Renault Clio 1.5 dCi Dynamique

Stylish French offering delivers sharp handling and a big slice of style

As the French firm’s biggest selling model, Renault has ensured there’s plenty of choice for British Clio buyers. There are six trims and 10 engines to choose from for the five-door alone. The car in our pictures is a top-spec Privilège version, but it’s the Dynamique model we compare here. We couldn’t get hold of the 86bhp version which is closest to its rivals on power and price, so we drove the 106bhp version with a six-speed gearbox.

Regardless of the engine fitted, the Clio scores well in the style stakes. With colour-coded bumpers and mirrors, and satin silver door handles, it’s a smart looking supermini. But its abilities stretch well beyond its appearance.

Interior space is on a par with the Corsa, and a wide range of movement on the steering wheel and seat mean it’s easy to get comfortable. However, there isn’t as much knee room as in the Fabia or Corsa, so taller drivers will find that their legs rub the dashboard. Renault charges £275 for reach adjustment, and strangely includes the hands-free keycard entry system with it. While general build quality is solid, some of the trim doesn’t feel as robust as the Corsa’s, but at least there are lots of nice touches in the cabin. Robust controls, good visibility and decent materials all mean the Renault is a pleasant place to spend time.

Refinement is also a strong point – the Clio recorded the lowest noise figures in each of our measurements, and the dCi engine has the smoothest character of our trio. Unsurprisingly, with 106bhp and 240Nm, it was quicker than its rivals here. But while direct performance comparisons are unfair, the diesel’s free-revving nature is shared by the 86bhp unit. On the motorway, the Clio is as good a long distance companion as either of its rivals, and the chassis copes well with twisty roads, too. The Clio glides over bumps and remains composed, matching the Fabia’s ride comfort, yet it’s more responsive through corners than the Corsa.

And while the steering feels artificial at speed and suffers from some kickback, the light controls make town driving relaxing. As you would expect from a Renault, safety kit is impressive. You get curtain airbags as standard, but stability control is £340 extra. The options list is extensive, and while the 106bhp Dynamique is £13,535, the 86bhp version costs £12,717 – although that’s still more than with either rival here.

Go for the lower spec Expression trim, and the price comes down to £11,892, but you lose the soft-touch dash, CD player and curtain airbags. So the Renault looks costly in this company, but does its all-round ability make it a price worth paying?

Details

Price: £13,330Model tested: Renault Clio 1.5 dCi DynamiqueChart position: 2WHY: The French contender is great to drive, roomy and brings a slice of chic to supermini ownership.

Economy

With the biggest engine out of the group you might expect the worst economy – but in fact the Clio won the fuel test, thanks to its long gearing. An average return of 46.6mpg gives the Clio a range of 562 miles.

Residuals

Not only is the Clio the most expensive car in this test, but it also has the worst pence-per-mile and residual figures. It costs 35ppm to run and is expected to be worth only 37.6 per cent of its original value after three years of service.

Servicing

The Clio comes with 12,000-mile intervals, which is still not brilliant for a modern diesel engine. And not only are garage visits more frequent than with the Corsa, the first three services will cost you £80 more than the Vauxhall’s, too.

Tax

Despite its higher power output than the other two, the Clio emits just 123g/km and it’s only the higher price that makes it more expensive as a company car. Standard-band cost comes in at £535 a year; nearly £100 more than the Fabia.

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