The Clio has been an enormous success for Renault and is not only the French firm’s best-selling model but one of the Europe’s most popular new cars as well. For years it has been a stylish, value-packed and a go-to option for those seeking low running costs.
And now it’s time for this new fifth-generation Clio, which builds on where the last model left off. It might not look particularly different to the previous supermini, though that was always Renault’s intention as the styling was the one area where the Clio didn’t need to change.
But it’s the inside that’s been revolutionised, with the interior being far more refined than ever before, as well as more technologically advanced in the process. It also sits on an all-new platform – known as the CMF-B – which allows for more interior space, as well as new electrified powertrains that will be available later in 2020.
It all sounds rather promising, but can the new Clio deliver in practice?
Renault has introduced a number of new engines onto this new Clio, with the choice of 1.0- and 1.3-litre petrol engines, as well as a 1.5-litre diesel unit. A petrol-electric hybrid will also join the range shortly.
But it’s the TCe 130 unit that’s powering our test car. It’s a turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine that’s been co-developed alongside Mercedes. In this instance it produces 128bhp and 240Nm of torque, with power being delivered by a seven-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic transmission. No manual transmission is found with this engine, which is a shame as the automatic transmission isn’t one of the smoothest.
It’s also the punchiest Clio engine in the current line-up – managing the 0-60mph sprint in 8.8 seconds and a top speed of 124mph. That said, it still manages to be efficient in the process, with Renault claiming it will return 53mpg, along with CO2 emissions of 118g/km.
Ride and handling
The Clio is an impressive all-rounder, being good to drive and relatively involving, if lacking the shine and polish off the Ford Fiesta.
However, what it loses slightly in fun it makes up for in comfort. Even in our sportier R.S Line grade with its larger alloy wheels, the model remains comfortable with a supple ride that soaks up potholes well.
It’s also fantastic to drive around town, with its small dimensions and quick steering making it easy to manoeuvre through tighter streets. Excellent visibility also helps to make it simple to park.
Interior and equipment
While Renault took an evolutionary approach to the styling on the exterior, it’s a more revolutionary tale on the interior.
A brand new 9.3-inch portrait touchscreen (found on higher-spec models) dominates the cabin and is both intuitive and quick to respond, while buyers can also choose a digital instrument cluster if they want to make the interior feel even techier. It’s an enormous leap forward over the last model’s slow and outdated system.
Elsewhere Renault has massively improved the material quality throughout, with new soft-touch materials featuring along with sturdier buttons and controls. And while this new Clio is smaller in dimensions than the previous car, miraculously Renault has managed to make the model more spacious, with its increased boot capacity being the most impressive revision. With 391 litres of room, it’s not only class-leading, but also larger than several models in the sector above – the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, for example.
Four simple trims feature, with standard kit including LED headlights, air-conditioning and autonomous emergency braking, though you’ll need the Iconic to get a seven-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and smartphone mirroring. It also gains rear parking sensors and keyless entry in the process.
S Edition brings a digital instrument cluster, climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels, while our top-spec R.S. Line model features a reversing camera, front parking sensors and a sportier bodykit.
While Renault has made many changes to the Clio to take it to the next level, prices have remained refreshingly affordable. The entry-level version costs from £14,295 – a full £1,700 less than the Ford Fiesta. Sticking with Iconic and S Edition model brings a good compromise between equipment and affordability, though our R.S. Line version can look a bit pricey – costing a rather steep £20,295.
The old Clio was someway off the mark of class leaders, but fortunately Renault has more than made up for it with this all-new model. Its new interior is almost incomparable to the old car, while a refined and comfortable driving experience only gives it further brownie points.
This expensive range-topping engine with its automatic gearbox isn’t the finest in the Clio range, but go a bit further down the trim level list and you’ll have one of the finest superminis on sale today.