First Drive

First Drive: Renault Clio

The story:
The Clio name has been in existence since 1990. The latest model is the fifth generation car and sits on an all-new platform that’s ready for hybrid tech but also means the new Clio is now smaller on the outside and bigger on the inside than before.
Category:Supermini
Key rival:Ford Fiesta
Renault Clio TCe100 Iconic 5dr manual
Price:£17,000*
MPG:64.2mpg
Emissions:100g/km
On sale:August 2019 (deliveries October/November)

 

Sales volumes may not tell the whole story, but the Clio accounts for around one in three of all Renaults sold. That makes it the brand’s second most important car, just behind the Captur, and as such the latest version must take the fight to the competition.

On paper it certainly does.

Sitting on a new platform for Renault, the latest Clio is fractionally shorter and lower than the outgoing model. However, clever engineering means that the interior space for passengers and luggage is better than ever. In fact, Renault claims the 391-litre boot in the petrol versions is the largest in class. Even the diesels, which have a slightly smaller boot due to the ad-blue system, sit at 366 litres, which is bigger than a few cars in the class above. There’s also improved rear legroom that means the car can easily take taller adults.

 

The new Clio’s trim levels are also revised, with RS Line taking the place of the previous top-spec GT Line cars. The UK will retain Play and Iconic as the lower and mid-level range respectively.First Drive-July 2019-Renault Clio-image 5

The engine line-up will start with three petrols and a diesel in a sector where many rivals are dropping the diesel option. Renault claims there’s enough loyalty to the brand from fleets that the diesel option (an 85hp 1.5 with a CO2 output of 95g/km) has been retained, even though it doesn’t qualify for the RDE2 emissions standard that would allow it to escape the 4% diesel benefit-in-kind penalty.

The petrol range consists of a 1.0-litre with either 75hp or 100hp, and a 1.3-litre unit that develops 130hp.

The 100hp, which is likely to be the biggest seller, has a CO2 figure of 100g/km, making it a better tax bet than the diesel and with a combined fuel figure of 64.2mpg it’s seriously efficient, too.First Drive-July 2019-Renault Clio-image 8

The cabin is a big step on from that of the outgoing Clio and even jumps ahead of many rivals thanks to clever use of higher-grade materials in key positions such as on the door tops, steering wheel and the main dashboard.

On the move, the Clio has been set up to be fun without being hard riding. The steering is particularly direct and the suspension is overly firm. This means that you can easily tell how the car’s going to behave on twistier roads, yet there’s still a good level of comfort if you’re just getting from A to B.

However, detracting from the way the car drives is road noise, which can resonate in the cabin on some surfaces, and a very long-geared five-speed manual gearbox that takes some getting used to.

However, the 100 and 130hp petrol engines are remarkably refined, and while not making the Clio a particularly fast car, they don’t bog down at lower revs.

The result is a new supermini that’s particularly well-rounded product and far more grow-up than any previous Clio.

 

Verdict: Renault has delivered an excellent package with the new Clio. The quality of the materials in the cabin are particularly good and aside from some road noise intrusion, the driving experience is close to the best in the supermini sector. Impressive CO2 figures mean the car should have first-rate appeal as a company car.

 

Tristan Young

The verdict

Renault has delivered an excellent package with the new Clio. The quality of the materials in the cabin are particularly good and aside from some road noise intrusion, the driving experience is close to the best in the supermini sector. Impressive CO2 figures mean the car should have first-rate appeal as a company car.