It’s a simple formula – yet it adds up to one of the best Clios in the range. More aerodynamic bodywork and taller gearing make the Expression Eco very cheap to run, but this doesn’t affect the way it drives. Add a quality cabin with a surprising amount of space, as well as a comfortable ride, and Renault’s tax-free diesel Clio gets the thumbs-up. About the only things missing are sharper steering and stop-start.
It's the cheapest road tax-exempt supermini money can buy – and Auto Express has driven it. The Renault Clio
Expression Eco may not win any prizes for desirable badging, but it more than makes up for that with its low running costs. It’s based on the standard 88bhp 1.5-litre diesel dCi, and is designed to make the Clio even more frugal.
The Expression Eco Pack brings taller gearing for the five-speed manual gearbox, slippery 15-inch Aero wheel trims with low-rolling-resistance tyres, plus a front splitter and a roof spoiler. All this adds only £250 to the price, taking it to £12,450.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Renault Clio
That turns out to be a bit of a bargain. While there is no stop-start system, Renault claims combined fuel economy of 78.4mpg, against 70.6mpg for the standard car. Plus, CO2
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emissions are slashed by 12g/km to 94g/km. Not only does this mean zero road tax, the Eco is also exempt from London’s £10-per-day Congestion Charge.
What’s more, Renault reckons owners will be able to cover an incredible 950 miles between fuel stops – meaning you could drive from the UK capital to Nice in France with diesel to spare.
As well as being economical, it’s attractive and good to drive. Those wheel trims look smart in the flesh, and the aero tweaks are small but handsome additions, while the longer gearing doesn’t affect the Clio’s perky diesel engine.
The 200Nm torque output means there’s plenty of grunt in town – the car feels much faster than the 11-second 0-62mph time suggests – and it also copes well with motorways, as the gearing helps it cruise in quiet comfort.
It’s fun, too. Throw the supermini into a corner and you can see why the range-topping Renaultsport version has such a solid foundation. The chassis is agile and well balanced, while the eco-minded tyres offer decent grip. Our only gripe is the steering, which could do with a touch more feel – but only a Ford Fiesta is better in this class.
Where the Renault trumps the Ford is on price. Even if you add options such as air-con (£575) and metallic paint (£435), the Clio would cost only £13,460 – a similarly equipped Fiesta Econetic would be another £905.