The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.4
The Renault Clio Sport Tourer is an estate version of the best-selling Clio hatchback. Despite its awkward looks the Sport Tourer is good to drive, practical and well equipped.
Reasons to buy
- Decent to drive
- Extra space over the hatch
- Wide engine range
At a glance
The transformation from five-door hatchback to estate doesn’t make one of the prettiest estate cars on the market, instead making the Renault Clio Sport Tourer look rather bulbous and overweight. The facelift in 2009 didn’t help either, transforming the supermini from a rather stylish hatch into a gawky looking, ill-proportioned small car.
The inside of the Clio is relatively stylish, but it is showing its age compared with more modern rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. The silver appliqués and trim lift the cabin considerably and break up the swathes of grey plastic. The dials are clear, and all of the controls logically arranged around the cabin. The audio system is located too far down on the centre console though, but there are steering wheel controls standard on all models. The TomTom sat-nav that comes on top models is extremely easy to use and is a major selling point.
There’s considerably more space inside than the Clio hatchback, with 439 litres of luggage room with the seats up. Fold them down, and there’s 1,277 litres of space. This compares well with the SEAT Ibiza ST and Skoda Fabia estate. There’s a decent amount of space for four, with ample head and legroom. And the seats are just about right, combining the right level of support and comfort in equal measure, while offering plenty of adjustment. Disappointingly, the steering column is only adjustable for rake, and not for reach. Though not necessarily important in this size of car, all Clio Sport Tourers can tow up to 1,200kg.
Ride and handling
The Clio is right at the top of the class when it comes to road manners, on a par with Ford’s Fiesta. It handles neatly, turns in nicely, and has plenty of grip. The steering has plenty of feel, yet is light and precise around town, while the ride offers a supple and comfortable ride. Engine, wind and road noise are impressively low, making the Clio a great long distance cruiser and urban runabout.
Renault offers a wide range of engines with the Sport Tourer, with a choice of three petrol engines and a single diesel unit. The best seller of the range is the 1.5-litre dCi engine, developing 87bhp, which has a top speed of 108mph and a 0-62mph acceleration figure of 12.2 seconds. None of the engines in the range are a real ball of fire, however, which is hardly surprisingly considering the Clio will predominantly be found in an urban environment. The 1.2-litre turbocharged engine is probably the nicest engine of the bunch, producing 99bhp, with a maximum speed of 114mph and can accelerate to 62mph in 11.2 seconds. The entry level engine, the 1.2-litre 16-valve unit, develops 74bhp, has a top speed of 104mph and can accelerate to 62mph in 13.6 seconds. For automatic buyers, there’s a 1.6-litre 109bhp engine, with a top speed of 116mph and acceleration figures of 12.2 seconds.
The Clio features a range of modern efficient engines that deliver low levels of CO2 and good fuel economy. The best selling 1.5-litre dCi engine, for example, emits just 106g/km of CO2, and achieves 70.6mpg on the combined cycle. This compares to the 1.2-litre TCe engine that achieves 51.4mpg, with emissions of 129g/km. The low CO2 of both of those engines mean that the annual tax disc is free in the first year, whereas with the remaining models in the range – the 1.2-litre 16V and 1.6 VVT automatic – you must pay. The automatic model is disappointing, with CO2 emissions at 179g/km and fuel economy of 36.2mpg. Insurance groups are competitive compared to the Clio’s main peers, though residual values are a worry, coming in at a lower rate than all of its main rivals.
French cars haven’t been known for their reliability, and the Clio continues that trend. Renault is making a concerted effort in this area, though, and has a desire to increase quality considerably. Only time will tell whether that translates into better results in the reliability surveys and customer satisfaction indexes.
The Sport Tourer version of the Clio hasn’t been crash tested by safety watchdog EuroNCAP, but the three-door hatchback has been. It scored a five-star rating when it was tested back in 2005. All Clio models come with driver, passenger and side airbags, together with anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Rather disappointingly, curtain airbags are optional on Expression models, though standard kit on the upmarket Dynamique TomTom versions. Electronic stability programme is an optional extra on both. Isofix child seat safety fasteners are provided for the rear outer seats, and a tyre inflation kit is provided, rather than a full-sized spare wheel.
All Clio Sport Tourer models come with remote central locking, electric front windows, electric and heated mirrors, front fog lights, trip computer, 60/40 split rear seats, roof rails and a CD player with auxiliary socket. Dynamique TomTom models add 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rain sensor, TomTom satnav, cruise control, aircon as well as a leather steering wheel and gearknob. Optional extras include privacy glass and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.
If you’ve outgrown a conventional supermini and can’t face the prospect of a mini MPV, then the Clio Sport Tourer makes perfect sense. It’s great to drive, offers extra room, and providing you choose your engine wisely, is pretty frugal.