Renault Clio Dynamique S

French model continues to offer class and comfort in this market

By the time the first Fiesta hit UK roads in 1976, Renault’s supermini was already well established. The 5 went on sale in 1972, and the brands have been long-standing rivals ever since – it’s a battle that continues in spirit to this day!

Sixteen years later, the third-generation Clio faces up to the all-new Fiesta. In our view, there’s no doubt the Renault’s styling has stood the test of time well. The current car arrived in 2005, but its large headlamps, shapely nose and neatly proportioned dimensions mean it’s not disgraced by the Fiesta in the style stakes.

It’s bigger than its new rival, too. The Clio’s wheelbase is 86mm longer, while its overall length is 36mm more. Add a high roofline, and the five-door Clio offers plenty of leg and headroom. Lift the tailgate, and the 288-litre boot is seven litres smaller than the Ford’s, but the Fiesta doesn’t have a full-size spare – its luggage area drops to 281 litres if you opt for a fifth wheel. And while both come with split-folding back seats, only the Renault gets three rear headrests as standard.

Up front, all models from Dynamique trim up feature a classy, well designed, soft-touch dashboard. This Dynamique S has reach and rake adjustment on the steering wheel. However, we found it easier to get comfortable in the Fiesta. The Clio’s switchgear doesn’t feel as substantial as the Ford’s, either.

On the move, the Fiesta gains even more ground. The Clio’s electric steering is artificial, while the gear linkage and pedals don’t have the solid feel of the Ford’s. The Renault still turns in sharply and the chassis remains reassuringly composed in corners – it just doesn’t come as alive as the Ford. The French hatch is impressively refined, with the suspension doing a fine job of absorbing bumps and ruts. Body control is good, too.

At motorway speeds, the Clio is composed and quiet. The 1.5-litre dCi is a good performer, sprinting from 0-60mph in 11.4 seconds – nearly a second quicker than the Ford. The third and fourth gear acceleration times show just how closely the two cars are matched – both take 10.1 seconds from 50-70mph.

Surprisingly, given the Fiesta’s superb dynamic abilities, the Clio performed better in our brake tests. Add a decent equipment list to the mix, and it’s clear the long-running supermini battle between Renault and Ford is alive and well.

Details

Price: £13,650Model tested: Renault Clio Dynamique SWHY: It’s the oldest model here, but diesel Renault is a well proven supermini choice

Economy

The Clio slots into road tax group B, just like the Fiesta. As a result, it has an annual bill of £35 – far less than the 89bhp Corsa CDTI. The low running costs don’t end there, as the Renault is cheapest to insure, at £208. Economy is decent, and the Clio is the only car to come with three years’ breakdown cover – the Ford and Vauxhall get just a single year.

Environment

Clio puts out 7g/km more CO2 than the Fiesta. But 1.5 dCi meets Renault’s eco2 criteria. This means that it’s made at a factory which is certified to the latest green standards and is 95 per cent recyclable.

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