Renault Clio review

Category: Small car

The latest Clio is a good-value small car that's fun to drive and has a smart interior

Orange Renault Clio front cornering
  • Orange Renault Clio front cornering
  • Orange Renault Clio rear cornering
  • Jonty Renk test driving Renault Clio
  • Orange Renault Clio boot open
  • Renault Clio infotainment touchscreen
  • Orange Renault Clio right driving
  • Orange Renault Clio front driving
  • Orange Renault Clio front cornering
  • Orange Renault Clio rear cornering
  • Orange Renault Clio front right static
  • Orange Renault Clio headlights detail
  • Orange Renault Clio alloy wheel detail
  • Orange Renault Clio badge detail
  • Renault Clio interior dashboard
  • Orange Renault Clio interior front seats
  • Orange Renault Clio interior back seats
  • Renault Clio interior gearstick detail
  • Renault Clio interior climate controls
  • Orange Renault Clio front cornering
  • Orange Renault Clio rear cornering
  • Jonty Renk test driving Renault Clio
  • Orange Renault Clio boot open
  • Renault Clio infotainment touchscreen
  • Orange Renault Clio right driving
  • Orange Renault Clio front driving
  • Orange Renault Clio front cornering
  • Orange Renault Clio rear cornering
  • Orange Renault Clio front right static
  • Orange Renault Clio headlights detail
  • Orange Renault Clio alloy wheel detail
  • Orange Renault Clio badge detail
  • Renault Clio interior dashboard
  • Orange Renault Clio interior front seats
  • Orange Renault Clio interior back seats
  • Renault Clio interior gearstick detail
  • Renault Clio interior climate controls
What Car?’s Clio deals
New car deals
Save up to £2,180
Target Price from £16,123
Save up to £2,180
or from £176pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £13,895

Introduction

What Car? says...

We’ve got used to the Renault Clio going through image changes like they're going out of fashion, and the latest version of the small car has been restyled to match the looks of the French manufacturer’s newest models.

As a result, the Clio has a front-end design similar to the Renault Megane E-Tech electric car and the Renault Austral family SUV. And like the Austral, it's available in a new range-topping trim called Esprit Alpine, inspired by Renault's Alpine F1 team.

The engine range is straightforward: you can have a 1.0-litre petrol or a 1.6-litre hybrid petrol. (As with other Renault hybrid and electric cars, the 1.6 is badged E-Tech).

Of course, the Clio isn't the only small car you can get with hybrid technology these days – the Honda Jazz and the Toyota Yaris have been using it for years. And there are plenty of rivals with non-hybrid petrol engines in this hotly contested class too, from the Skoda Fabia, the Vauxhall Corsa and the VW Polo to the Audi A1 and the Mini 3-Door Hatch.

So, is the Renault Clio a good buy, or will you be better off with one of those rival cars? Read on to find out...

Learn more about the Clio from Renault

Overview

The Renault Clio represents even stronger value than before and its wide breadth of abilities makes it a great choice over its rivals. Indeed, it’s fun to drive without sacrificing much in the way of comfort, but few small hatchbacks combine this with a smart interior and a generous level of standard equipment. While the E-Tech hybrid version is smooth and efficient, it’s the cheaper 1.0-litre petrol engine in Techno trim that makes the most sense.

  • Smart interior is packed with equipment
  • Good ride and handling balance
  • Practical boot
  • Tight for taller adults in the rear seats
  • Slightly firm low-speed ride
  • High boot loading lip
New car deals
Save up to £2,180
Target Price from £16,123
Save up to £2,180
or from £176pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £13,895

Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £19,395
Renault Clio 1.0 TCe 90 Techno 5dr review
What Car? Target Price
: £17,369
Save at least £2,026
Get the best price
See the full range

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

With 90bhp and a 0-62mph acceleration time of 12.3 seconds, the Renault Clio's 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit – badged TCe 90 – is perfectly adequate for dashing around town.

