First Drive Review: Renault Clio

Independent review by Chris Russon

4-minute read

Orange Renault Clio Exterior Front Driving

First Drive: Renault Clio

Explore the key features of the Renault Clio in our expert first drive review

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The latest Renault Clio offers plenty of style and driver joy, making it one of the best cars the supermini segment has to offer.


  • Typical French style
  • Plenty of kit to choose from
  • Improved practicality
  • Engaging to drive
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Nicole would be proud at the way her favourite car – the Renault Clio – has grown up.

As the French-built supermini enters its fifth generation, the character played by Estelle Skornik in the famous Papa and Nicole television advertising campaign of the 1990s could not fail to be impressed.

And at such an affordable price tag, the new Clio is one of the best value-for-money superminis around.

Design and Practicality

The latest Clio is actually slightly shorter than the previous model at a fraction over 13ft 3ins long, but it's bigger inside and comes with a boot, that at 391 litres in capacity, can take much more than before.

That’s significantly more than can be had in a Ford Fiesta. Drop the rear seats and there’s 1,069 litres of space to be had in the new Clio.

From a design perspective the new Clio builds on the good looks of the previous version, but it has more mature lines with a sportier profile taking in chrome finishes around the windows and above the sill, while at the rear its looks are embellished by smart LED tail light clusters.

The interior of the new Clio is a class act in the supermini sector with a smart looking and easy to use dashboard and, while the Iconic version came with a conventionally styled 7-inch touchscreen, it was more than adequate in operation.

The larger screen on the R.S. Line car was the finishing touch to the interior and created something of a ‘big car’ feel to the layout.

Equipment and Technology

Ultra bright LED headlights are fitted to all versions and so is air conditioning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warnings, and a traffic sign recognition system.

On all but the basic model, Renault’s Easy Link multimedia setup is included, offering sat nav and full smartphone connectivity with a 7-inch display screen and the option to upgrade that to a portrait style 9.3-inch screen on Iconic trim models.

Higher grade versions get the bigger screen as standard, as well as having a 7-inch TFT information panel in the instrument cluster. There's also the option of Renault’s fully digitised 10-inch multimode display panel.

Engines and Driving Experience

The new model line up tops out at the high specification R.S. Line version, powered by a 1.3-litre TCe engine that offers 130bhp and a 7-speed electronic automatic gearbox.

But it's how the latest Clio drives and handles which impresses most, and the new car is both agile and very refined on the road.

The Renault Clio exhibits a huge amount of grip, inspiring a feeling of safety and larger car robustness at all times.
Chris Russon

I tried two versions of the new Clio – a 1.0-litre TCe developing 100bhp in bottom-but-one Iconic trim, and a 1.3-litre in top R.S. Line specification with 130bhp on tap.

Performance data is 0 to 62mph in 11.8 seconds for the 1.0-litre and 9.0 seconds for the 1.3-litre, with top speeds of 116mph and 124mph respectively.

Surprisingly, though, it's the smaller engine which suits the Clio best and that’s probably down to the weight of the car which is some 70kg lighter.

Both perform very nicely, but the 1.0-litre exhibited quite sporty characteristics when it came to handling, and its suspension setup coped with the worst that British roads have to offer in handsome fashion.

Fuel economy is rated officially at 54.3mpg and 49.6mpg respectively, with emissions of 99g/km and 118g/km. On our runs, we managed to average 50.9mpg and 47.1mpg over similar routes.

In fact, the economy of the 1.0-litre Clio is bettered only by the single diesel model in the line-up – an 85bhp 1.5-litre version that's rated at 67.2mpg, but by no means as nippy as its petrol counterpart.


Since it first arrived back in 1990, the Clio has gone on to become one of the best-selling French cars in the world, notching up well over 15 million sales in the process.

The clamour to get hold of a Clio is sure not to wane as the new one comes on the scene, and at the moment, it’s up there with the very best the supermini segment has to offer.