Gareth Butterfield wonders whether the new Clio still has its French flair after all these years
BELIEVE it or not, we’re now on our fourth Renault Clio. The pretty and stylish small hatchback that introduced us to the phrase “va va voom” and the cute relationship between “Nicole” and Papa” has been knocking around for an astonishing 28 years now – and millions of them have been sold.
But as competitive as the small hatchback sector still is in the UK, it’s becoming overlooked and watered down by crossovers and small SUVs. Far from overlook this, Renault offers the Captur for those who like life a little more upright, and the Zoe for those who like to shun fossil fuel.
But of all three, the Clio is still the most successful and, although it’s piled on the pounds for its latest iteration, it’s every bit as pretty and stylish as it ever was.
The fourth Clio is only available as a five-door, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a three-door, thanks to its hidden rear handles and the nicely sculpted side profile. In the right colour, it’s one of the most attractive hatchbacks in its class.
It’s nice inside too. It’s typically Renault, with a chunky steering wheel, centrally-mounted cruise control switch and a gigantic stalk on which the stereo controls are mounted.
Even in basic form, the spec is generous but in more lavish models the equipment list is really quite impressive. The large infotainment screen is easy to use and includes a built-in sat nav by TomTom, which is always a good thing.
The engine range is better than ever. It starts with an asthmatic 1.2-litre petrol, which you’d be wise to overlook and plump for the 0.9-litre three cylinder lump instead.
There’s also a turbocharged 1.2 litre turbo on offer, but the best engine by far is the familiar 1.5 litre dCi diesel. I know we’re not supposed to like diesel any more, but it’s the most frugal and nippy option and it suits the car best.
The clio was always known for its fine handling and the latest version doesn’t disappoint. The steering is excellent, with plenty of feel and the suspension is supple and firm without feeling uncomfortable on British roads.
Clio ownership begins at £13,615 and even a decent middle-of-the-pile version with sat nav and parking sensors will set you back less than £15,000. So it’s priced competitively, too.
There’s plenty of rivals to choose from and someone will doubtless try and make a case for choosing a crossover but the fact remains that you can still buy a stylish, fun and practical Clio for a reasonable price. And it’s a car I’m sure you’ll be very happy with. A votre Sante to that!