Renault Clio review: handsome small car with fuel-sipping hybrid tech
The Renault Clio is a star of the supermini class – stylish, well-built, good to drive and packed with tech
The Renault Clio refuses to relinquish its position as one of the best superminis on the market. A high-quality and well-equipped item despite its competitive pricing, the Clio feels as refined as much larger hatchbacks and handles well, too. The facelifted French supermini also has a new, much more striking look that’s transformed the already handsome Clio into a serious head-turner.
The interior admittedly lacks the wow-factor you get from Renault’s newer models and their Google tech, but the Clio’s cabin still feels polished and prioritises ergonomics over design, which is no bad thing. The full-hybrid Clio E-Tech offers impressive fuel economy and zippy EV-like performance around town, however a pure-petrol version remains available, with an attractive starting price and class-leading boot space. Either way, if you're after a capable supermini, the Renault Clio deserves your full attention.
About the Renault Clio
The Renault Clio is one of the most recognisable names in the automotive world – at least in Europe anyway. It’s one synonymous with small, reasonably priced superminis that are great to drive and offer lots of big-car appeal. More than 16 million Clios have been sold since the first one arrived in 1990, with the current, fifth-generation model continuing its legacy and managing to win our Supermini of the Year award in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
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Used car tests
The latest Clio was launched back in 2019, when it was pitched squarely against the ever-popular Ford Fiesta. Of course, since then the Blue Oval’s beloved supermini has kicked the bucket, while its French nemesis was given a new lease of life thanks to a dramatic facelift.
The Clio’s striking new look borrows heavily from Renault’s mid-size SUV, the Austral, as well as its all-electric Megane E-Tech hatchback. The visual changes include the ‘F1 Blade’ in the front bumper and vertical daytime-running lights. Renault’s redesigned logo also sits proudly in the heart of the grille, while the rear has been given a new set of tail-lights, plus aerodynamics elements in the bumper to emphasise the car’s width.
Like before, there are two engine options available: the entry-level pure-petrol TCe 90 pairs a 89bhp three-cylinder motor with a six-speed manual gearbox – the same combo offered in the Clio’s distant cousin, the Dacia Sandero. Alternatively, the full-hybrid Clio E-Tech features a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors powered by a 1.2kWh battery. This not only offers improved fuel economy, but also to run in EV mode for short distances or up to 80 per cent of the time when driving in town, according to Renault.
The Clio’s trim structure also got tweaked as part of the mid-life facelift, so it now includes Evolution and Techno specifications – the same as before – but Esprit Alpine trim level now sits above them and replaces the old R.S. Line and E-Tech Engineered options.
Prices start from £17,795 for the petrol Clio, or £21,295 for the Clio E-Tech. All Clios come as standard with alloy wheels, LED headlights, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two seven-inch displays, plus a suite of active safety systems including lane-keep assist and lane departure warning. Work your way up through the price list and you’re rewarded with larger wheels, a rear-view camera, a 9.3-inch central touchscreen and a 10-inch digital driver’s display.
The Clio is one of the best supermini options around, and clearly one of our favourites based on its collection of silverware – both impressive feats when you consider the plethora of talented rivals. The Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris both utilise efficient hybrid technology, just like the Clio, while the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa go a few steps beyond by offering all-electric power in the form of the E-208 and Corsa Electric.
We’d say the Peugeot is almost as much fun to drive and perhaps has the edge for desirability over the Renault, but it can’t quite match the Clio for practicality. Elsewhere, the Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo feel well finished and refined, and the five-door MINI Hatch combines retro looks with a sophisticated cabin.
Used and nearly new
Renault has been selling the Clio in the UK since 1991, shifting well over a million in that time, so there is little reason for the French marque to stop now. The Clio had quite the shadow to step out from – the Renault 5 that went before it was immensely popular and had been on sale for more than 20 years, almost reaching 5.5 million sales globally when the Clio arrived.
The Clio, however, has eclipsed this figure, with global sales flying past 16 million cars worldwide. Arguably, the Clio’s success story began at its public unveiling at the 1990 Paris Motor Show, where the small hatchback caught the public's eye.
Renault Clio Mk4: 2012-2019
The Mk4 Clio might not have quite the charm and playfulness of its predecessors, but it’s stronger, safer, better built and more practical. It’s also loaded with more equipment, which means it’s a great alternative to the current model – one of our favourite superminis. It arrived in UK showrooms in February 2013 in five-door form only. Read our full Mk4 Renault Clio buyer’s guide here…
Renault Clio Mk3: 2005-2012
The Mk3 Clio oozed sophistication and flair. Back then, you could still buy a Clio with three or five doors, while practicality was assured thanks to a load capacity beaten only by that of the Honda Jazz. Avoid the smaller engines, which are unable to cope with the car’s weight, but enjoy the long-legged comfort and strong five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Read our full Mk3 Renault Clio review here…
Renault Clio Mk2: 1998-2005
The second-generation Clio landed in 1998 at a time when the original Clio had secured its place as a top 10 seller in the UK. Gone was the boxy shape and conventional lines, replaced by a more bulbous and rounded body. It was an immediate success, with the stronger, more sophisticated silhouette winning the hearts of buyers all over Europe. Advanced materials were used throughout to minimise potential weight penalties, while Improvements were made in safety, too, with ABS available on selected versions and up to four airbags on top-spec cars.
For an alternative review of the Renault Clio, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Renault Clio is a star of the supermini class – stylish, well-built, good to drive and packed with tech
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Renault Clio is good fun to drive and rides well, but not especially quick
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Clio can be had with either a simple petrol engine or Renault’s full-hybrid E-Tech powertrain
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Renault Clio’s interior is simple and logical, and a mid-life facelift has made it the sharpest-looking supermini on the market
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Renault Clio offers plenty of space inside, plus the pure-petrol version boasts more boot space than a VW Golf
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe latest Clio is one of the safest superminis on sale, but Renault’s performance in the latest Driver Power survey is less impressive