Used Renault Clio (Mk4, 2012-2019) review

The Renault Clio is a stylish supermini that’s relatively cheap to run, but it’s not a class leader

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Sharp styling
  • Personalisation options
  • Relatively economical
  • Firm ride
  • Cheap cabin trim
  • Rivals offer better engines


Until the arrival of the current model, the fourth-generation Renault Clio was easily the best of the lot in almost every way. It might not look as cute as its predecessors and it didn’t scoop a Car of the Year award (unlike the Mk1 and Mk3), but it’s stronger, safer, offers a higher spec and is better built than ever. With some excellent engines, a big boot and a reasonably spacious cabin, the Clio has lots to offer, even if it isn’t a class leader in any particular area. Entry-level cars are spartan, but mid-range ones have lots of kit. Even better, it should all work; our Driver Power surveys show the Clio can match key rivals when it comes to build quality and reliability.

Which one should I buy?

  • Best Renault Clio for low costs: Energy TCe 75 Play
  • Best Renault Clio for fuel economy: 1.5 dCi 90 Play
  • Best Renault Clio for driving fun: RS 220 Trophy 

The Mk4 Renault Clio is a much more attractive and unique-looking supermini than its conservative predecessor.

The bold face was updated slightly in 2016 with the Clio's mid-life facelift. It received a revised headlight design with the old LED daytime running lights that were tacked on to the grille incorporated into the main lamp. Tweaked bumpers front and rear, new colours and fresh alloy wheel designs complete the exterior look. It would only really be noticeable if you parked the old and new car back-to-back, however.

Renault jumped on the personalisation bandwagon, too, with options such as bodywork decals for the roof and matching colourschemes for the paint, wheels and interior all available.

The brand carries the Clio's stylish looks over to the interior, where the car receives a seven-inch tablet-style screen integrated into the dash, which, on higher-spec cars, is finished in an attractive gloss black trim. As of 2016, entry-level cars gain a smartphone mount on the dash.

As for the engines, the 0.9-litre petrol is significantly perkier than the 1.2-litre engine, and while you’ll pay a small premium for the smaller, more modern unit, it’s worth the extra. The diesel is a great choice, too, because it’s muscular, smooth and economical.

All Clios have Bluetooth, electric front windows and central locking. Expression+ adds air-con and alloy wheels, while the Dynamique MediaNav also has a seven-inch touchscreen multimedia display and electrically adjustable door mirrors.

Range-topping Dynamique S MediaNav versions add climate control, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors and power-folding door mirrors to the kit list.

Few options are available on the Expression, but extras worth seeking out on the Dynamique include a glass roof, heated seats and a rear parking camera. 

What are the alternatives?

As an all-rounder nothing can beat the Ford Fiesta. It is plentiful, great value, brilliant to drive and practical. The UK’s best-seller is also well equipped if you avoid entry-level models.

Most of these attributes are shared by the Vauxhall Corsa, although it’s neither as much fun to drive, nor as polished.

The Volkswagen Polo costs more than the Renault, but it’s a class act even if it has little flair. It’s offered with some excellent engines, though. The Skoda Fabia is a cut-price Polo; it shares the VW’s running gear and much of its technology, but at lower prices.

The Mazda 2 looks sharp and is good value. It’s fun to drive and well equipped if you buy at least a mid-range model. 

Renault Clio vs VW Polo vs Skoda Fabia

Renault Clio vs Volkswagen Polo vs Skoda Fabia

Fresh from a minor update in 2016, the Renault Clio was sent into battle in early 2017 against our favourite supermini, the Volkswagen Polo, as well as the practical Skoda Fabia. By then, the Clio was beginning to show its age, so while we applauded its standard equipment and low-rate finance, it wasn’t enough to prevent the Polo from taking class honours. Read the full test...

Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy vs Peugeot 208 GTi & Ford Fiesta ST

There was a time when a performance Clio was the default choice for anyone looking for a practical and potent hot hatch. The Mk4 Clio didn’t get off to the best of starts, but we were keen to see if the then-new RS 220 Trophy could inject some va-va-voom. It wasn’t to be, with the Clio finishing third, behind the all-conquering Fiesta ST in first, which left the 208 GTi to secure second place for France. Read the full test...

Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red Edition vs Renault Clio GT-Line

Any supermini faces a tough fight when being ranked against the Ford Fiesta as a driver’s car. So the Clio GT-Line was no match for the Fiesta Zetec S Red Edition in the battle of the warm hatches, with the Renault lagging behind the Ford in just about every way. Still, the Clio GT-Line certainly looks good, while five-door practicality is an added bonus. Read the full test...

Most Popular

New 2022 MG7 could be a cut-price Audi A5
MG 7 - side

New 2022 MG7 could be a cut-price Audi A5

The new MG7 saloon has been teased ahead of its August reveal
8 Aug 2022
New Hyundai Ioniq 6 prototype review
Hyundai Ioniq 6 prototype - front
Road tests

New Hyundai Ioniq 6 prototype review

An early drive of the new sharply-styled Hyundai Ioniq 6 EV shows there’s plenty to look forward to
10 Aug 2022
New 2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV: UK prices and specs revealed
Alfa Romeo Tonale - front

New 2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV: UK prices and specs revealed

Full prices and specs have been revealed for Alfa’s long-awaited BMW X1 rival
10 Aug 2022