New Renault Clio

The new Clio aims to restore the big-selling supermini’s sense of fun, with top quality and new engines

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

It’s been 22 years since the first Clio was introduced, and some of the more recent models have lacked a bit of flair. But that’s something Renault’s rectified for the latest car, thanks to quicker steering and a slightly firmer set-up. It’s also more stylish than its predecessor and feels well rounded, despite a few low-quality touches in the cabin. It’s the perfect car to kickstart Renault’s struggling UK sales.

Judging by the size of that badge on the bonnet, Renault must be incredibly proud of the all-new Clio supermini. And rightly so, if you’re judging it by the way it looks.

While it all starts with that badge, the wide grille and versized headlights are just as eye-catching. Then there are the subtle curves in the sides and the squat rear end, which combine to ensure the new Clio stands out as one of the most stylish superminis around.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that there’s no three-door model – but this five-door does a pretty good impression of one, with its hidden rear door handles. The cabin is a far more stylish affair than we’ve become used to from the current crop of Renaults, too.

Inserts on the air vents and in the steering wheel gave our test car a sporty edge, but customers can customise to their heart’s content. We even drove a red Clio complete with a red dashboard, red door panel inserts and red stitching on black cloth seats. But although build quality and materials have improved, quality touches like a damped glovebox opening are still missing.

Nevertheless, the R-Link infotainment system grabs your attention. This seven-inch touchscreen is available from Dynamique models upwards, and links up to an automotive app store. This is where you can download software for tweeting, managing diaries or even the R-Sound app, which plays different engine noises that match up to your acceleration.

Talking of engines, there’s a choice of an entry-level 1.2-litre petrol, the new 900cc turbocharged three-cylinder we sampled or a 1.4 diesel with CO2 emissions as low as 83g/km.

The three-cylinder petrol engine promises fuel economy of 62.7mpg and is clean, too, emitting only 104g/km of CO2. There’s also a 99g/km version on the way.

And while acceleration is sluggish, with 0-62mph in 12.2 seconds, there’s a great noise from the three-cylinder engine and a subtle kick in the back as the 135Nm of torque arrives at 2,500rpm.

For those after more performance, Renault will eventually offer a four-cylinder turbo model. And the hot Renaultsport version isn’t too far away, either.

Judging by how much fun the standard car is, that’ll be something to look forward to. The steering is quicker than in the old Clio, helping it feel more responsive, while a wider track gives it more stability.

The suspension feels relatively firm, which means you can zip from bend to bend without too much body roll. But it’s definitely not as comfortable as a Volkswagen Polo. While most of the rough roads we came across didn’t pose too much of an issue, larger bumps aren’t soaked up that luxuriously.

But don’t let that put you off, because this stylish Clio has real star quality. It’s fun to drive, great to look at and full of advanced tech – and those are the things people care about in this class.

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