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Road tests

New Renault Clio TCe 90 2022 review

The Renault Clio is our favourite supermini, but is that true of the newly revised entry-level version?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Verdict

The realigning of the range hasn’t dented the Renault Clio’s appeal; you don’t miss the small amount of power it’s lost given how the car is set-up, while the French supermini is just as practical and efficient as before. It means the Clio is one of the more pragmatic choices in this sector, but it still represents great value for money, and adds refinement, comfort and strong technology to its positives. 

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Since its launch in 2019, when the Mk5 Renault Clio went straight to the top of its class, Renault has streamlined the range. It has added a hybrid and dropped the diesel option, both in line with buyer trends. However, it’s also tweaked its best-selling 1.0-litre TCe petrol model.

Now producing 89bhp rather than the 99bhp it launched with as a TCe 100, this Clio TCe 90 is slightly less powerful, but offers the same fuel economy of 54.3mpg.

The trim structure has changed too, with this latest Iconic Edition now representing the entry point to ownership, at £18,290.

Although the engine now produces 10bhp less, it has an identical 160Nm of torque, meaning that you won’t notice too much difference in performance. A 0-62mph time of 12.2 seconds is far from fast, but the engine’s performance is delivered in a smooth wave from low down. It doesn’t have an appetite for revs, but that’s no bad thing, because there’s little fun to be had from extending it, while the manual gearshift isn’t the most precise action, so it’s best to resort to a more relaxed approach.

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In fact, the Clio’s smooth and refined three-cylinder unit is one of the quieter engines in the supermini sector, which makes cruising longer distances easier than you might think – and you couldn’t always say that about a supermini until this latest generation of models hit the market.

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That’s also helped by the Clio’s soft and supple suspension set-up, which shrugs off small bumps and rounds off big ones nicely – exactly the kind of scars you find on everything from potholed town streets
to knobbly country lanes in the UK.

There are sportier superminis, because this relaxed suspension set-up means there is some body roll, but it’s still relatively well controlled and strikes a good balance. A Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza will be more fun to drive, but neither is as competent all round as the Renault. Light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre in tighter spots, too, while the Clio’s 391-litre boot is 10 litres larger than a VW Golf’s, which means it can occasionally operate as a family car.

Space inside the rear is relatively strong, with good head and legroom for a model that’s only four metres long.

While the Clio’s price has also climbed over the years, this Iconic Edition is still good value for money, with kit including 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control, a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and built-in sat-nav, parking sensors, full keyless operation, cruise control and lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist all fitted as standard even on this entry-level model. A VW Polo 1.0 TSI 95 in basic Life trim is around a thousand pounds more expensive.

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Quality is also good inside; in years gone by the Clio gave best to cars such as the Polo when it came to materials, but while there’s still a lot of plastic inside, some knurled metal-effect switches and soft-touch materials for the dashboard top help keep quality at a point where it’s competitive in the supermini class.

However, it’s a shame that Renault doesn’t offer the more sophisticated fully digital dash from the brand’s Zoe electric supermini, even as an option. Some rivals in this class offer this nice piece of tech and it gives a more sophisticated feel next to the Clio’s bland analogue clocks.

But it’s a small complaint, because the Renault will still deliver everything it needs to and be cheap to run, which we know is a huge consideration for modern supermini buyers as petrol prices soar. The French manufacturer is currently offering buyers zero per cent APR, no minimum deposit and a £250 contribution on finance, with this Clio TCe 90 Iconic Edition coming in at less than £200 per month on a two-year contract with a deposit of just a little over £3,000. So it remains a very strong proposition.

Model:

Renault Clio TCe 90 Iconic Edition

Price:£18,290
Engine:

1.0-litre 3cyl turbo petrol

Power/torque:89bhp/160Nm
Transmission:

Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive

0-62mph:12.2 seconds
Top speed:112mph
Economy:54.3mpg
CO2:118g/km
On sale:Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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