Renault Clio (2013-2019) Review
The Renault Clio is striking and strong value used, but rivals drive better, offer slicker in-car tech and a broader range of engines
Strengths & weaknesses
- Strong value second-hand
- Reasonably comfortable and refined
- Efficient petrol and diesel engines
- Interior quality not the best
- Back seats could be roomier
- Loses value quickly
Renault Clio prices from £6,558 Finance from £150.99 per month
The Renault Clio is a simple and affordable small car that fights against super-popular small cars such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo, to name a few. Around in a number of different incarnations since 1991, the Clio is a comfort-focused supermini that offers plenty of standard equipment and strong value for money.
This version features striking styling that you may love or hate, but it's distinctive, unlike some small cars. It also comes with a number of petrol engines, plus several economical diesel engines. Diesel power may have fallen out of favour, but if you cover many miles and want the most economical option, a diesel Clio is well worth considering.
Updated in 2016 the Clio gained redesigned styling at the front, a more upmarket interior, improved in-car tech, plus a new diesel engine. Keep reading to find out whether the Renault Clio is the car for you.
|Four years/100,000 miles
|Tax (from second year)
Best Renault Clio for...
Best for Economy – Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 ECO Play
The frugal ‘ECO’ version of the 1.5-litre dCi engine can return more than 88mpg according to official fuel economy tests and is exempt from CO2 emissions-based road tax (for models registered before April 2017). As with many economy-centric models, don't expect to get close to this figure with everyday driving.
Best for Families – Renault Clio 0.9 TCE 90 ECO Play
We think moving up to Play from the entry-level Expression is a must for family buyers, as its standard air-conditioning will make things much more comfortable inside for all occupants. This version also gives you the choice of more efficient engines to keep running costs down.
Best for Performance – Renault Clio 1.2 TCE 120 Dynamique S Nav
The Clio Renault Sport Nav 220 Trophy is without doubt the quickest Clio but is not covered here. GT Line trim, echoes the look of high-performance Renault Sport cars but without their power and high running costs. In the middle of the Clio's time on sale it was the 1.2 TCe 120 Dynamique S Nav version that offered the greatest performance, accelerating from 0-62mph in a reasonably nippy 9.0 seconds, with the automatic version taking 9.2 seconds.
One to Avoid – Renault Clio 1.2 16v Expression
The entry-level Clio Expression has no air-conditioning and the 1.2-litre 16v engine is pretty lacklustre, neither offering much in the way of performance or the best economy, so you should only go for this version if you simply can’t afford one of the others.
The Renault Clio has been a simple yet great-value small car since the first version arrived in 1991. This previous-generation version is no different. It added bolder styling and a more modern interior to the recipe.
It faces stiff competition in the form of established names like the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Polo, SEAT Leon, Skoda Fabia, Peugeot 208 and Kia Rio, but still manages to stand out from the crowd with distinctive styling, inside and out. It's not pretty, but it's not boring either.
A facelift in 2016 brought a redesigned nose and headlights, a slightly better quality interior, updated technology and a new diesel engine. However, the arrival of new and improved Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Citroen C3 models means that the Clio is far from a default small car choice.
For example, its interior might look striking but the layout is flawed with irritating details such as a starter button that's way out of reach on the bottom left of the centre console and interior quality is not as good as in the Fiesta, let alone the VW Polo. There are also some lingering concerns about the Clio’s long-term reliability reflected in its low ranking in the Auto Express Driver Power ownership satisfaction survey, too.
Despite improvements in 2016, nothing was done to improve the Clio's ride over bumps where it can be a little bouncy and short of the best of its rivals such as the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta. Its steering isn't particularly sharp or responsive either, which can make the Clio feel lazy and makes it difficult to take corners precisely. Meanwhile, the gearbox and the clutch take some getting used to, so the Clio isn't as easy to drive as an equivalent Skoda Fabia or Ford Fiesta.
This version of the Clio is only available as a five-door hatchback, but some clever design work and door handles that blend into the body mean you could easily mistake it for a stylish three-door. Sadly, the byproduct of this are enormous rear pillars that create huge blindspots when driving. Pulling out of parking spaces at the side of the road and changing lane, therefore, are much more difficult than they should be in a car of this size.
A variety of engines and trim levels mean there’s a Clio to suit most needs and budgets, from the basic Expression 1.2 to the well-appointed and economical Signature Nav dCi 110. There’s also a speedy hot hatch version called the Renault Sport Nav 220 Trophy, for those who want a more engaging drive, though oddly for a small hatchback, this is only available with an automatic gearbox.
Renault Clio History
2013 The current generation of the Renault Clio goes on sale
June 2013: High-spec GT-Line model with sportier looks is added to line-up
October 2013: EDC (‘Efficient Dual Clutch’) automatic gearbox arrives
August 2014: Recall of more than 20,000 Nov 12-Jul 14 Clios for a potential braking problem
April 2015: Recall of 383 Apr 13-Apr 14 Clios for a potential fuel leak
July 2015: Recall of nearly 50,000 Mar 13-Apr 14 Clios for potential braking issue
November 2015: Specification upgrades – all but entry-level now have DAB radio
November 2015: Special-edition Iconic 25 Nav model added to range
September 2016 Updated Renault Clio with improved interior and new engines goes on sale
Late 2019 Overhauled new Clio goes on sale and outgoing car is phased out
Understanding Renault Clio names
Engine 0.9 TCe 90 ECO
Renault Clio model names start with the engine size in litres (here it's 0.9). Bigger engines aren't always more powerful - as some smaller engines feature power-boosting turbochargers and as a result offer greater power than bigger ones that don't - so the power output is also included here: 90 horsepower. Turbocharged petrol engines are badged TCe and diesels can be identified by their dCi badge. ECO is the designation Renault gives to the most economical Clios.
