- Great design
- Good to drive
- Well equipped
- Some rivals have more space
- Least powerful models are a bit slow
- Some desirable features are optional
The Renault Clio is a chic compact hatchback with a stylish interior and great levels of equipment. It feels sophisticated for a small car and ownership costs are reasonable thanks to some very efficient engines.
The Clio is good to drive, being just as at home on the motorway as it is nipping through crowded city streets. There are versions to suit a wide range of budgets and needs, from low-cost runarounds to more luxurious and sporty models. All come with a high level of equipment and a strong safety record. Easy on both the eye and the bank balance, the Clio is a great all-round choice.
Thanks to its smart design and high-quality materials, the Clio’s interior has a premium look and feel. The dashboard is clearly laid out and easy to use, and many models have a user-friendly touchscreen display. All versions have lots of equipment, such as air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity. The latest model, launched in autumn 2019, raises the bar with a much larger touchscreen and sharp new interior design.
Whichever Clio you go for, a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment means it’s easy to get comfortable. Interior space is about average for a supermini, so four adults will fit fine but they won’t have as much wiggle room as they’d get in a Honda Jazz or Skoda Fabia.
Similarly, the boot is a decent size and shape and you’ll get a weeks’ shopping or a couple of medium-sized suitcases in there. Post-2019 models have a usefully larger boot but If you want a real load-lugger you might want to look at alternatives such as the Skoda Fabia, or the roomy (but still compact on the outside) Renault Captur SUV.
The Renault Clio is one of the best small cars to drive, balancing a nimble feel with good comfort. Light steering makes it undemanding and helps you to comfortably squeeze through tight spaces in town. Soft suspension and well-shaped seats help to make it a decent long-distance cruiser.
The engines provide good performance although you need to rev the lowest-powered petrol quite hard. The gearshift in manual versions is easy enough but there’s also an automatic model that takes the strain out of driving in traffic.
The Clio is a great-value used buy compared with rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208. It’s particularly keenly priced and inexpensive to run thanks to efficient engines that give low fuel and tax costs. Insurance groupings are low too.
The diesel engines give you the most miles to the gallon, with the 1.5-litre having an official average of almost 70mpg. Most petrol versions have an official average of over 50mpg, which is still very impressive.
The Clio is well built and has a solid reputation for reliability. The latest model (from 2019 onwards) has a five-year warranty as standard.
Renault is famed for its focus on safety and both the latest and previous-generation models received a maximum five-star rating from independent safety organisation Euro NCAP.
Best for economy - 1.5 dCi
Best for family - 0.9 Iconic
Best for fun - 1.3 TCE R.S. Line
The Clio comes well equipped as standard, although it’s generally worth going for one level up from the most basic trim if you can afford it, since the entry-level cars miss out on a few of the more desirable features.
Despite being a small, affordable car the Clio is available with a range of high-tech features that you might think were reserved for bigger cars. Look out for options such as LED headlights, a Bose audio system, reversing camera and a ‘panoramic’ glass sunroof. None of these are deal-breakers, but they increase the Clio’s already strong feel-good factor.