What Car? says...
We’ve got used to the Renault Clio going through more costume changes than Madonna. From not-so-subtle nose jobs to complete transformations, each new version has had a style of its own.
Imagine our surprise, then, when we saw this latest Clio to find that the French manufacturer has clearly opted for evolution rather than revolution. That said, the previous generation of this popular small car was more glamorous and desirable than its sensible predecessor, so why mess with it?
To find out whether the Renault Clio has what it takes to compete with them, read on through the next few page of this review, where we'll tell you whether the interior impressed use with its plushness and space, if the driving experience is up to scratch and how it compares to those rivals.
Remember, if you do decide to buy a new car, whatever make and model takes your fancy, we can help you make big savings on the list price. Simply peruse the free What Car? New Car Buying service, where you can find sizeable discounts without any awkward haggling, including some impressive Renault Clio Deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
With the TCe 90 engine fitted, the Renault Clio has a similar amount of power to our favourite version of the Volkswagen Polo, the 1.0 TSI 95, and you'd expect to make it feel just as punchy on the road. Sadly, though, it doesn’t, and its lower torque output means it doesn’t perform as well from low revs so you have to work the engine hard to make progress.
The E-Tech Hybrid 145 is now the Clio engine of choice for those who prioritise efficiency. It’s punchier than the TCe 90, and there’s a surprising amount of poke off the line even when it’s running in fully electric mode. It can occasionally take a second or two for the petrol engine to kick in after treading hard on the accelerator, but you never feel you’re going nowhere, thanks to that initial burst of acceleration.
Suspension and ride comfort
One thing’s for sure, if you start to push the Clio hard, you’ll feel it gently and safely running wide at the front before the stability control kicks in to rein it back in. It’s safe, but the Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo both grip more evenly from front to rear.
Noise and vibration
If you try to pull away from a standstill at low revs with the 1.0-litre TCe 90 petrol engine, you’ll notice some vibration through the Clio's steering wheel, pedals and gearlever. The gearshift itself is hampered by an overly large gearknob, which isn’t particularly comfortable to hold, and fifth gear requires a deliberate hand before it engages, but the gearstick is high in the centre console for easy reach.
The current Renault Clio did not feature in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey but Renault as a brand finished in a middling 16th place out of 30 car makers rated. The previous-generation (2013-2019) Renault Clio did feature in the survey, and came ninth out of 17 small cars up to five years old. Read more here
The Renault Clio is not available as an electric car but you can get it as a regular hybrid that combines a 143bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine with a small electric motor and battery, and can officially return up to 68.9mpg. It can travel short distances on electric power and feels much punchier than the regular 89bhp 1.0-litre petrol unit. The Renault Zoe is an all-electric car that’s a similar size to the Clio. Read more here
We think the 143bhp 1.6 E-Tech Hybrid 145 is the best Renault Clio engine because it’s smoother, zippier and more fuel-efficient than the regular 1.0-litre petrol version. As for the trim levels, Techno strikes the best compromise between cost and kit, adding front fog lights, a rear-view camera, a height-adjustable front passenger seat and more. Read more here
The Renault Clio in Techno trim costs more than the Clio Evolution and adds lots of useful extra equipment. For example, Techno includes front fog lights so you can see better in poor conditions, a height-adjustable front passenger seat, and a rear-view camera which makes parking easier. Read more here
The Renault Clio was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating by the independent experts at Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2019. The model did a better job of protecting adult and child passengers than the Audi A1, Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208 (bear in mind that safety tests are tougher today than they were when the Clio received its rating). Read more here
It depends which engine you choose. With the 1.0-litre petrol, you get 391 litres of space, which is impressive for a small car and more than you’ll find in the Volkswagen Golf boot. If you choose the 1.6-litre hybrid engine the Clio’s boot is smaller (301 litres) because of the battery pack, but still bigger than the Toyota Yaris Hybrid boot. Read more here
|RRP price range||£18,795 - £23,795|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||hybrid, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||54.4 - 68.9|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||5 years / 100000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£975 / £1,162|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£1,950 / £2,324|