When the Renault Clio 3 was released, there was an almost audible thud that resonated across the country as every motoring journalist across the country dropped their A5 notepad to the table and thought “here we go again, another bland Clio”. The Clio 3 wasn’t a very adventurous, so you can imagine the tense looks on the faces of the motoring press as the new model was unveiled.
Sufficed to say the new Clio 4 is an excellent piece of engineering. They’ve put it on a diet and made it 45mm lower, 100kg lighter and widened it out a bit. A tuned chassis means the cabin is now almost silent apart from the soft clunk of the excellent new gearbox which allows for faster and smoother gear changes than the previous instalment. The model I drove was the 1.5 dCi which boots out 90 horsepower and 220nm torque. All this amounts to a top speed of 112 and it’ll politely dash to 62 in 11.7 seconds.
Economy in this model is excellent and if you’re driving downhill in 5th gear at 2000 revs with a tailwind, you’ll be reaching the dizzying heights of 88mpg but around town you can expect a more down to earth 70mpg. As with most small diesel hatchbacks these days the emissions are 90g/km which plonks it firmly in the ‘A’ tax band. This new Clio is also very spacious and I could fit all 6 foot 5 inches of me into the back with enough headroom and even with the seat all the way back in the front you could fit a child or a small adult behind me. Way in the back the large boot is big enough for a large family shop with room to spare.
Renault is never the first company I come to when talking about interior quality, but this new model left me lost for words. I drove the Dynamique spec and the inside was excellent, awash with piano black and high quality plastics with a very comfortable leather gear knob and matching half-leather steering wheel. Clear digital dials and the responsive R-Link Touchscreen Media/Navigation system makes the cockpit a very pleasant place to be. Renault have also overhauled the sound system making use of the latest Arkamys 3D Sounds technology coupled with a new 30L subwoofer and high quality tweeters. This equates to no distortion even at the highest of volumes.
There is no denying that Renault have done wonders with this new Clio by comparison to the previous model, thanks of new designer Laurens Van Der Acker who’s brief is simply to “make beautiful cars”. The exterior of this car really is head-turningly pleasant and with added features like extra-tinted rear windows this is a great family hatchback on a budget. What Renault have done here most of all though is given Ford something to worry about, and that’s not too easy to do in the hatchback market. With prices starting at £10,995 for the most spartan model, the Expression and up to £14,995 for the tres belle Dynamique S, this little car is competitively priced as well. Renault will also be bringing two sport models with the GT-Line tCe120 and Clio-Sport 200. These new sport models will definitely be biting at the ankles of the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST and Vauxhall Corsa VXR. The big question is, have Renault made a Clio to rival its competitors? And the answer is a yes.