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Renault Clio

£11,090£21,595
7/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Real transformation over the old car that’s now a match for the Fiesta

Against: 

A bit harder to get in and see out of, plastics can't match a Polo
Cheery and characterful, the new Clio is a genuinely appealing supermini.

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Our choice

Renault

0.9 TCE 90 ECO Dynamique MediaNav Energy 5dr

£14,870
N/A
66mpg
12.20s
90bhp
99g/km

What we say: 

Renault has rediscovered its form with a loveable car in a class that lacks them

What is it?

Renault appears to have at last remembered why people buy its small cars: their styling. The new Clio 4 is thus as fresh and interesting as the old one was forgettable and dreary. The firm’s known this for a while, which is why it bought in new designer Laurens van den Acker to overhaul its styling department – the Clio 4 is the first car he’s designed from scratch.

Look closely, too. Spot the rear doors? Thought not: they’ve been cleverly disguised, so much so that Renault is only selling the Clio 4 in five-door guise. With its low roof line, sculpted tail and shallow side glass, the firm is hoping styling indeed sells – but it’s thrown new engines and new interior features at it too, so the substance is also there.

Driving

An aged 1.2-litre engine opens the batting for the Clio but it’s the 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo that’s more interesting. Designed for economy, forced induction means it’s still nippy enough in town and sounds sweet when worked hard in the country. Just don’t expect big car performance on the open road. For that, you’ll need the forthcoming 120bhp 1.2-litre turbo. Renault’s also revised the familiar 1.5-litre dCi diesel, which is a fine alternative if you can afford it. 

Pleasingly, Renault has also remembered something else that used to make its superminis great – how they handled. This steers keenly, doesn’t fall into understeer and lets you feel what the back wheels are up to near the limit. It’s all nicely interactive and although the body does also roll a bit too, the pay-off here is soft and supple suspension, another old-style Renault trait that’s most welcome.

On the inside

As with the outside, Renault’s styled a cheery interior that looks much more interesting and better quality than before. The latter is partly an illusion as the plastics are a bit hard and hollow, but the sheer amount of equipment helps you overlook this. On half the range, there’s even a touchscreen tablet in the middle of the dash, which will eventually offer downloadable apps.

It’s a roomy enough interior too. The styling does mean rear headroom isn’t what it was, and visibility is a bit compromised, but most will think it’s worth it. Also, while the boot is a bit awkward to load, there’s no arguing with its 300 litres of space.

Owning

To the promise of class-leading safety and entertainment gadgetry, Renault is also bigging up the Clio’s sheer value. All get six airbags, ESP, Bluetooth and keyless go, with the best-selling Dynamic MediaNav getting, yes, sat nav. The TCe 90 does 65.7mpg, the dCi does up to 88.3mpg and Renault reckons it’s cheaper than today’s car despite all the extra kit. Va va boom.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.6T 16V RenaultSport Trophy Nav 220 5dr Auto
6.6s 135g/km 47.9 220 £21,595
The cheapest
1.2 16V Expression 5dr
14.5s 127g/km 51.4 75 £11,090
The greenest
1.5 dCi 90 ECO Dynamique Nav 5dr
12.0s 84g/km 88.3 90 £16,170

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

5/10

Alfa Romeo MiTo

£12,705£20,245
The new Clio goes all out on looks: surprisingly rare in this sector. So look to the Alfa MiTo as an alternative and ignore its lack of rear doors