Renault Clio 1.2 car review
Friday 31 August 2007
Ten Point Test
Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 82%
The Renault Clio has been a smash hit with hatchback buyers. More than 13 million Clios have been built since 1991, and it consistently ranks in the top ten most searched-for used cars on autotrader.co.uk.
So all the more reason for Renault to make this, the Clio III, even better than its predecessors. And with Renault investing £634 million in it, it has plenty to lose.
Can the latest Clio maintain its position at the top of the supermini tree? We spent a week and 500 miles with one to find out.
1. Looks 8/10
The baby Renault is all grown up. It’s bigger in almost every way than the Clio II, but it hides its added girth very well. The front is dominated by a pair of headlights which sweep along the wings, while a huge diamond-shaped badge leaves other road users in no doubt this is the new Clio. The rear has a similarly-shaped pair of rear lights, which are reminiscent of the Audi A3’s lights. We tested the sporty Dynamique S, which also counts 16-inch multispoke alloys and dark tinted rear windows among its exterior features.
2. Looks inside 8/10
The interior is undeniably Clio, but has been vastly improved over previous generations. The dials are clear and easy to read, despite the intense red illuminations, and the controls for the climate control are intuitively laid out. The Clio has an information display on top of the dashboard which provides the time, outside temperature and radio station. We particularly liked the chunky surrounds and dials around the air vents – a nice, subtle piece of design work. The seats in our Dynamic S were finished in a handsome fabric which had subtle shades of red and blue woven in. If there’s one annoyance with the Clio’s cabin, it’s the radio which was fiddly to use and lacked punch.
3. Practicality 8/10
One of the main criticisms of the previous Clio was the driving position. The steering wheel would only adjust for height and the seats were soft; making it uncomfortable particularly for taller drivers. Thankfully, Renault has worked hard on the new model, and it proved to be a comfy companion during our 500-mile loan. The only problem we found was limited lateral support, giving a feeling of sliding out of the seat when cornering at moderate-to-fast speeds. There’s plenty of space for occupants front and rear, and access to the rear seats was good in our three-door test car. The 288-litre capacity boot is on a par with many of its rivals, and it rises to 1,028 litres with the seats folded – enough for most load carrying journeys.
4. Ride and Handling 9/10
Renault has built one of the best handling superminis on the market. The steering offers plenty of feedback, and is light enough at low speeds to make urban driving easy. On a winding road, the steering gets heavier providing resistance allowing the driver the to ‘feel’ the road. The suspension is soft enough to be comfortable, but not too much to make fast turns feel like a leap of faith. It’s almost as though the Clio wants you to drive fast, because it can take it all in its stride. Only a little too much body roll tainted the otherwise excellent drive.
5. Performance 9/10
The 1.2 turbocharged engine installed in our test car is an odd configuration, but was a revelation. A 0-62mph time of 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 112mph are only slightly slower than the thirstier and more polluting 1.6-litre engine’d Clio. With its turbocharger, the Clio offers 107lb/ft of pulling power, but it feels like much more. That’s because the engine reaches its peak of pulling power at 3,000rpm, rather than the 4,250rpm of the 1.6. All this means the Clio pulls hard through the gears and is an admirable performer at motorway speeds.
6. Running Costs 8/10
The Clio, for the most part, is a cheap car to buy, and very cheap to run. Insurance starts at group 2, making it ideal for first-time drivers, rising to 10 for the top spec models, and 15 for the hot 197 RenaultSport models.Most models can return good fuel consumption figures too. Renault quotes an average figure of 47.9mpg for our 1.2 TCE-equipped model, although our week-long commute consisting of fast A-roads and torturous London rush hour traffic saw that dip to around 35mpg. Road tax for our test car falls into band C, which currently costs £115 a year. Residual values are reasonable too, largely thanks to massive demand for used examples.
7. Reliability 8/10
The Clio we tested felt well built, with tactile materials in the cabin and solid-fitting trim out. The only exception was some fraying on the drivers’ seat back. To date there are no anecdotal reoccurring problems and many of the car’s components are proven. The Clio scores well in the Reliability Index for the cheapness and rarity of breakdowns.
8. Safety 9/10
The Renault Clio scored a maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests thanks to six airbags on all but the most basic models. All Clios have ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and electronic stability control as standard.
9. Equipment 7/10
All models receive remote central locking and a CD player, while all but the entry level vehicle features alloy wheels and electric front windows. Further up the range, air-con, ’see me home’ headlamps, a bodykit, sidelights which illuminate while turning and sports upholstery can be had as standard depending on which of the huge amount of models are specified.
10. X-Factor 8/10
It’s one of the UK’s favourite superminis; and with good reason. It blends good looks with great driving dynamics and low running costs – and this, the third generation is roomier and more refined than ever.
Model tested: Renault Clio 1.2 Dynamique S 1.2 Turbo 100 TCE 3-door
On the road price: £11,365
Price range: £7,485 – £17,250
Date tested: August 2007
Road tester: Stuart Milne