Performance feels rather leisurely when you ask more from it, though: you'll have to change down a gear using its six-speed manual gearbox if you plan to overtake slower traffic or head up a steep incline. An equivalent Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 95 has a stronger mid-range punch.

The other Clio engine option is the 1.6-litre hybrid, called the E-Tech 145. It produces 143bhp for a 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds. Unlike the TCe 90, it uses an automatic gearbox, resulting in a smooth and linear power delivery.

When accelerating from a standstill, it can take a second or two for the petrol engine to wake up, and the engine and motor pull adequately, if not very strongly.

Suspension and ride comfort

Although by small car standards we wouldn’t describe the Clio as uncomfortable, it can’t round off imperfect road surfaces as well as the Skoda Fabia or the VW Polo, and has a slightly choppy low-speed ride.

Those impacts never cause the car’s body movements to feel uncontrolled though, and it does settle down as you build up towards motorway speeds. The flip-side to the Clio’s firmness is tighter body control over undulating roads, so you and your passengers experience less vertical movement.

Renault Clio image
Skip the showroom and find out more online
Orange Renault Clio rear cornering

Handling

If you pitch the Clio into a corner briskly, you’ll find that body lean is kept nicely under control.

The steering has a more direct and accurate response than most rivals – including the Skoda Fabia and Vauxhall Corsa – and gives a better sense of connection with the front wheels. Selecting the Sport mode adds weight to the steering for an extra bit of reassurance.

If you start to push the car hard, you’ll feel it gently and safely running wide at the front before the stability control kicks in to rein it in safely. That said, the Polo offers greater and more predictable levels of grip.

Noise and vibration

In the Clio E-Tech hybrid, there’s a slight whine from the electric motor when it’s running on electricity. If the battery is low, the engine will kick in quite loudly to top it up, which can take you by surprise in traffic. The E-Tech engine is smoother than the Yaris's, but can sound coarse when you start to push it.

The automatic gearbox changes gears smoothly enough. Unlike in the Yaris, it's not a CVT automatic but sounds like one at time when it holds on to gears to get the most out of the engine under acceleration.

The TCE 90 is a little gruff on startup, with some vibrations felt by occupants, which is more noticeable when the stop-start system operates in traffic. The Fabia’s 1.0-litre engine is smoother.

The brake pedal response can initially feel sensitive, but you get used to it quickly enough and they perform strongly. In the Hybrid, you can also slot the gear lever into ‘B-mode’ to maximise the regenerative braking for charging the battery. 

There’s a little suspension noise as the Clio deals with bumps, while slightly more wind and road noise means it feels less refined than a Skoda Fabia or VW Polo.

"Precise steering and good body control help to make the Clio feel fun to drive – there's even a Sport driving mode which adds weight to the steering wheel.” – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Driving overview

Strengths Nimble to drive without sacrificing much comfort; hybrid is hushed around town

Weaknesses Slightly choppy low speed ride; some rivals have smoother and punchier engines

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The driving seat in the Renault Clio has a decent amount of adjustment and most people should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel.

There’s no lumbar adjustment on any of the trims, so you’ll need to look at the Audi A1 if you want this feature. Esprit Alpine trims come with sportier seats with more side bolstering to help keep you supported when cornering, but even the standard items do a good job of hold you in place.

The steering wheel is reach and rake adjustable, and you get a clear view through it to the 10in instrument cluster, or the 7.0in digital TFT display which comes with Evolution and Techno trims. Although you can switch between modes, the 10in digital screen can’t show as much information as the Active Info Display in the VW Polo. The resolution is clear and crisp, though.

Despite that, the 10.0in driver display extends the full width of the cluster and can show sat-nav directions and other information.

Unlike some cars, which have their controls hidden away in the infotainment menu, the Clio has physical buttons and dials, including a climate control system with integrated digital displays.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Clio’s screen and front windows are large, and while windscreen pillars are chunkier than a Skoda Fabia’s, the shallow angle of them means they don’t impede very much at junctions or roundabouts. For a small car with a better view forwards, try the Honda Jazz (it has handy front quarter windows to minimise blind-spots).

