clio’s dark interior is a bit like staring into a black hole – the £600 panoramic glass sunroof is a worthwhile option that lets in lots of light
Expression and Play models don’t really do infotainment – they get a basic stereo with an FM/AM/DAB tuner, two speakers, Bluetooth audio streaming for hands-free calls, USB and AUX sockets, plus a smartphone cradle. The latter makes it easier to use your phone’s sat-nav by fixing your phone to the dashboard, although mirroring technology would be a neater solution – shame you can’t have it in the Clio.
Dynamique Nav models are the first to get sat-nav as standard and it’s operated via a seven-inch colour screen. It’s not great though, with fuzzy graphics and processing speeds that fall on the wrong side of slow. By contrast, a SEAT Ibiza’s screen is an inch bigger, bursting with colours and slick to use.
An upgraded Bose sound system costs between £175 and £350 depending on which model you fit it to. It has six speakers, plus a subwoofer, so it has a fuller sound than the basic system and is worth paying for, but the 675W B&O stereo offered in the Ford Fiesta is in a totally different league.