The new Renault Clio is now a 145bhp hybrid supermini | Top Gear
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The new Renault Clio is now a 145bhp hybrid supermini

E-Tech drivetrain is now standard-fit across the refreshed Clio range. Yours from £22k+

Published: 18 Apr 2023
 

In a reasonably literal sense, here is the facelifted Renault Clio. The front-end makeover is pretty striking. The rest… less so. Never mind, we liked the Clio a lot anyway.

Inside there's a new set of displays of course. Because if you're talking displays, staying still is basically going backwards. So it now has a fully digital instrument pod, and higher-resolution 7-inch or 9-inch central touchscreens.

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The reshaped front end carries Renault's new logo, in a grille that fades lighter to the edges to give it a 3D domed effect. The running lights are the shape of the logo in a left-to-right flip. In the back, there's a new bumper, and clear covers for the tail-lights.

Design boss Gilles Vidal says it's a 'bold' decision to have such an angular front end with the soft shapes of the existing sheetmetal. Of course it also saves money. But apparently the dealers have said it looks like a fully new car; the face has a huge influence on how people perceive a car.

The other change is a loss of choice. The pure-petrol engine has gone. Every new Clio in Britain from now on is propelled by Renault's clever E-Tech full-hybrid system, in 145bhp form.

In traffic and suburban running around, it saves a good proportion of fuel. It also means quieter running and more power. The figures are good: a single-digit number of seconds for the 0-62, and a double-digit number of grammes of CO2 per km. Or for those who dislike cutesy numerical expressions, sub-10sec and sub-100g.

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Which is all very well, but the additional cost of hybrid means Renault is another manufacturer giving the finger to anyone wanting a sub-£20k supermini. The entry price has gone up to about £22k. It's going to be hard to recoup the cost of the hybrid system, because a petrol Clio was pretty economical anyway.

Still, it's less than the price of the hybrid-only Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz. And company car tax is low. Besides which any hybrid system means in effect a free auto transmission, which is nice if you drive a lot in cities. As many supermini owners do.

Last year, when there was also the choice of pure-petrol, the hybrid accounted for just 40 per cent of Clios sold in the UK. Which means Renault is braced for Clio sales to drop by more than half.

Brave. The reason is Renault wants to be known as a brand rooted deeply in electric and electrified technology. So it's prepared to take a sales hit until more EVs and hybrids come on stream. Those include the hybrid Austral and electric Scenic.

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When it arrives in the UK in September, the new Clio comes in three trim levels. None of them have any options except paint. Base Evolution has a plainer front spoiler, and the 7-inch touchscreen. Next up is Techno.

Finally Esprit Alpine is the name for the sporty trim, replacing the old RS Line as Renault seeks to leverage the brand of its racing and sports-car subsidiary. Esprit Alpine versions get the front aero blade in these pictures, the bigger wheels, and the sports seats inside.

Extra equipment in the Esprit Alpine includes adaptive cruise control and blind-spot warning. Both are new to the Clio, but they'll be useful as it always was a decent motorway car.

Also new is a wireless charge pad, and the ability to do phone mirroring without the cable tangle.

The seats use a fabric called modal, which is made from wood cellulose with renewable energy, so they're generally more planet-friendly than your usual car interiors made from petrochemicals.

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