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First Drive

First Drive: Renault Clio

Renault Clio 100hp Iconic
The story: The new Renault Clio is pretty evolutionary on the outside, but there’s plenty to be interested in as Renault seeks to improve the interior quality, practicality and driving experience.
Key rival:Ford Fiesta
Efficiency:54.3 mpg
On sale:Now

Renault’s new Clio is being pitched as an evolution on the outside and revolution on the inside, with more technology, quality and space all on offer.

The Iconic trim level with the 100hp petrol engine driven here is the one Renault expects to be the biggest seller, offering sub-100g/km emission that its rivals can’t match. The Ford Focus and Seat Ibiza with similar power figures can get to 106 and 104g/km respectively, so the Clio is off to a good start.

The good news continues when you go to the other end and find a 391-litre boot that’s up by 61 litres in a car that’s actually a touch shorter than its predecessor, and is larger than anything its key rivals can offer.

On paper, the 100hp engine in this middling Iconic trim level impresses, faring well in residual value and whole-life cost terms, although service, maintenance and repair costs look high.

First Drive- December 2019- Renault Clio- Image 7Renault claims to have taken steps to improve cabin quality, and even though there are still some cheaper bits, it’s certainly a step forward.

The classy feel is lifted further in the higher S Edition and RS Line trims that get a larger horizontal 9.3-inch screen rather than the squarer 7.0-inch unit in the Iconic versions.

Still, the lesser trim level does at least get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, along with keyless entry and rear parking sensors.

Outside, the LED headlights with a C-style signature line are a big giveaway in an otherwise evolutionary look.

The Clio’s driving experience is distinctly neutral; it doesn’t feel as sharp as some rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, but rides well enough, and the 100hp petrol engine needs a little work but is well within acceptable levels given its excellent 99g/km figure.

paul barker

The verdict

Improvements over the last Clio aren’t obvious when you look at the car’s styling, but the interior, practicality and whole-life cost are all well ahead of where the previous Renault supermini was.