With smaller side windows and a narrow rear windscreen, the view out the back of the Clio isn’t quite so good. Again, a Jazz or Skoda Fabia provides a better view out the back.

At least you get rear parking sensors as standard on all Clios, and all trims except entry-level Evolution get front sensors and a rear-view camera.

Jonty Renk test driving Renault Clio

Sat nav and infotainment

The Evolution and Techno trims come with a 7.0in infotainment touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, DAB radio, Bluetooth and built-in sat-nav.

The rear-view camera image looks fuzzy at night, but otherwise it has crisp graphics and the screen responds quickly enough to inputs.

With Esprit Alpine trim, you get a larger 9.3in portrait-oriented screen that's more like a tablet computer. It's glass-fronted and looks good, but doesn’t add a great deal more in terms of functions.

Both screens come with five touch-sensitive buttons at the base for infotainment shortcuts – although a good old-fashioned volume knob would be better.

Quality

The Clio’s interior looks and feels much smarter than most of its rivals, especially if you opt for mid-level Techno trim or above. With soft-touch surfaces and a mix of glossy and fabric finishes, it compares well with the Polo and even the A1.

The ambient lighting on mid-spec Techno trim and above adds pizzazz at night. Meanwhile, Esprit Alpine trim includes contrast stitching and a French flag embroidered into the dashboard fabric.

The metal-effect climate control dials have a tactile feel, adding to the sense of quality, although the Skoda Fabia and VW Polo controls feel more robust overall.

“I like that the Clio's interior combines good-quality materials with up-to-date technology – its infotainment system looks better than the one you get in the Skoda Fabia, and it always display shortcuts for frequently used functions.” – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

Interior overview

Strengths Smart interior; simple control layout; supportive front seats

Weaknesses Rear visibility isn’t great

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

For what is a fairly small car, front space in the Renault Clio is generous, with plenty of head and leg room for drivers well over six feet tall, and little danger of clashing elbows with your passenger. Still, you’ll have no complaints in the Peugeot 208 or the VW Polo either.

Oddment storage includes a big glovebox, decent door bins, storage in the central armrest and a deep tray in front of the gearlever. That said, it can’t beat the Tardis-like Honda Jazz, which not only has deeper pockets but also two gloveboxes.

Rear space

Rear space in the Clio is fair, but there’s no doubt that an adult over six feet tall will find their head very close to the roof lining. If the person sitting in front of them is a similar size, the rear passenger’s knees will be wedged against the front seat.

Hybrid models are just as spacious as regular versions, although neither has as much rear space as the Honda Jazz, the Skoda Fabia, or the VW Polo. The Jazz has room to spare for the adults in the outer spaces, plus wide door openings that make putting a child in their child seat a doddle.

The Jazz and the Fabia are better at accommodating a third passenger, too – the Clio’s raised middle pew will force the occupant's head even further up against the roof lining.

Orange Renault Clio boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

Every Clio has 60/40 split folding rear seats. That's par for the course in this class, but the highly-versatile Jazz allows you to fold up the rear seat base, revealing a cavernous area that you can park a bicycle across.

The seatbacks fold to create a flat floor, but the front passenger seat doesn’t fold far enough forward to make much of a difference with extra-long loads.

You get driver’s seat height adjustment as standard. If you want to give the same luxury to your front-seat passenger, you’ll need to avoid the entry-level trim.

Boot space

On paper, the Clio looks to have a truly cavernous boot by the standards of the class. At 391 litres in non-hybrid models, it’s not just bigger than those of its rivals, it’s also bigger than that of the VW Golf from the class above. That means it should have plenty of space for a shopping trip or weekend away.

You get a two-level boot floor so you can either maximise space or reduce the height of the lip when loading it through the tailgate. In the floor’s lowest position, lifting heavy items in and out can be rather awkward. The Jazz has a much lower lip to lift items over and is therefore easier to get things in and out of.

