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Long-term tests

Renault Clio E-Tech long-term test: a great all-round supermini

First report: we celebrate as revised version of hatch joins our fleet

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Verdict

Even the first few miles have been enough to remind us of what a great all-round supermini package the Clio offers. The next few months will be a tougher test, though, as we find out how the hybrid powertrain stacks up when faced with the demands of everyday life.

  • Mileage: 1,637
  • Economy: 56.5mpg
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You can be forgiven if you’re looking at this test and asking why there’s a photograph of me holding a couple of balloons while standing next to a brand-new Renault Clio. It’s not my idea of a normal Tuesday morning, I can tell you.

But there is a link, because the French supermini is 33 years old this year and, although I don’t like to think about it too much, I’ve been working at Auto Express for about the same length of time. So it seemed apt to celebrate the connection.

In fact, the Clio has been on sale in Europe since 1990, and here in the UK since 1991, when Renault launched it to replace the well loved 5, which – coincidentally – was the first car I owned.

Of course, that model has just been relaunched in a stunning new, fully electric form. But it has big shoes to fill – not just those of its illustrious predecessor, truly a car for the masses, but also the Clio, which is actually the best-selling French car of all time (yes, ahead of the likes of the Renault 5 and 4, not to mention the Citroen 2CV).

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We’ve had an example of this fifth generation of Clio on our fleet before, and given it gongs more than once in our New Car Awards. But we thought it was worth revisiting for a couple of reasons. 

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Firstly, the range has just been facelifted, bringing some tweaks to the styling and spec. And secondly, the revisions coincide with Renault making a fresh push towards electrification – so although a regular petrol version of the car is available, the focus is on the hybrid model that I’m running.

What are the big differences? There’s a fresh, sharper look, particularly at the front, where Renault’s latest evolution of its logo is now proudly displayed in the centre of the grille. The brand’s new LED daytime-running light signature has also been installed, giving a sophisticated face to what has always been a smart-looking supermini. 

I also like to think the Flame Red metallic paint helps our example to stand out a bit further; it’s the only option on our Clio, in fact, and its £700 bill takes the overall cost to £21,995. I don’t think that’s a bad overall price for a car with a sophisticated hybrid powertrain and the potential for lower running costs around town.

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The entire Clio range is fairly simple, with just three variants and very few possible add-ons to complicate matters. Our car is an entry-level Evolution, but it doesn’t feel badly kitted out, with air-conditioning, cruise control, 16-inch alloys, LED headlights and rear parking sensors all included.

Under the bonnet there’s a 1.6-litre petrol engine, teamed up with a small (1.2kWh) battery and a pair of electric motors. There’s plenty of punch overall, with 143bhp and lots of torque, so this is still a car that can hit 62mph in just over nine seconds. 

I don’t expect to be putting that figure to the test. Instead, I’m looking forward to seeing how close I can get to the quoted 65.7mpg. In my first six weeks with the car, I’ve racked up around 1,000 miles, although some of those were for a upcoming road test. 

With that use (mainly motorways and A-roads) in mind, I’m reasonably impressed to be managing 56.5mpg so far – but keen to see if a higher proportion of urban miles increases the amount of electric running, and nudges up the overall economy figure.

Model:Renault Clio E-Tech Evolution
On fleet since:February 2024
Price new:£21,295
Powertrain:1.6-litre 4cyl petrol, 2x e-motors, 143bhp
CO2/tax:96g/km/24%
Options:Metallic paint (£700)
Insurance:Group: 15E Quote: £1,071
Mileage:1,637
Economy:56.5mpg (on test)
Any problems?None so far
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