Renault Clio review
The Renault Clio is a star of the supermini class – well-built, good to drive and packed with tech
The latest Renault Clio is the best yet, sitting right at the top of its class alongside the ever-popular Ford Fiesta. The Clio is a high-quality item despite its competitive pricing and feels a near-perfect combination of practicality, standard equipment and stylish showroom appeal. We’d rather the petrol engine line-up was stronger but there’s little else to complain about – the Renault Clio is one of the cars to beat in the supermini class.
The Renault Clio is one of the most recognisable names in the automotive world, one synonymous with small, reasonably priced superminis that are great to drive and offer lots of big-car appeal. Over 15 million Clios have been sold since the first arrived in 1990 and the latest model – introduced nearly 30 years later in 2019 – hopes to continue this success.
The ever-popular Ford Fiesta is the car that the Clio is pitched against. The previous generation Clio didn’t quite stack up, but in its latest iteration the Renault has upped its game.
Exterior styling has received an evolutionary update, sticking close to the old car’s well-judged proportions but introducing an overall sharpness that has brought things bang up-to-date. Inside, the Clio now boasts a cabin that’s among the best in its class; overall quality is excellent, while the uprated infotainment feels lightyears ahead of the slow, clunky and confusing system used on the old model – there are 7-inch and 9.3-inch central touchscreens available, while a 10-inch digital dial set-up can also be specified.
Standard equipment also helps push the Renault to the top of its class: all Clios come as standard with LED headlights, auto-folding mirrors and cruise control with speed limiter, along with a suite of active safety systems including lane-keep assist and automatic emergency braking. Work your way up through the easy-to-understand trim range and larger wheels, parking sensors and an uprated stereo feature, along with those aforementioned infotainment upgrades. The Clio comes in four core trim levels: Play, Iconic, S Edition and top-spec RS Line, while there's also a E-TECH hybrid Launch Edition version. Prices start at almost £16,000 and climb to just over £22,000 at the top of the range.
Car group tests
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Renault offers five engines to choose from – three petrols, one diesel and a petrol-electric hybrid unit. The range starts with the SCe 75, a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit with 71bhp that’s only available with a five-speed gearbox. A more sophisticated, turbocharged version of this engine is offered in the TCe 100, producing 99bhp and offered with a five-speed manual or optional continuously variable transmission (CVT).
A four-cylinder petrol engine is offered in the form of the TCe GPF, a 1.3-litre unit that’s already been used in some much larger Renault cars including the Megane and Kadjar. It produces 128bhp and only comes in combination with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The single diesel offering is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 84bhp and lots (220Nm) of torque, badged Blue dCi 85.
The Clio E-Tech Hybrid 140 is offered with a full hybrid powertrain, consisting of an auto gearbox, 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, for a total output of 138bhp.
The Clio is is one of the best supermini options around – quite a feat when you consider the plethora of talented rivals. The Ford Fiesta runs the Clio closest as a complete package, while the Volkswagen Polo feels a little better in the quality stakes. The latest Peugeot 208 is almost as much fun to drive and perhaps has the edge for desirability, but it can’t quite match the Clio for practicality.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Renault Clio is a star of the supermini class – well-built, good to drive and packed with tech
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Renault Clio is good fun to drive and rides well, but some engines aren’t especially strong
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Clio’s engines aren’t the strongest, but running costs and emissions are still very competitive
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Renault Clio’s interior is class-leading, especially in higher trims; strong infotainment also impresses
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceIt’s not quite the most practical car in its class, but the Renault Clio still offers plenty of space
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Clio appears to be pretty reliable, and it’s one of the safest superminis on sale