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Renault Clio TCe 130 first drive

To say the Clio is an important model for Renault would be something of an understatement. The company has sold 15 million, and the car has represented first wheels for countless drivers, been the hot hatch of choice for petrol heads, and represented the French manufacturer in the supermini stakes since its introduction in 1990. Now, the fifth-generation of the popular Clio has been launched, and we went along to the UK launch to test it out.

Review by Chris Lilly

PERFORMANCE

Renault has added a range of two petrol engines to the new Clio, and just the one diesel. It's not expected to be a great seller, so is limited to just an 85 hp Blue dCi, with the petrols made up of 100 hp and 130 hp TCe units. A hybrid option will arrive in the middle of next year. Under focus here is the higher-powered petrol, the 130 hp TCe engine is available with a five-speed manual, though here is driven with a seven-speed EDC dual clutch automatic transmission. The engine is a smooth one, with plenty of oomph from low revs. As a flexible powertrain, the 130 TCe performs well, and will more than cope with whatever the driver throws at it, thanks primarily to the 230 Nm of torque available. The 0-62 mph time is 9.0 seconds, with a top speed of 124 mph possible. This version of the Clio is quick enough for most, though there will undoubtedly be a hot-hatch version in due course. The 100 hp petrol is likely to prove the more popular, but this 130 hp unit will certainly appeal to those that want a little added performance or tackle longer trips regularly. The transmission changes smoothly, and is rarely caught un the wrong ratio. It's a good set-up, but I always think that a car like the Clio works better with a manual 'box.

HANDLING

Renault is well respected as a maker of good driver's cars, and the Clio will only continue that trend. It's one of the best handling cars in its class I reckon, bettered only by the Ford Fiesta perhaps. It grips well, with enough feedback coming through the wheel to let you know what's going on beneath the tyres. The steering is a little light, but this proves a better set-up when driving in town so there can be few complaints there. The suspension isn't a match for a VW Polo in terms of comfort, but then nothing is in this class, and the Renault soaks up the lumps and bumps pretty well. Driving the Clio just about anywhere will see it perform well.

BODY STYLE

This new Clio is very much an evolution of the current design, but it's a lot more than simply adding the current Renault face to the old model. Beneath the surface is a brand-new platform, but Renault has rightly not messed around with the styling too much. It's a great looking supermini, and the new, sharper design works nicely. Inside, there is plenty of space up front, and the Clio will seat four adults, but space in the rear is a little restricted for taller occupants. Boot space is excellent however, so the Clio will suit some buyers better than others - it makes more sense for those with a young family than those with older kids for example.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Renault Clio first drive interior

Renault is on a bit of a mission in the cabin, dramatically upping its game. We saw it with the new Zoe, and the same attention has been applied to the Clio. The quality of materials used is a step-change over the out-going model, and pushes the Clio up towards the top of its class in terms of interior quality. The design is great too, with enough flourishes to keep things interesting but without becoming flashy. Key to this new look is the portrait touchscreen infotainment system, which performs nicely with good levels of responsiveness - it can be a little laggy on occasion - and decent graphics. It's customisable, connected, and well thought out. Renault hasn't just thrown all the controls within the screen as some rivals have, and kept the core commands, those often used on the move, as physical buttons/dials. It's a great interior, and helps give the Clio a big-car feel.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

Top performer in this section is the diesel Clio, with an official fuel economy figure of 73.9 MPG. This 130 hp Clio is the worst performing model in the range currently, but it still manages to return a very respectible 53.0 MPG. We didn't have the chance to put this to properly to the test during the car's launch, but it certainly didn't seem unattainable, particularly with a few longer motorway runs to make the most of the longer top ratio in the seven-speed transmission.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

The Clio range has CO2 emissions as low as 94 g/km with the diesel engine, though the 100 hp petrol is only 99 g/km and the most powerful 130 hp model is 118 g/km. None are particularly bad in terms of official emissions then, and the hybrid model is still to come. The model tested had drive mode select, which includes Eco for improved gear changes and throttle response in economical driving. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 30.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

There are four trim levels to chose from, made up of Play, Iconic, S-Edition, and R.S. Line. Fitted as standard to all models are full LED headlights, air conditioning, cruise control, DAB radio, and electric front windows. Moving up to Iconic adds elements such as 16-inch alloys, a 7-inch multimedia screen with sat-nav and smartphone connectivity, handsfree access, rear privacy glass, rear parking sensors, and leather steering wheel. S Edition adds the larger 9.3-inch infotainment system and a 7-inch digital instrument cluster, electric rear windows, 17-inch alloys, climate control, and automatic lights and wipers. R.S. Line tested includes R.S. Line styling details, a 10-inch instrument cluster, luxury pack with heated leather seats, wireless phone charging, parking assist, 360-degree camera, front parking sensors, and driver modes.

MODEL SUMMARY

Renault's Clio has been improved in just about every respect, and is now one of the top cars in its class. With further additions to the range set to improve its green rating further still, the Clio goes into its next generation on strong foundations.

Renault Clio first drive rear

Model tested: Renault Clio 130 TCe R.S. Line EDC
Body-style: Supermini
Engine / CO2: 1.3 litre petrol / 118 g/km

On-road price: From £14,295. Price as tested £17,795
Warranty: Five years / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars

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Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:3rd Nov 2019

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