Once one of Europe’s favourite superminis the Renault Clio recently fell by the wayside in favour of segment competitors such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. It’s taken Renault a long time to offer us this fifth-generation Clio, which it believes can not only match but also rival the benchmark models that supermini drivers have recently opted for.
French automotive manufacturer Renault has really upped their game. While the design is familiar, to gain back its sector credibility the Clio has been completely overhauled. It is all-new, in fact when you take away the design, around 85% of the stuff that you can’t see is a complete redesign. And the result? Much better driving dynamics which really could rival the Fiesta.
The old Clio was your fall back for comfort, some would argue cheap comfort, as quite frankly you got what you paid for. Now, however, we’re offered a surprising feel of quality to go with that comfort. The interior design is smart and much more upmarket than you’d expect given the price. Combine that with a genuinely pleasant drive and impressive media technology you begin to wonder how it can still sit so low beneath both the Fiesta and the Polo in terms of price. And yet it does thanks to a starting price of £14,500.
The price does of course vary depending on the engine and trim level. There is a choice of three petrol engines and one diesel. The SCe 75 and TCe 100 engines have a five-speed manual as standard, TCe 130 comes exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch and the dCi diesel has a six-speed manual. Entry-level trim comes in the form of ‘Play’, followed by ‘Iconic’, ‘S Edition’ and a range-topping ‘RS Line.’ It’s thought a Renault Sport model may also follow.
It’s great for city driving, as any subcompact car should be. It’s nippy and easy to park, without compromising on space. Sure, room is restricted for adults in the back, but does that really matter? If you’re in the market for a car which will comfortably seat 4-5 adults for frequent journeys, you probably aren’t contemplating a supermini in the first place. For anyone else, such as families with small children, there is ample space in the rear. The Clio even manages to offer the biggest boot space in the segment. You’ll find 391 litres of storage capacity in the petrol variant – impressive considering this is more than you would see in a Ford Focus or a Volkswagen Golf from the class above.
So, what’s the verdict?
Overall, we’re offered greater practicality, extra safety, much more sophisticated media technology and a sharper look that we didn’t even know we needed. Has Renault absolutely nailed its attempt to push out the Fiesta? Probably not. But considering that this fifth-gen model is the first real attempt at rivalling other contenders, it has done pretty well indeed. Given all the surprising new pros, if you’re in the market for a supermini it would be a shame to overlook this all-new Clio.