Gallic charmer

Renault Clio
Renault Clio
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Bigger, better looking and more efficient, Renault’s fourth generation Clio returns the company to volume credibility in the supermini sector.

Bubbling with personality, it’s an effervescent statement of intent from the Gallic brand. Looking for a small car in this segment? You’re looking here at the state-of-the-art.

‘Simple, sensuous and warm’ were the three design keywords and that’s pretty much what’s been achieved, with voluptuous looks that make you want to reach out and touch curving panels that gather pace around the steeply raked windscreen, culminating with assertive shoulder lines above the front and rear wheelarches. There’s no three-door model, so it’s just as well that the five-door does a good impression of one, coupe-like styling emphasised by hidden rear door handles. So visually and practically, you get the best of both worlds.

There are three main engines, with low and hi-tech routes to petrol power. If price is all, you’ll choose the affordable entry-level 1.2-litre 16V 75bhp entry-level unit. Better though, is Renault’s 0.9-litre three cylinder TCe unit. If you did need a little more petrol poke, there is a TCe 120 engine option, but this, like the 1.6-litre direct injection turbo unit used in the Renaultsport Clio 200 hot hatch, must be ordered with an automatic EDC (‘Efficient Dual Clutch’) automatic transmission that few will want. Diesel drivers get an improved version of the dCi 90 unit used in the previous generation model.

Renault has made a firm commitment to driving down the cost of motoring and thanks to an average weight saving of around 100kg across the range, the Clio demonstrates some impressive economy and emissions figures. In fact, for more than half the range, there’ll be no annual road tax to pay thanks to the way that sub-100g/km CO2 emissions figures grant exemption.