Europe's Best-Selling Supermini Got Better.
A full review of the Renault Clio Iconic.
This review was written almost six months ago, so optional extras, specifications, and pricing may have changed slightly.
The Clio is one of the most recognisable names in the automotive world. Especially across Europe, where it’s been Europe’s best-selling supermini since 2013. Now, after 30 years of production, here is the fifth-generation model, and it’s all-new. From a shared platform called CMF-B, it gives the Clio more tech and room, even though it’s 22kg light than before. It’s also safer, too, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating.
From the outside you’ll notice the Clio has changed slightly, but not dramatically. It seems the new look is more of a massive facelift than anything. You can see the resembling areas where it’s predecessor’s peeking through the design. The front headlights look more squashed and they make me think the cars wearing a pair of headsets. The tail lights, again, arguably they look more squashed, too. It still has the subtle iconic features like the chrome side body moulding door protectors, rear door handles embedded into the C-pillar and it’s still wearing a big Renault badge on its nose. But don’t get me wrong, the new design is a massive improvement from before.
The new Clio is only a tad wider and lower than the previous generation. It’s also 12mm shorter, with a 6mm shorter wheelbase and 6mm fall in height. Renault have still managed to make it look bigger and feel roomier inside, which you really notice at the front.
The Clio gets five trim levels, Play, Iconic, S Edition, R.S. Line, and R.S. Line Bose Edition. The entry level Play, starting at £15,295 gets a reasonable amount of features as standard. There’s LED headlights, auto-folding mirrors, cruise control, speed limiter, automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist. While the R.S. Line which is the most expensive, starts at £18,295.
On the road, the Clio feels well-built and can feel fun. It has good feedback from steering, although it doesn’t lean much in tight bends. But you feel a decent amount of grip from each corner. Comparing the Clio to its predecessor, the ride has certainly improved. But compared to its main rivals, it’s not as fun to drive overall. The clutch and gearbox feel good and easy to live with, and the high mounted gear stick position works well.
You can get the Renault with a choice of one diesel and three petrol engines. Kicking off with the SCe 75, a 1.0-litre three-cylinder 75bhp, which is best to use for around town. There’s a TCe 100, which is the same 1.0-litre, but with 99bhp. A 1.3-litre TCe 130 which pushes out 128bhp from a seven-speed automatic, but it isn’t available with a manual box. A 1.6-litre E-TECH hybrid 140 which produces 138bhp, again, only available with the auto box. Lastly, the 1.5-litre diesel dCi 85, pushing out 84bhp which Renault claims it will reach almost 80mpg.
I tested the TCe 100, which is the engine I’d recommend. It has a decent amount of power for most driving conditions and is reasonably economical, getting around 50mpg. It’s 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds and a top speed of 116mph, along with 118lb-ft.
The inside is where the Clio feels new. It has improved astonishingly and no longer feels cheap, out-dated and plastic-ey. There are comfier seats, rotary knobs for the heating and air conditioning. The cruise control and speed limiter are now on the steering wheel controls, opposed to the centre console next to the handbrake on the previous generation.
On the dashboard there’s a 7-inch infotainment touch screen with DAB, Bluetooth, USB, Aux, Sat Nav, and it works with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You can upgrade to a 9.3-inch portrait screen, too. There’s a lot of attention to detail inside, with some brushed bezel trims, a better instrument cluster with a digital screen and some piano-type buttons for driving functions and controls. If you play around with the instrument cluster screen, you’ll find a horsepower and torque gauge. I can imagine a lot of young drivers are going to enjoy playing with that gauge on the road. Well, I certainly did.
You can get extras that include a Bose sound system and there’s some interior and exterior colour packs, giving the car a unique look. The boot gets 391-litres with help from a relatively deep floor, which is bigger than the Fiesta and Ibiza. After the rear seats are flattened down, 1,069-litres is free to use up.
There’s no doubt the new Clio has improved an awful lot. It’s not a complete game changer, but it’s certainly not bad. It’s a shame Renault haven’t done more with the styling on the exterior, as they have with the interior. But nevertheless, it’s certainly grown-up.