Renault Clio Review
Stylish, comfy and well-equipped, the Clio is more appealing than ever, proving a strong alternative to the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa
Strengths & weaknesses
- Good to drive
- Lots of standard equipment
- Strong interior quality
- Limited rear space
- Rivals are more enjoyable to drive
- Some engines lack character
Renault Clio prices from £6,490 Finance from £139.06 per month
With more than 15 million Renault Clios having found homes in Europe, it is the continent’s most popular supermini. Such success didn’t happen overnight though, different versions of the Clio have been around for three decades, offering charming styling, enticing finance deals and fiery performance editions along the way.
While mainland sales have always been strong, in the UK the Ford Fiesta tends to outsell the Clio. In the past the Fiesta has represented a better all-round package than the Clio. In its latest guise, though, the French hatchback excels across the board – the weaknesses highlighted above are more nit-picking than purchase-stopping flaws.
Ultimately many things come down to price and entry-level brand new Clios undercut an equally entry-level Ford Fiesta by around £1,300. Similarly, range-topping Clios are significantly cheaper than all-singing, all-dancing Fiesta. That said, the Fiesta range is skewed slightly by Vignale models, with Vignale being a kind of luxury pseudo-sub-brand. And the Ford is available with great value PCP finance deals, making it surprisingly affordable.
Renault doesn’t bother with luxury Clio models, instead it offers an easy to understand range of trims, four engines and enough kit as standard to keep most motorists happy – cruise control and LED lights are just two features included across the range.
Petrol-powered models will likely make up the bulk of sales but there is a diesel option should you want a small car but cover high mileages and need the most economical option. Similarly, manual gearboxes will be most popular, though automatic transmissions are available.
As for safety, the Clio has earned a full five star crash safety rating. The Clio rated 96% for adult occupant protection, 89% for child occupant protection, 72% for vulnerable road user (such as a pedestrian) protection and 75% for safety assist (which is all about the types and effectiveness of safety kit fitted that helps you avoid crashing in the first place). That's a strong score for a small car, making the Clio a safe bet in every sense.
Once you wrap all the above up in a smartly-styled supermini there is little doubt that the Clio will continue to be a strong seller for Renault. As with previous versions, however, it's likely that the Clio will lose value quickly making it a more appealing choice as a nearly-new or used car due to particularly low second-hand prices. Click the link below to check out the best used versions available now.
|5 years/100,000 miles
|£130 and £170 for the first year and £145 thereafter
|366 litres (diesel), 391 litres (petrol)
Best Renault Clio for...
Best for Economy – Renault Clio Blue dCi 85 Play
Offering an official combined economy figure of 67.2mpg this model is the most efficient, however this diesel Clio carries an initial purchase price premium, meaning it only makes sense for those who cover particularly high mileages and can recoup that premium in fuel savings. Those who would prefer a petrol or cover lower mileages are better off looking at Renault Clio Play TCe 100 models instead.
Best for Families – Renault Clio Iconic TCe 100
Whether it be a second car runaround or main family motor the Clio is worth considering. Iconic spec brings a good level of equipment while the more powerful TCe 100 engine is better suited than other options to hauling a family around.
One to Avoid – Renault Clio TCe 130 Auto (R.S. Line or S Edition)
Unless you absolutely have to have an automatic gearbox, we’d give TCe 130 auto cars a miss due to the premium Renault asks for models with two pedals. If you need an automatic you'll get much better value going for a used version instead.
1990 Mk1 Clio is launched
1993 high-performance Clio Williams model launched
1996 Mk1 Clio facelifted
1992 Mk2 Clio launched
1998 sporty Clio 172 Renault Sport arrives
2001 Mk2 Clio first facelift
2004 more powerful sporty Clio 182 arrives
2006 Mk2 Clio last facelift
2005 Mk3 Clio launched
2006 order books for a performance version of the Mk3 Clio open
2009 Mk3 Clio facelifted
2012 Mk4 Clio launched
2013 speedy Renault Sport version of the Mk4 arrives with an automatic gearbox
2019 Mk5 Clio launched
Understanding Renault Clio names
Play refers to the specification the Clio comes with. Play models are the entry-point to the range but still come with generous amounts of equipment, such as cruise control.
SCe refers to the engine used. SCe and TCe engines are petrol-powered - with TCe versions featuring power-boosting turbochargers - while dCi models are diesel-powered.
This SCe petrol engine produces 75hp, the Clio is also available with 100hp and 130hp petrol engines (badged TCe) and an 85hp diesel option (dCi).
