Renault Clio Eco
The new ultra-efficient Renault Clio promises to return 88.3mpg and emits 83g/km of CO2
The Clio Eco makes a decent case for itself. It’s more spacious and economical than ever, but still has loads of character. The fact that it handles well and is priced competitively adds to the appeal – but the lack of refinement is a problem. The 1.5-litre diesel needs to be smoother and could do with a bit more punch.
You wouldn’t guess this was an eco-special from the way it looks, though. The Eco gets the same detailed headlamp clusters and stylish design as every other Clio, and our Dynamique model also features chrome detailing in the front bumper, bootlid and along the sides of the doors.
The only giveaway is the 15-inch wheels on our car, but these can be swapped for 16-inch alloys at no extra cost if you sacrifice a few mpg.
The 1.5-litre diesel under the bonnet is the same engine that featured in the old car, but it’s been heavily revised and now boasts 90bhp instead of 88bhp.
It’s not exactly refined, with a rattly diesel note under acceleration and a fair amount of tyre noise above 30mph. The five-speed manual transmission is a little clunky, and the engine needs a fair amount of noisy revs to get it off the mark.
Unfortunately for the Clio, there are plenty of supermini eco-specials out there which don’t feel as compromised. On the plus side, the steering is light and easy around town and city streets are soaked up comfortably. Negotiating big potholes is a different matter, though, with a large thud making its way into the cabin.
Inside, the smart cloth trim on sporty-looking seats and a decent-quality dashboard both impress, though. We love the new seven-inch touchscreen for the standard sat-nav as well, as it looks great and responds to commands instantly, unlike many clunky infotainment systems.
But while there’s plenty we like about the Clio, the Eco isn’t perfect. That rattly diesel engine sticks out like a sore thumb in what feels like an otherwise well rounded package.