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The Top Gear car review: Renault Clio
For:Engaging, upmarket interior with big-car optional gadgets. As long as you spec it correctly.
Against:Not a huge revolution in terms of styling, not the most exciting car to drive. Yet.
What is it?
Mark five and almost 30 years of Renault Clio, is what it is. Yes, v1.0 of Renault’s supermini was launched way back in 1990, and if Nicole and Papa ring any bells, then you’re old enough to know better. What we have here is definitely a new, new Clio though, spun from a shared platform called CMF-B (Common Module Family -B), the use of which is said to deliver improvements in space, safety, weight saving and tech. Which it does, but more of that in a minute.
Outside it’s shorter than before - though the 12mm reduction in length isn’t all that obvious - a touch wider and lower, but with more space, load capacity and general volume inside. Noticeably more space, in fact, and it feels more capacious up front, though the rising windowline makes it a little less airy stuffed in the back. There are LED headlights across the range, Renault citing safety benefits, and ‘C’-shaped daylight running lights. There are sharper creases, bonnet feature lines, the usual Clio hidden rear doorhandles up in the C-pillar, a big Renault badge in the front grille, some nice horizontal lines that widen the car visually. It’s all very clean and crisp, without being particularly scary or revolutionary. If Laurens van den Acker’s (Senior VP, Corporate Design at Renault) intent was to clean up a MkIV Clio, then the brief has been exceeded. But that was exactly the brief: the Clio has been Europe’s best-selling B-segment supermini since 2013, so any scary external revolution really wasn’t on the cards - this is still a familiar Clio, tidied up and made contemporary.
And there are some really decent changes, including a leaps-and-bounds better interior (see ‘On the inside’) and new engines. We’ll get a very clever E-Tech hybrid in 2020, but for the moment there’s a choice of four ICE motors: a pair of 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrols (Sce 75 and TCe 100) with 70 and 98bhp respectively, a warm-ish 1.3-litre TCe 130 four-cylinder petrol with - you guessed it, 130PS (128bhp) - and a 1.5 Blue dCi 85 four-cylinder diesel with 83bhp. The lower-engined petrol variants get a five-speed manual, the diesel a six, and the faster one a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The trims are Play, Iconic and R.S.Line, the latter a nod to the sportier Renaults, the others variations of kit. It’s a handsome enough, decently-sized supermini, that’s more efficient and a bit cleverer than before. Good.