The E-Tech hybrid’s boot capacity is quite a lot smaller, at 301 litres. It’s still bigger than a Toyota Yaris boot, but you’ll get more space in a Jazz.

“The Skoda Fabia may come with an umbrella in the driver's door for rainy days, but that car misses out on the Clio's central armrest, which doubles as a storage cubby for your odds and ends.” Dan Jones, Reviewer

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of head and leg room up front; lots of storage space; big boot

Weaknesses Tight rear seat space

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Renault Clio is offered with temptingly low pricing, with the entry-level Evolution trim undercutting the cheapest versions of most rivals, including the Peugeot 208, the Seat Ibiza, the Skoda Fabia and the the VW Polo.

On top of that, it should hold on to its value better than a Fabia over three years, although both the Honda Jazz and the Polo suffer far less depreciation over the same period.

With official fuel economy figures of 67.3mpg for the E-Tech hybrid and 54.3mpg for the TCe 90, the former is the most frugal Clio on paper. During our test drive (which consisted of town, countryside and motorway driving), the hybrid achieved an impressive combined figure of 57.6mpg.

Meanwhile, on a separate testing occasion, the TCe 90 achieved a respectable real-world fuel economy figure of 46.3mpg. If you’re a company car driver, the Hybrid should be a good option, with its low CO2 emissions (from as little as 95g/km).

Equipment, options and extras

Regardless of the trim level, the Clio has a generous amount of equipment. Indeed, even the entry-level Evolution trim comes with 16in alloy wheels, full LED headlights, automatic windscreen wipers, keyless start, automatic climate control, touchscreen infotainment and rear parking sensors.

Techno trim adds more creature comforts, including 17in alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, a wireless phone-charging pad, automatic LED headlights, front parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

Esprit Alpine is the range-topping trim and adds a host of sporty features to the Clio, including sports seats and unique 17in alloy wheels. On top of that, it gets the larger infotainment screen and digital driver’s display, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats and adaptive cruise control.

Renault Clio infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

The Clio didn't feature in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Renault as a brand finished in the bottom half of the manufacturers table, coming in 23rd place out of 32 brands. That’s above Audi and Vauxhall but below most other rivals.

Every Clio comes with a three-year warranty with no mileage limit for the first year and a 60,000-mile cap in the following two. That’s pretty par for the course and matches the three-year warranties offered by most rival brands, but not as generous as Hyundai’s five-year policy or Kia’s seven-year package.

Safety and security

Euro NCAP awarded the Clio the maximum five stars for safety, and it performed better than the Audi A1 at protecting adults from chest injuries in the event of a frontal impact. However, because the Clio was tested back in 2019, it can’t be compared to the five-star Polo, which was tested under 2022’s tougher regime.

As well as being well-rated for protecting its occupants in a crash, the Clio also helps to prevent you having one in the first place – automatic emergency braking (AEB), traffic-sign recognition and lane-keep assistance are all standard.

“When we tested the Renault Clio against its Skoda Fabia rival, we found that the Clio would cost a typical owner less to run over three years – and that the Renault would be worth more than the Skoda at the end of that period” – George Hill, Staff Writer

Costs overview

Strengths Lots of standard equipment; low entry price; competitive residuals; good fuel economy

Weaknesses Nothing we’ve seen so far


For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

FAQs

  • There are some good finance deals on the Clio that make it one of the more affordable small cars. Insurance is cheaper than for some rivals too. Find the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.

  • All things being relative, the Clio isn’t bad on fuel: it should do high 40s to the gallon in pure petrol form, while the hybrid should be above 50mpg.

  • Sadly the hot hatch version – the 2013-2019 Renault Clio RS – is no longer available new. You might find one on our used cars for sale pages.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £2,180
Target Price from £16,123
Save up to £2,180
or from £176pm
Swipe to see used car deals
Nearly new deals
From £13,895
RRP price range £17,995 - £24,295
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, hybrid
MPG range across all versions 54.3 - 67.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £957 / £1,149
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,914 / £2,298
Available colours