So far, we’ve driven only the non-eco versions of the 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and the regular 1.5-litre diesel, both of which produce 89bhp. The petrol picks up revs smartly with a decent amount of punch from around 2500rpm, but throw in a few inclines, and you’ll need to start downshifting. The diesel’s extra strength and willingness to rev really suits the mature nature of the Clio.
The Clio might not offer the supreme handling precision of a Ford Fiesta, but it’s still pretty game and can easily be made to flow through a series of bends. Motorway stability is also impressive, and the Clio soaks up potholes much better than a Peugeot 208. However, the ride is generally a little unsettled compared with a Fiesta’s or a VW Polo’s.
The three-cylinder engine sounds clattery at tickover, with a typical warbling exhaust note, but very little mechanical vibration seeps through into the cabin. Once settled at a steady pace, you’ll struggle to tell it from a more cultured four-cylinder engine. The 1.5-diesel is one of the smoothest around, too, but the Clio lets in some wind noise at speed.
Most models are affordable to buy and run. Insurance rates are low, as is road tax, and most engines deliver excellent economy. Traditionally, though, resale values have been poor, so don’t expect your Clio to be worth a fortune when you decide to sell.
The Clio’s cabin looks fresh and modern, although there are a few too many cheap and scratchy surfaces on show. Overall, perceived quality is comparable with a Fiesta, but falls short of a Polo. The latest Clio was too new to appear in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, but the previous model received average marks for mechanical reliability.
The Clio scored a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. All models have six airbags, anti-whiplash headrests and Isofix child seat anchorage points on three of the five seats. All versions also come with electronic stability control. Deadlocks and anti-drill locks are fitted as barriers to thieves.
Higher-spec cars get a central touch-screen that shamelessly pays homage to the latest generation of portable infotainment tablets. Now, we’re not normally fans of touch-screens in cars – they tend to be fiddly to use on the move – but the Clio’s is big and simple to navigate. A rake- and reach-adjustable steering wheel and a decent range of adjustment for the driver’s seat make it easy to find a comfortable driving position, although over-the-shoulder visibility is limited.
There are roomier superminis, but the Clio is still big enough to let four adults travel in reasonable comfort. The boot is a decent size, too, at 300 litres, and the rear seats split and fold 60/40 to provide extra load space. However, there’s a large step in the extended load floor.
Standard equipment for the Clio includes electric front windows and door mirrors, Bluetooth, a USB port, Hill Start Assist and keyless entry and ignition, but you’ll need to trade up to Dynamique MediaNav or above to get the infotainment touch-screen. It’s also possible to customise your Clio, thanks to various exterior and interior packs. These highlight different parts of the cabin and co-ordinate the colour of the dashboard with the upholstery and door panels.
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