Renault Clio (2006-2012) review

The popular Renault Clio supermini offers comfort, space and practicality

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

£14,420 to £21,630
  • Spacious , comfortable interior, fun drive, cosseting ride
  • Poorly equipped base models, poor residuals

The Renault Clio aims to cater to every possible taste, so it's available in a huge variety of body styles, power outputs and specifications. This ranges from basic three-door versions that offer good value to the fully-loaded Sport Tourer estate model and Renaultsport performance editions. It majors on passenger space and comfort, and while it might not be quite as sharp to drive as the Ford Fiesta, it's far more engaging than some of its rivals, including the new Toyota Yaris. Of the many engines offered, the frugal diesels and free-revving 2.0-litre petrol are the standout performers.

Our choice: Dynamique TomTom 1.2 TCe 5dr 

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Renault Clio


Engines, performance and drive

The Clio does all the basics well, with light accurate steering and a slick gear change, as well as superb all round visibility that makes it very easy to drive. The ride is better judged than most rivals too, offering a decent amount of body control without compromising comfort. The naturally aspirated 1.2 and 1.6-litre petrol engines take a long time to get going though, so opt for either the turbocharged 1.2-litre TCe unit or the excellent and surprisingly punchy 1.5-litre DCi diesel for the best blend of performance and economy. Keen drivers will be hard pushed to find fault with the sweet 2.0-litre Renaultsport Clio, which with the Cup chassis is a true driver's car.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

With the exception of the 200bhp Renaultsport version, all of the engines are impressively frugal. The most efficient option is the 1.5-litre diesel, in Eco2 guise, which returns 78.4mpg and emits just 94g/km of C02 while managing the same performance figures as the standard diesel. Our pick of the range is the lively 1.2 TCe petrol version, which returns over 50mpg and emits a relatively low 125g/km. The Clio's excellent safety record should keep insurance costs down, but it won't hold its value as well as the equivalent Skoda Fabia or SEAT Ibiza.

Interior, design and technology

There is no denying the Clio's design is conservative, especially compared with rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Alfa Romeo MiTo. It has aged well though, and all models aside from the frugal Eco2, get alloy wheels as standard. The interior is spacious, well laid out and easy to use, and specify the Dynamique TomTom or GT Line TomTom trim and you get sat-nav as standard. However there's still a big gulf between the quality and feel of the materials used on entry-level versions and more expensive models.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

The Clio's 288-litre boot is good for its class, beating both the Mazda 2 and Peugeot 207 for luggage space. The glovebox is enormous too, as are the door bins in the front which make it easy to store bottles and parcels on longer journeys. All cars now get split folding seats and air conditioning, while all but the base model get automatic lights and wipers. Overall, the Clio offers decent luggage space, and there's easily enough room to seat four adults in comfort.

Reliability and Safety

Renault is a brand that has built its reputation for safety, and the Clio is among its best. It scored five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests and was awarded four for child protection, but just one for pedestrian safety. All cars get ABS and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) as well as a whole host of airbags. Much like its rivals, the SEAT Ibiza and VW Polo, the Clio finds itself towards the bottom of the 2012 Driver Power survey - it finished in a disappointing 89th place. Common complaints include an uncomfortable cabin and lack of technology, the latter of which Renault has attempted to fix by improving standard kit. However, with a new model on the way, the French maker will hope for a better score in 2013.

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