THREE key words are at the heart of the creation of the new Renault Clio: evolution, revolution and innovation.

This fifth-generation version of what is the best-selling small car in Europe since 2013 and top-selling French car in the world builds on the outstanding success of the previous version, which took the car on a journey from the rational to the emotional.

On the outside, we see the evolution of its design. Virtually every bit of it is new, but the changes are so subtle that the casual observer might be hard-pressed to spot them.

Renault says it would have been foolhardy to mess around with the style, and its hard to argue against that view.

So what we have are new structure lines on the bonnet, wider and slimmer lights, a slightly bigger grille, hidden window-mounted rear door handles, an absence of black plastic in favour of chrome finishes and a handful of new paint finishes. It is also 12mm shorter and 8mm lower than the outgoing model, which is a remarkable achievement when one considers what has been achieved on the inside.

It’s on the inside where the revolution and innovation comes into play.

There’s more space for passengers, buttons on the excellent steering wheel to replace those previously scattered around the cockpit, configuration options on the instrument panel, slimmer front seats that give 26mm more leg room for rear seat occupants, a more liberal application of high-quality materials.

One of the highlights is the option of a 9.3-inch infotainment system and 10-inch TNT instrument cluster, but even the entry-level Play trim gets a 4.2-inch multimedia screen and if you step up to the Iconic model there’s a seven-inch multimedia screen with satellite navigation.

There’s an auto update system on the Google-linked information system, which means there’s no need for revised software uploading, and some clever features such as the highlighting of imminent fuel stations and the price of the fuel.

Attention has also been paid to the boot, where previously there were awkward side curves that restricted the load. Those curves have now been ironed out. Boot capacity has been increased to a best-in-class 391 litres, plus the cabin itself boasts a further 26 litres of storage. A double height floor simplifies loading, while the rear seats fold down to provide a near flat floor.

In addition to the Play and Icon trim levels, the Clio is available in new S Edition and RS Line versions, with prices starting at £14,295.

Safety features include lane departure warning and lane keep assist. Traffic sign recognition with speed alert is also included, as is cruise control with a speed limiter function. Active emergency braking is also included and is bolstered by the latest cyclist and pedestrian detection technology.

The Clio is available with four engines: three petrol and one diesel.

The entry-level three-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol SCe 75 produces 75PS and is fitted as standard with a five-speed manual gearbox. It might be a little weedy for most tastes.

Next up is the TCe 100, which increases power to 100PS and again fitted as standard with a five-speed manual gearbox but is also available with a seven-speed CVT gearbox.

The most powerful of the petrol engines is the TCe 130, which makes its debut in the Clio - having already been seen in the Kadjar, Mégane and Scénic – and is available exclusively with the seven-speed EDC dual-clutch transmission.

I tested the manual version of the TCe 100 and TCe 130 auto on a variety of roads and was very impressed with them both.

The TCe 100 has plenty of fizz and is mated to an excellent five-speed gearbox. The light handling and comfortable ride make this a compelling purchase and it seems certain to find most homes.

For those looking for a faster experience, then the TCe 130 lops almost three seconds off the 0 to 60mph sprint time. The performance is close to hot hatch territory, but there’s a price to pay: insurance group 16, rather than 10, lower fuel economy and more CO2 emissions in addition to the price premium of about £4,000 over the manual Iconic TCe 100.

There’s also a 1.5-litre Blue dCi 85 diesel capable of returning an impressive 78.5mpg, but I cannot see it winning many orders.


Renault Clio Iconic TCe 100

Price: £16,295 (Clio range from £14,295)

Engine: Three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol producing 100hp

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 11.8 seconds; top speed 116mph

Economy: 54.3mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 99g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: *****