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First Drive

First Drive: Renault Clio hybrid

The story: Renault’s first ‘self-charging’ hybrid has arrived, with the new Clio being the car that is first with the new technology, getting it under 100g/km.
Key rival:Toyota Yaris
Efficiency:64.2 mpg
On sale:October 2020

There’s a pair of new plug-in hybrids joining the Renault range later this year, so it would be easy to overlook this Clio hybrid, but that would be an error because this is Renault’s first battery-electric hybrid.

It’s a ‘self-charging’ hybrid, for want of a better way of differentiating, so the hybrid system can power the car with the engine off. It’s a different approach from the ‘mild’ 48V systems coming in across the industry that are a back-up offering small efficiency gains.First Drive-September 2020-Renault Clio Hybrid-Image 1

The Clio can, according to Renault, run for up to around two-and-a-half miles at less than 28mph on the battery alone, replenishing it via the engine and the energy recovered under deceleration, something it seems to do impressively quickly. The 140hp combination of 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, powered by a 1.2kWh battery, make for a brisk acceleration from a standstill in particular. The system switches well between battery and electric power, too, with only the occasional stutter.

A CO2 emissions figure of 98g/km makes a decent story for company car users, although the Clio hybrid’s higher starting price – it costs £3650 more than the regular manual 100hp petrol – means the two cars have monthly BiK costs within a couple of pounds. However, the hybrid’s 64.2mpg fuel economy does give it a 10mpg lead over the regular car, and is better than the other new hybrid supermini, Toyota’s new Yaris (see p39); the Yaris has an official economy figure of 54.3mpg, although its CO2 of 92g/km beats the Clio’s.

Boot space is impacted by the battery packaging taking it down by 90 litres to 301, although it’s still a deep and usable space for a supermini, and there’s no impact on the rear seats.

The new Clio, which was launched late last year, took a big step forward in terms of interior quality and design, although the infotainment isn’t always the most user-friendly, requiring too much switching between screens to change driving modes.

paul barker

The verdict

A good low-emission, although not cheap, option for fleets not ready or able to move to plug-ins, the Clio is a well-packaged and efficient.