The fourth generation Renault Clio supermini range is now with us and it has regained its Va Va Voom desirability with its roomier five door smart coupe inspired styling, and the prices appeal as well.
The supermini, the UK’s best selling new car segment, is a really tough market with lots of good, fuel efficient, some exciting, some bland cars, most backed up by finance purchase deals, discounted prices and long warranties. It’s a buyer’s market so the new Clio needs to be good to trouble the best selling Ford Fiesta, the VW Polo, new Peugeot 208 and the aged Vauxhall Corsa.
Well the new Clio has returned to form over the rather dull previous generation versions. The Va Va Voom cheeky looks have returned, the Clio has grown up and is roomier all round and it adopts a sleek coupe side silhouette even though it’s a five door hatchback. The body is now curvaceous with deeply contoured sides and its looks toned having lost around 100kg in weight over the last model despite its larger size. The sloping roofline does reduce the headroom for rear seat passengers but the longer legroom is a real improvement.
The Clio will not hurt the pocket too much either but of course it is a competitive buyer’s market so published prices rarely apply so it will pay to haggle. Interestingly over 50% of Clio customers are now personalising their cars from the long list of options, but be aware your choice of colour scheme or odd specification combinations might not be the next customer’s choice which will bring down its resale value.
The new Clio mainstream models starts at £10,795 and rise to £16,295 with the usual Expression, Expression+, the best selling Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav.
The powertrain line-up marks the debut of Renault’s new TCe 90 petrol engine, a light and compact 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo unit. It may be small, but the 88hp engine performs as strongly as a conventional 1.4-litre unit while returning impressive fuel economy and emissions of 62.8 mpg and 104 g/km, both helped by a standard-fit Stop&Start system.
The 1.5 dCi 90 diesel may sound familiar, but this hugely popular engine has undergone extensive re-engineering that has increased its torque performance and improved its efficiency to one of the best available today from any manufacturer. The Stop&Start plays an important part in obtaining the official Combined Cycle figure of 83.1 mpg and a road tax-beating 90g/km of CO2 emissions. No road tax at all for this one.
Completing the initial line-up is the range price entry engine, the 1.2-litre, 75hp, four-cylinder petrol unit, again rendered cleaner and more fuel efficient than before with 51.4mpg and 127g/km. All engines are matched as standard to a five-speed manual transmission.
Niche selling versions just joining the Clio range are the sporty GT Line model, powered by Renault’s 1.2-litre TCe 120hp petrol turbo engine with EDC dual clutch transmission and priced at £17395. The other new ‘hot’ addition is the 143mph Renaultsport 200 with an all-new 1.6-litre direct injection turbocharged 200hp petrol engine and standard EDC dual clutch transmission with full-size steering wheel paddles. The price is £18,995 or the Lux version at £19,995.
But back to the real-world. All new Clio models, in addition to the vastly improved interior space and much more comfortable seating and ride quality get better levels of specification in tune with the ‘wants’ of today’s downsizing buyers. As a minimum all cars are equipped with Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Traction Control, Hill Start Assist, six airbags, cruise control, speed limiter, keyless entry and ignition, a sound system featuring Renault’s new Bass Reflex technology, Bluetooth, USB and jack connection points, electric front windows and door mirrors, plus a 60:40 split folding rear seat.
Expression+ versions add in 16-inch alloys, front fog lights and air conditioning. Next stage is Dynamique MediaNav – expected to the best-seller of the range in the UK. The key feature here is Renault’s new MediaNav system, a tablet-style integrated multimedia system controlled by a 7-inch touchscreen which provides satellite navigation as standard.
Currently top of the range is the Dynamique S MediaNav, with added features including automatic headlights and wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control, centre armrest and rear parking sensors.
For owners who want more style, there’s an extensive options list that takes in the kind of features usually associated with larger cars, including a fixed glass panoramic roof and a rear parking camera. Going further the new Clio can be ordered with co-ordinated gloss colour touches and finishes to the cabin, wheels and exterior, as well as a choice of vibrant roof decals.
I have just sampled the new Clio with the best selling Dynamique MediaNav specification but with the 1.5-litre dCi 90hp turbodiesel engine with Stop&Start. I know going the diesel route in a smallish car adds to the purchase price but with its huge fuel economy potential, zero road tax cost and nicer to drive response characteristics it will be the pick-of-the-bunch for most buyers. The on-the-road price is £15,295 but deals are there to be had in today’s competitive market especially as Renault needs to increase their sales in the UK as, like most other volume manufactures, sales are down throughout Europe, except the UK.
The headline figure from my test drive was the real-life fuel consumption of an average 70.2mpg, not the official 83.1mpg, but far better than anything else I’ve driven in this sector. I kept the car set in ECO mode which didn’t dim its performance but quite clearly benefited the low fuel consumption figure. With CO2 emissions of 90g/km there is no VED road tax to pay and company car drivers will pay 13% Benefit-in-Kind tax. Insurance costs are also attractive with a low 13E rating.
Fuel economy has not been achieved at the expense of performance. Top speed is a healthy 112mph and the zero to 62mph acceleration time is 11.7 seconds, more than enough for real-life motoring conditions. The engine with its five-speed manual gearbox felt responsive right through the range and even at relatively low speeds trundling along in ambling queues of traffic it was possible for the Clio to run at 40mph in top gear without stress to the engine or driver, very flexible and responsive once the loud pedal is pushed down.
The handling is sharp, there is predictable grip with minimal tendency for understeer and the steering is responsive and accurate. There is some body-roll during brisk cornering due to the softer suspension and more comfortable ride setup.
It’s not just ride comfort that is pleasing, it’s the overall stylish looks inside and out. The interior is vastly improved. Yes there is still some hard plastic trim but it doesn’t look cheap. The layout of the instruments and controls is first class, not in the slightest bit cluttered and it’s all logical and much more appealing than the ‘busy’ Ford Fiesta or the bland Polo.
Overall it’s the right car at the right time for Renault, very appealing and little to criticise. The all-new Clio’s Va Va Voom has returned and her mojo is back.
Milestones: New Renault Clio Dynamique MediaNav 1.5 dCi 90 5-Door. Price: £15,295. Engine/transmission: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, direct injection turbodiesel 90hp, 162lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 112mph, 0-62mph 11.7 seconds, 83.1mpg (70.2mpg on test), CO2 90g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 13%. Insurance group: 13E. Dimensions/capacities: L 4.062mm, H 1,448mm, W 1,731mm, boot/load space 300 to 1,146-litres. Warranty: 4-years/100,000 miles. For: More space, stylish sporty good looks, well equipped, superb revised diesel engine, excellent fuel economy, minimal tax costs, comfortable ride, sharp handling. Against: Rear headroom for adults is on the tight side, some cornering body-roll, spare wheel costs an extra £95. Miles Better News Agency