Renault Clio hatchback (2019 - ) review
The Clio is Renault’s small, supermini-sized hatchback, and that means it competes with countless rivals including the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 208, Seat Ibiza and Toyota Yaris, to name but a few.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
Supermini buyers are already a spoiled lot, with some really excellent cars on offer, but the Renault Clio deserves comparison with the best of them. It offers something a little different in the class thanks to its chic, distinctive styling, while its appealing interior, roomy cabin and comfortable ride will also win it fans. It’s keenly priced and well specced, which means we can see the Clio being very appealing to a very large number of small car buyers.
- Stylish and distinctive to look at
- Comfortable ride
- Feels good for quality
- Boot isn’t the most useable shape
- Not the clearest rear visibility
- Dark in the back seats
Interested in buying a Renault Clio?
How good does it look?
In a marketplace that’s as crowded as the supermini one that the Clio competes in, styling is an obvious way to make your car stand out. And while many rivals opt for a rather conservative approach, the Clio adopts a more Gallic, flamboyant one. The C-shaped headlamp units have become a Renault trademark and look fab, while the rest of the bodywork has creases, bulges and curves in all the right places.
The looks of the car will change depending on which of the four trim levels you select. The entry-level Clio play boasts full LED headlights and 16-inch wheels, while the Iconic model adds rear parking sensors and 16-inch alloy wheels, as well as LED front fog lamps and dark tinted rear windows. The S Edition rides on 17-inch alloys and adds a shark fin antenna to the roof, rather than a traditional aerial, and the RS Line model takes some visual cues from Renault’s RS hot hatches, with a sporty bodykit, front parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
What's the interior like?
This is an area in which the latest Clio really needed to up it’s game in comparison to the last one, and thankfully, it’s delivered. The interior design is quirky and individual, with a good mix of textures, finishes and colours to keep things interesting. Most of the materials look and feel pretty plush, too. It can’t match a VW Polo for classiness perhaps, but it has the measure of a Ford Fiesta and plenty of other small hatchback rivals. All the cars we tried were fitted with a large 9.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s standard of higher-grade cars but optional on the more humble ones, and it looks reasonably hi-tech. It’ll take a few minutes of poking around before you get used to how it works, but you’ll get there eventually, and it’s ultimately a lot more intuitive than previous Renault systems, even if the system’s reactions and screen transitions could be quicker to load. The driving position has lots of adjustment to help you get comfy, and you get a good forward view, but your rearward visibility is rather hampered by a small back window and thick rear pillars.
How practical is it?
It almost always follows that a new car is bigger than the one it replaces, but that’s a trend that the Clio happily bucks; the new car is actually slightly shorter than the previous one. Regardless, there’s still plenty of room in it, enough for a lanky six-foot-plus passenger to sit comfortably in the back behind a similarly-sized driver. The wide middle seat also helps make things comfier when carrying three in the back, although things will still be very snug due to the limited width of the cabin. Also, the car’s high window line and small rear windows make things pretty dark and gloomy in the back, and will also mean that young kids might struggle to see out.
Boot space is given at 391 litres, a figure that ranks among the best-in-class. Bear in mind, though, that the space is shorter and deeper than in many rivals, giving you less floor space and a significant lip that you’ll need to haul heavy items over. This lip is still present even when you install the false floor, although it does level out the step in the loadbay when you fold the rear seats down. The backrests still lie at an angle, though, leaving a slope in the floor of the extended load area.
What's it like to drive?
As a chic and stylish way of getting around town, the Clio takes some beating. The pedals are nice and light, the steering’s pretty direct and, although the manual gearshift is a bit mushy, it’s a pleasantly easy thing to pootle along in. It’s comfy as well, doing a pretty good job isolating you from the effects of a scruffy road surface, and that’s the case whether you’re crawling through town or blatting along the motorway. Yes, the payoff for this comfort is handling that’s a tiny bit roly-poly, so it’s not as sharp in the corners as some rival superminis. The steering could offer more information and involvement, too, but it still feels tidy and controlled on bendy roads.
How powerful is it?
The Clio comes with a choice of three petrol engines. The first is a three-cylinder 1.0-litre unit with 72 horsepower, which we haven’t yet tried, but we have had a go in a turbocharged version of the same engine that delivers 100 horsepower. It feels sparky and eager even when the revs are low, so it always feels ready, willing and able when you need to pick up the pace. There’s also a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo engine that has the same perky nature, and with 130 horsepower, it’s a bit quicker, too. However, we reckon the mid-range engine will still be muscular enough for most buyers. Another thing that might swing your choice between the two engines is gearbox availability. The 100 comes with a (notchy and rather inaccurate) five-speed manual, while the 130 has a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, which is smoother and slicker, but also more expensive. Both engines also do really well for noise; even the three-cylinder one has to be worked to its very limits before it starts to get noisy. You will hear a lot more in the way of road noise, though, even at moderate speeds, and you’ll also hear the wind licking at the door seals at motorway speeds. A single diesel option is available, a 1.5 with 85 horsepower, but this is another engine that we’re yet to try.
How much will it cost me?
The purchase price for the Clio looks to be very competitive with the competition. Resale values - which are the single most significant factor in your long-term running costs - are a mystery at the moment though, so there’s no way of knowing how much owning the Clio will cost you in comparison to rivals. The impressive official fuel economy figures will help on that score, though, as will the low CO2 emissions that will help keep tax bills down.
How reliable is it?
Reports are a little mixed here. 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, where it ranks behind the industry average for the reliability of its cars, and has done for the last few years. Our owner reviews paint a rather more positive picture of life with the Clio, with only a few dissatisfied customers among many much happier ones. Renault gives you a two-year/unlimited-mileage warranty as standard, and you also get a third year limited up to 60,000 miles.
How safe is it?
The latest Clio has already 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 will have automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning, along with a shedload of airbags to help keep you safe in a smash. A Driving Assistant Pack will give you adaptive cruise control and a blind spot warning system, but it’s only available on one specific RS Line model. In the fullness of time, a suite of semi-autonomous driving functions will also become available that will allow the car to pretty much drive itself on the motorway, given the right circumstances, although this will probably be an option that costs you extra.
How much equipment do I get?
The Clio is well kitted out from the start, with the entry-level Play model getting air conditioning, cruise control and a speed limiter, as well as a DAB radio, although it misses out on the 7.0-inch infotainment system. If you want that, and the Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and sat-nav that come with it, you’ll need to upgrade to the Iconic model, which also includes hands-free entry and a leather-covered steering wheel.
Opt for the S Edition and you’ll get a larger 9.3-inch screen for the infotainment, a digital instrument panel in place of regular dials, as well as electric rear windows and climate control air-con. The top-spec RS Line model has a different drive modes, which let you switch to a sportier feel from the engine if you feel like it, as well as some sporty bits on the interior.
If style sits on or near the top of your list of priorities for your next small car, the Renault Clio is undoubtedly a must-see. You’ll also find it appealing if you value a high-quality interior, a roomy cabin and a comfortable and easy driving experience.