Renault Clio Pzaz tested

* Budget-priced Clio * From 8995 * On sale now...

Renault Clio Pzaz tested

What is it? Its a new special-edition version of Renaults popular supermini, available until at least the end of September. Priced at 8995 for the three-door and 9595 for the five-door, it undercuts the cheapest Ford Fiesta by 500 and costs even less than some city cars, including the equivalent Kia Picanto 1.25.

Whats it like to drive? The Pzaz is available only with the Clios entry-level 74bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine. It lacks the low-down punch of our favourite version the turbocharged 1.2 TCe but is adequate as long as youre not in a hurry. It is also much smoother and more flexible than the three-cylinder engines offered in many budget minis, although it does get noisy when pushed.

The Clio has always been one of the best-driving superminis, combining an excellent blend of comfort and control with plenty of grip. Despite the low price, the Pzaz drives like a proper grown-up hatchback rather than a budget car.

Its a shame fuel economy and emissions arent better, though. The Pzaz emits 135g/km and averages 48.7mpg, figures that are below par by todays standards.

Whats it like inside? To mark the Pzaz out as a special-edition model there are white rings around the air vents and some arty motifs on the seats, but otherwise the interior is much the same as any other Clio's. The cabin is hardly the last word in style, with lots of grey plastic throughout, but it doesnt look cheap or tacky and most controls are well laid out.

If youre wondering how Renault can afford to sell the Pzaz at such a low price you need only glance at the equipment list. It gets remote central locking, electric front windows and a height-adjustable drivers seat, but misses out on all-important air-conditioning and you cant even add it as an option.

As for safety aids, the Pzaz gets front and side airbags. There's no stability control thats an issue considering the young drivers this entry-level Clio will undoubtedly appeal to.

In fact, the only extras you can add are metallic paint and a spare wheel.

Should I buy one? If youre prepared to sacrifice creature comforts the new Pzaz is certainly worth considering. Its bigger and better to drive than similarly priced city cars such as the Kia Picanto 1.25 and is cheaper than its full-size supermini rivals.

However, the fact you dont get and cant add as an option air-conditioning or stability control will be enough to put many buyers off, and thats entirely understandable.

For us, though, the Clios price is too tempting to overlook. Better yet, if you buy before September 30 Renault dealers will knock a further 1000 off the price.

What Car? says