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First drive: Renault Clio. Image by Renault.

First drive: Renault Clio
Renaultís new Clio will be on sale here in October; it might look similar outside but underneath, itís all change.


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Renault Clio 1.0 TCe 100 Iconic

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The Clio remains one of the most important cars for Renault in the UK and Europe (yes, even in this age of crossovers) and this new one is likely going to give the Fiesta, the Polo and the incoming new Peugeot 208 a hard time.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Renault Clio 1.0 TCe 100 Iconic
Pricing: £TBA as tested; starts at circa £14,500
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door supermini
CO2 emissions: 100g/km (VED band 91-100. £125 first year)
Combined economy: 64.2mpg
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
Power: 100hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 160Nm at 2,750rpm
Boot space: 391-1,069 litres

What's this?

It's the new Renault Clio and let me stop you there - yes, we know it looks preeeetttyyyy much exactly the same as the old one. In fact, during our test drive in Portugal, one local parked their old-shape Clio IV next to ours and for a good five minutes we thought they might be fellow journalists who'd just arrived late.

So, how does one tell a new Clio apart from the old one? Mostly it's in the lights - the ones are the front are new, all-LED as standard, and have the distinctive C-shaped daytime running lights strip dangling below. At the back, the brake lights are more sculpted than before and also have a C-shaped highlight. The rear hatch is also shapelier than before, there's less grey plastic and more chrome splattered about, and the bonnet has a distinctive power-dome shape. Even with all that, it's going to be struggle unless you have exceptional eyesight, or you work for Renault.

That's OK though, as the old Clio still looked great and sold strongly (15 million sales since the 'Papa, Nicole' original of 1990) and don't fix what's not broke, right?

Thankfully, what Renault has fixed is the cabin, which is now far, far nicer than before, with high-quality surfaces, a mahooosive portrait-style touchscreen (only on top-spec models of course) and a terrific sense of comfort. Actually, it looks and feels like the cabin from a much bigger, more expensive car, even if rear seat space is a touch tight. The boot's massive though - 391 litres is a lot to squeeze out of a small car, especially when you realise that this one is fractionally smaller on the outside than the old one.

How does it drive?

The engine range for the new Clio is largely carried over from the old one, so you've got three-cylinder petrol engines in 75hp (no turbo) and 100hp (yes turbo) forms, plus a new 1.3-litre four-cylinder with 130hp (shared with the Megane, and some Mercedes models) which will only come with the seven-speed DCT dual clutch automatic. There will also be a 1.5 diesel, with 85hp, but almost literally no one's going to buy that. Next year there'll be a hybrid version, using a new 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine and two electric motors.

Renault will offer the new Clio in Play, Iconic, and RS-Line forms but here comes a massive caveat. Obviously, you're going to be tempted by RS-Line, which looks suitably sporty, has an F1-style 'blade' in the nose that's supposed to look like the front wing of Danny Ricciardo's racing car, and comes with nicely bulky bucket seats and more contrast red stitching than you can shake a sewing machine at. Don't buy it though - it also comes with stiffer suspension and 17-inch alloys, and that combo means a truly dreadful ride quality that squirms and bangs far too much, even on relatively smooth Portuguese roads. What it'll be like on UK tarmac doesn't bear thinking about.

Much, much better to go for the Iconic which has the gorgeous interior and the big touchscreen, but which has a ride quality that doesn't drive you to annoyed distraction. Our Iconic test car also came with the 100hp TCe 100 engine and a five-speed manual gearbox, which proved a much better combo than the 130hp engine and DCT that was in the RS-Line test cars - that was not a happy combination.

You won't be going too quickly in the TCe 100, but that's OK - overall it's a much better compromise, and the more relaxed progress suits entirely the Clio's more mature demeanour.

It's also going to be very safe, with autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assistant and those LED headlights on every model. Other high-end options include active cruise control that can stop-start and follow the car in front in heavy traffic (as long as you've got the auto 'box) and a new lane-centring steering system that stops the car ping-ponging between the white lines when you're using the automated driving feature. It's all very big car stuff.


Is the new Clio fun to drive? Not really, and rather surprisingly that proves especially so for the RS-Line version, in which you spend too much time swerving around lumps in the road to be enjoying yourself. The more softly-softly Iconic version was much better - still not an enthusiast's car, but a very solid thing to drive. That new cabin is hugely impressive, and the Clio feels like a much bigger, more luxurious car to drive. Fun? No. Satisfying? Yes.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain

Neil Briscoe - 21 Jun 2019    - Renault road tests
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- Clio images

2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.

2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.2020 Renault Clio orange. Image by Renault.


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