Trim level Dynamique Nav
The amount of standard equipment on your Clio will depend on its trim level. They start at Expression, running through Play and Dynamique Nav to the top level, Dynamique S Nav. Renault has since updated the trim levels on offer, with affordable Play, mid-level Iconic and sporty GT Line versions available on newer Clios.
Renault Clio Engines
Petrol: 1.2 16v, 0.9 Energy TCe 90, 1.2 Energy TCe 120 Diesel: 1.5 dCi 90, 1.5 dCi 100
If you want to spend as little money as possible on your Clio, you’ll need to go for the 1.2-litre 16v petrol engine. But it’s a bit of a false economy, as it’s much less efficient than the newer small turbocharged engines in the range and also less satisfying to drive. It’ll only manage just over 50mpg in fuel economy terms and takes a lazy 14.5 seconds to get from 0-62mph. Consequently, you have to work the engine hard when accelerating, which further increases how much fuel you'll get through.
We think the 0.9-litre TCe petrol engine is a much better bet. Don’t be fooled by its tiny capacity: it’s a pretty eager performer and well matched to the Clio’s character. If you crave more power there’s a larger and more powerful 1.2-litre TCe petrol that is less economical but usefully quicker.
Diesel drivers are catered for by the familiar 1.5-litre dCi 90 engine. In especially frugal ‘ECO’ form, it's claimed to be capable of up to 88.3mpg, but even the cheaper regular version can top 85mpg if you drive it very gently. It’s as quick as the turbocharged petrol, too, so makes a good choice if you do a lot of motorway driving or regularly exceed 20,000 miles a year. You're better off sticking to one of the cheaper, more refined turbocharged petrol engines if you don't do high mileages, however.
The facelift brought a second, more powerful diesel engine in the shape of the dCi 110 that’s not much less economical but a little faster. It’s also stronger at low engine speeds so is more relaxed at cruising speeds and pulls better when the car is heavily loaded.
0-62mph: 14.5 secs
0.9 Energy TCe 90
0-62mph: 12.2 secs
0-62mph: 9.0 secs
1.5 dCi 90
85.6 - 88.3mpg
0-62mph: 12.0 - 12.9 secs
109 - 112mph
0-62mph: 11.2 secs
Renault Clio Trims
Expression, Play, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, Signature Nav
Like most superminis and small family cars, the Clio has a fairly basic entry-level version to tempt buyers in with a low purchase price, called the Clio Expression.
Although it features cruise control, a digital radio, Bluetooth hands-free calls, a smartphone-based sat-nav system and a height-adjustable driver’s seat, the Expression has two major drawbacks. Firstly, it’s only available with the basic 1.2-litre petrol engine, which is comparatively inefficient and slow. And secondly, it doesn’t come with air-conditioning (not even as an option), so you’ll get a bit sweaty on a hot summer’s day.
That’s why we prefer the Play, which is about £1,500 more than the Expression (more if you choose one of the better petrol or diesel engines, which we would recommend). For the extra cash, you get air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels and front foglights. Expect a smaller difference in cost as used Clios get older and drop in price.
If you like your in-car toys, you’ll probably want to move up another grade to the Dynamique Nav – a price jump of about £1,000, again reducing as the car gets older. This has a better stereo system than the Expression and Play with integrated sat-nav, as well as soft-touch dashboard material and a synthetic leather steering wheel, plus gloss-black and chrome exterior trim detailing.
Better equipped again (but rather expensive) is the Dynamique S Nav. On top of all the Dynamique Nav’s kit, it features automatic climate control, a central armrest, rear electric windows, 17-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors and heated power-folding door mirrors.
Finally, there’s the Signature Nav which has a more sophisticated TomTom-based sat-nav system, parking sensors all around with reversing camera, hands-free parking and part-leather seats.
At the end of the Clio's life only Play, Iconic and GT Line models were available, with the former providing low costs and a basic level of equipment, Iconic versions adding a few more toys for a slightly higher price and GT Line gaining a sporty look and feel.
Renault Clio Reliability and warranty
French cars in general and Renaults in particular used to have a pretty dismal reputation for reliability, and while things have definitely improved these days, it’s evident that there’s still some room for improvement. This current Clio was rated 114th out of the top 200 cars for reliability by owners in Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. Its build quality result was even less impressive – 145th out of 200. On the plus side, Renault does offer a reasonably long four years' or 100,000 miles of warranty cover, so you’re covered for a long time if something does go wrong.
Used Renault Clio
There's no two ways about it – the Clio doesn’t hold its value very well on the used market. This is partly due to Renault’s lingering reputation for making somewhat fragile and unreliable cars and partly due to the fact that the Clio isn’t considered as prestigious or desirable as a Volkswagen Polo. While this means that those who purchase a new Clio lose a large proportion of the car's price if they sell it on after a few years, it's great news if you're looking to buy a nearly new or used Clio, as prices are surprisingly low.
There’s definitely value in low-mileage one or two-year-old examples. You can pick up a well-specced Clio for around two-thirds of its original asking price – or close to half if you stretch to a three-year-old car. Prices should fall further as the new model gets more established, so there should be some bargains to be found.
Many used Clios will have some warranty cover left, too, thanks to the substantial four-year/100,000-mile limit. Look out for the ‘ECO’ badge (on both petrols and diesels), as these Clios come with special features such as low-resistance tyres and better aerodynamics to improve economy and thus reduce running costs. Be aware, however, that subsequent owners may fit any old tyres when they need changing, so used ECO models may not be as economical as you might expect.