In-depth reviews

Renault Clio review

The Renault Clio is a star of the supermini class – well-built, good to drive and packed with tech

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£16,520 to £20,580
  • Impressive interior quality
  • Lots of equipment
  • Great to drive
  • Some rivals are more fun
  • Needs a stronger petrol engine
  • Rear space a little tight

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.

About the Renault Clio

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, with 7-inch or 9.3-inch central touchscreens, feels lightyears ahead of the slow, clunky and confusing system used on the old model.

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.

Renault has realigned the Clio trim-level lineup to now include Evolution and Techno specifications, which sit below the top-of-the-range R.S. Line, while the Lutecia Limited Edition is also available. Prices start at around £19,000 and edge past £25,000 at the top of the range.

Renault now offers a single 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine for the Clio, badged TCe 90. It produces 89bhp and comes solely with a six-speed manual transmission.

The Clio E-Tech Hybrid 140 is offered with a full hybrid powertrain, consisting of a auto gearbox, 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, for a total output of 138bhp. If full electric power is on your shopping list, however, the Renault ZOE is the French firm’s rival for cars like the Peugeot e-208.

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.

Used and nearly new

Renault has been selling the Clio in the UK since 1991, and with total sales exceeding 1.2 million, 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 13 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 history

Renault Clio

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…

Mk2 Clio

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...

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