The Renault Clio is one the best superminis you can buy. It’s great value for money, yet feels refreshingly sophisticated thanks to an interior that majors on quality and space. Most models are well equipped, and every Clio comes with a range of advanced safety features while the new hybrid model offers cheaper running costs. Read more on what the Renault Clio is like to live with in our long-term review.
The Renault Clio is good value for money compared with its key rivals. When you look at ownership costs for the most popular models they stack up favourably against the equivalent Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Volkswagen Polo. Not only is the Clio generally the cheapest to buy – it also offers the best fuel economy and is expected to cost less in depreciation.
With the option of petrol, diesel and a new hybrid version you can choose the best engine for your needs, though all are commendably efficient. Petrol versions are cheaper to buy, diesels return the best mpg while the hybrid offers the best of both with the refinement of the former and the fuel consumption of the latter. The hybrid’s low CO2 also means it’s cheaper to tax and on Benefit in Kind, the limited electric range helpful around town even if you can’t top up the battery by plugging it in. Its nearest hybrid rival is the Toyota Yaris, which is a little sharper to drive but can’t match the Clio for cabin plushness or ride quality.
There’s no full electric version as Peugeot offers with its e-208, but if you want a small, electric Renault there is of course the excellent Zoe instead.
Expert rating: 5/5
Reliability of a Renault Clio
The Clio has a pretty respectable score in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, and Renault doesn’t do badly in the manufacturer standings, either. The French firm doesn’t rank so highly in JD Power’s UK Vehicle Dependability Survey, however, where it ranks behind the industry average for the reliability of its cars, and has done for the past few years.
Auto Trader owner reviews of the outgoing model on paint a rather more positive picture of life with the Clio, with only a few dissatisfied customers among many much happier ones.
Expert rating: 3/5
Safety for a Renault Clio
The Renault Clio has been tested by Euro NCAP and not only did it achieve the maximum five-star rating, it also clocked up one of the highest overall scores in its class. All cars have an six airbags, traffic sign recognition and an automatic emergency braking system that recognises cyclists and pedestrians. You also get a lane-departure warning system that can also help steer you out of danger, which is quite unusual for the class.
An optional safety pack that features active cruise that can keep you centred in your lane on the motorway is currently an option for one specific model.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Renault Clio
In many ways, the Renault Clio feels like a larger car than it actually is. In a good way.
For starters, the boot is one of the largest and most practical in the class, even if there’s an unhelpfully large drop from the load entrance to the boot floor. The cabin is roomier than many rivals’, too, with particularly generous headroom and legroom in the front. Rear legroom is average for the class, while rear headroom is fine, if a little tight for those over six foot. An unusually wide rear seat makes things feel spacious, although the rising window line means that smaller children may struggle to see out.
Interior quality is very good, and in this respect the Clio feels like a classier car than rivals such as the Ford Fiesta. The cheapest versions have a more basic infotainment system that’s very easy to use – those higher up the range have a larger touch-screen-based system that looks great but takes a bit of getting used to.
While the Clio isn’t as much fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta, or quite as comfortable as a Volkswagen Polo, it feels pleasantly grown up for a small car and requires little effort to drive.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Renault Clio
Standard equipment for the Clio is pretty much what you expect of the class. The cheapest versions have the basics, but miss out on some of the nice-to-have features that many of us now expect. Air-conditioning, cruise control, DAB radio and electrically folding door mirrors are included, as are full LED headlights. You need to move up a trim level to add a touch-screen infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, however, as well as alloy wheels. You also get keyless entry, rear parking sensors and some cosmetic upgrades inside and out, so at this level the Clio is quite well equipped for a small car.
Higher-spec models gain more big-car equipment, such as a rear-view camera, climate control and a more sophisticated driver display. Option packs allow you to add all kinds of luxury kit, or to personalise the look of your Clio to your own taste.
Expert rating: 3/5
Power for a Renault Clio
The Clio is available with a choice of three petrol engines. The first is a three-cylinder 1.0-litre with 72 horsepower, which is not a lot of power, even for a small car. You’re better off with the turbocharged version of the same engine, which give you 100 horsepower and feels eager, even at low revs. Unlike the lower-powered version, this engine also gives you the option of a CVT automatic gearbox.
For now, the quickest regular Clio comes with a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol that gives you 130 horsepower and an automatic gearbox as standard. The single diesel option is a 1.5-litre with 85 horsepower that majors on fuel economy rather than strong performance.
The new hybrid version has 140 horsepower from its combination of a 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor, coming as standard with an automatic gearbox and cleverly switching between its two power sources (or a combination of both) for a driving experience that’s both punchy and refined. You can’t plug it in so the electric-only range is limited to short distances at town speeds; using the ‘B’ mode on the gearbox or Eco driver mode increases your battery regeneration under braking to maximise your opportunities to do so.