As for gearboxes unless 'auto' is included in the model name a Clio should come with a manual transmission.
Renault Clio Engines
Petrol: SCe 75, TCe 100, TCe 130 Diesel: BlueHDi 85
Renault has sold previous versions with a range of impressive diesel engines and the Clio remains one of the few small cars available with diesel power, although there are three petrol units and only one diesel on offer here.
The SCe 75 petrol kicks off the range. This engine is 1.0-litre in size and comes with 72hp, offers economy of 52.3mpg and is solely available with a five-speed manual gearbox. At the same time, only entry-level Play and Iconic models can be specified with the SCe 75 unit.
Moving up the power stakes there is the TCe 100 unit. Again it is a 1.0-litre engine and only available with a five-speed manual, however, it packs 100hp thanks to a power-boosting turbocharger. Economy sits at 54.3mpg (i.e. higher than less powerful unit) and unlike every other engine the TCe 100 can be specified with all trims available.
Sitting at the top of the petrol-pile is the TCe 130 engine which is solely available with an automatic transmission. Economy is lower than the ‘100 (at 49.6mpg) but power comes in at 130hp. Sprinting from 0 to 62mph takes 9.0 seconds and top speed sits at 124mph – making it faster but less economical than the other Clios available at launch.
Renault’s only diesel offering is the Blue dCi 85, which might be slow (0 to 62mph takes 14.7 seconds) but it is very economical with a claimed figure of 67.2mpg. The diesel engine can be specified with all but the range-topping R.S. Line BOSE Edition trim levels.
TCe 130 (auto)
Blue dCi 85
Renault Clio Trims
Play, Iconic, S Edition, R.S. Line, R.S. Line Bose Edition
If you want an entry point to the Renault Clio range you will need to look at Play models powered by an SCe 75 engine. Standard equipment on Play variants includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, six airbags, three Isofix points for secure fitting of car seats (front passenger and outside rears), automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and cruise control with a speed limiter function.
Other standard equipment includes air-conditioning, heated electric door mirrors, electric front windows, 60:40 folding rear seats, a 4.2-inch digital drivers display, digital radio and Bluetooth.Next up are Iconic models which aesthetically differ minimally from Play models. The small changes include different design 16-inch alloy wheels, some chrome added to the front grille, front LED fog lights and tinted rear windows.
Inside, Iconic models feature a leather steering wheel and the odd dash of chrome around the cabin. In addition to this, parking sensors, keyless entry and a seven-inch touchscreen media system which includes sat-nav.
S Edition is the next trim up and turns the wick up a tad when it comes with sporty styling thanks to larger 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside Renault offers a grey-themed cabin and black fabric/velvet upholstery. Beyond that, climate control, automatic headlights, electric rear windows, a 9.3-inch touchscreen media system, seven-inch driver information display and rear parking camera are all thrown in for good measure.
Sitting at the top of the standard trims tree is R.S. Line spec. As R.S is shorthand for Renault’s performance division, it makes sense that R.S. Line models have sporty styling (but without any performance improvements).
In summary, the styling tweaks include 17-inch R.S. alloys, revised front bumper, gunmetal grey lower door protectors, gunmetal grey rear spoiler and oval chrome exhaust finisher. There are changes to the interior as well, including a leather steering wheel with perforated leather and red stitching, aluminium pedals, black seat belts with a red border, dark roof lining and R.S. Line upholstery featuring black/red striped fabric.
There is also an R.S. Line Bose Edition, which sets itself apart by having a - you guessed it - a Bose sound system.
Renault Clio Reliability and warranty
Renault has upped its warranty game as of late by boosting its standard warranty to five-years/100,000-mile (whichever comes first). This length of cover puts Renault ahead of makers such as Ford, which as standard offers a three-year/60,000-mile warranty.
As for reliability, Renault finished 19th in the Auto Express Driver Power ownership survey of best car manufacturers. While this sounds bad, the French car manufacturer still ranked ahead of Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Ford, Citroen, BMW and Mercedes.
Also, with Renault extending its warranty, you would imagine the company would be keen to improve reliability and build quality to avoid shelling out too much to customers in warranty claims. Whether this turns out to be true will remain to be seen.
Used Renault Clio
With Renault Clio deliveries only really taking off in early 2020, the used market will be predominantly made up of nearly-new or pre-registered models for a while before used versions filter through.
The previous generation Clio is still a good option though if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to a new model, with great value used models available. Read our used Renault Clio buyer's guide for all the details on the previous generation model.