The Renault Clio is the bread and butter of the French companies model range and with the industry going through tough times in Europe, this cars sales are more important than ever. This is the all-new Renault Clio 4, a chic new interpretation of a car that has sold in vast numbers in previous generations. The 2013 incarnation sports a bold new design that shouts from the rooftops “Va Va Voom is back!” It is bold and aims to reinvent the brand. The car it replaces was conservative in design, but Renault are keen to promote a premium product in the 4th generation Clio and so blending into the class was not on the agenda.
Visually it looks every bit as modern as it claims to be, bringing a little bit of French design to the roads. There is no longer a three door body style for the Clio but by hiding the rear door handles Renault have managed to give the hatchback an almost coupe appearance. It sits lower to the road and is wider than its predecessor making for an object that does turn heads when out and about. The gloss black skirting is also a nice unique design feature for a car in this class. Renault have put a big emphasis on making this new Clio “your own” with a wide range of customisation options including external sticker designs, new interior coloured trim and a range of alloy wheels to choose from at not extra cost.
The interior has taken a real step forwards in terms of architecture and quality. Our 0.9 litre Dynamique MediaNav TCe 90 test car was trimmed with some very good looking piano black plastics and was dominated by the cars new touch screen media system. The system housed inside the console allows for easy access to the radio, satellite navigation and BlueTooth settings. The blue trimmed cabin is very well engineered in terms of ergonomics with a comfortable seating positions and a steering wheel that fits very nicely to the hand. Air conditioning controls were in easy to reach positions and are highlighted with neat LED lighting as they are adjusted. Also finding a home within the cars interior are the new Bass Reflex speakers that allow for high levels of clarity even at antisocial levels of volume. It is clear that Renault have packed the Clio 4 with tech and as a result the interior of the car is a very pleasant place to be.
On the road this particular Clio does struggle in some areas. Its turbocharged petrol engine may produce 90BHP but it has to be worked very hard to get the most out of it. All of the power is right at the top of the rev range and though its turbo produces very little lag, it does become little tiresome having to work the gearbox so comprehensively to go anywhere quick. The Clio’s merits lay within its chassis and suspension. The ride is very smooth even on the UK’s battered tarmac surface and the responsiveness when you want to change the cars direction is most welcome. There is a notable amount of body roll when cornering at speed and the steering doesn’t offer too much in the way of driver feedback, that said the cars breaks are very good.
This TCe 90 is good for 62MPG and emits just 104g/km of CO2. I personally think this specific Clio’s problem is the three cylinder engine under the bonnet. It ticks all of the boxes as far as looking after the environment is concerned but when you just want this car to be a revvy little petrol hatchback you can take onto B-roads and just throw into corners the unit provides very little enthusiasm. I genuinely like the brand new car very much with its high quality finishes and curvaceous looks, but I was rather hoping that this pint-sized petrol engine would behave more like an excited Jack Russell.
As an everyday car the 2013 Renault Clio has what it takes to compete in its class, and with the best Euro NCAP results, family buyers should take note. However, the diesel engine is the pick of the bunch.