Clio still has impact

Renault Clio
Renault Clio
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If ever a car was aimed at women, it has to be the Renault Clio. The advertising of course has been legendary.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of decades, you can’t have avoided Nicole & Co, the ‘Size Matters’ campaign, billboard ads suggesting that we’ve all ‘lost our ‘va va voom’’ and more recently, the ‘Britain vs France’ ads.

I won’t air my personal views on whether size matters, but I have to agree that this little car has had a massive impact on the shape of the supermini market - past and present.

The most recent fourth generation Clio I’m looking at here certainly has a ‘big car’ feel – courtesy, says Renault, of a long wheelbase, which has released generous interior room. It’s also got sharper looks and improved refinement. First impressions then, were good.

This improved Clio is a stylistic step forward from its predecessor, but it’s still recognisable as a Clio. The front end design features a prominent Renault logo, set bold and upright to a gloss black background. The sporty silhouette is achieved by integrated rear door handles concealed close to the rear quarter lights and cleverly disguised shutlines.

I found the interior to be an even bigger step onwards from iteration three of the Clio. That car ushered in a bigger, more spacious cabin and the fourth generation model builds on that with massively improved perceived quality.

This Renault’s still got a bit of ‘Va va voom’ to it. Such were my impressions of the Energy TCe 90 petrol variant which will probably be the big seller. The first three-cylinder powerplant ever produced by Renault, this three-cylinder, turbocharged 899cc unit comes with Stop&Start and is designed to deliver the performance of a normally-aspirated 1.4-litre unit. There’s also an Energy TCe 120 TCe unit.

Renault has made a firm commitment to driving down the cost of motoring and the Clio demonstrates some impressive economy and emissions figures.

The economy version of the Energy TCe 90 petrol engine can squeeze 65.7 miles from a litre of unleaded and emissions are mooted to be below 100g/km. That’s a 21 per cent improvement in miles per gallon compared to the old TCe 100 powerplant.