With summer trips now a distant memory, the Clio has been occupied with the daily grind this month, and getting increasingly covered in road grime. As autumn arrived, the heavens opened for days in a row, and then the first storms of the year covered everything in sight in a blizzard of leaves that quickly dulled the Clio’s usually gleaming paintwork.
When Johnny Nash recorded the hit “I Can See Clearly Now” in 1972, I doubt he was referencing the Clio’s windscreen wipers, but it seems appropriate all these years later. They’ve developed a habit – I’d fall short of describing it as a fault exactly – of stopping fully extended on the windscreen for a while, then carrying on again. Perhaps it’s an issue with the automatic mode, which uses a sensor behind the windscreen to activate them, but most of the time it isn’t a problem. If I drove more miles on the motorway negotiating the bow waves of HGVs it could be more alarming, but for now I’ve put it into the category of ‘charming Gallic quirks’, with a mental note to keep an eye on it for the future.
While we’re on the subject of the Clio’s few faults, the suspension has come under fire this month. I’ve mentioned in previous reports that this generation of Renault’s supermini is notably firmer than before, presumably to take on the pin-sharp Fiesta. In many ways it’s a success, because one-up, the Clio is great fun and encouragingly surefooted along a twisting B-road. The negative is the firmer ride, and as Covid-19 measures eased temporarily and I was able to take a few mask-wearing passengers in the Clio, they commented that it was rather bumpy from the passenger seat.
Elsewhere, the Clio continues to be a very impressive and well-rounded car. It struck me the other day this only serves to back up the sentiment that the world’s best cars are those with a long history of evolution. One of the best I’ve ever owned was a Mk5 Golf, and while I can’t say I’ve had a Porsche 911 in the garage, I’ve heard they’re pretty good too. This is the fifth-generation of Clio, and it has shown clear improvements for each version, with a particular leap forward this time around. Its large touchscreen continues to impress, especially in its navigation mode, where there’s a clear view of all the roads in the area – especially handy when trying to find an alternative route.
Given that it uses new software, I’m also pleasantly surprised it hasn’t crashed once since March, leaving me flailing around without directions or anything decent to listen to, especially given that ‘our Clio’ was one of the first cars in the UK. The Skoda Rapid I ran as a long-termer required an update at the dealership to cure its buggy infotainment software, and my parents’ Hyundai Kona Hybrid has had to have similar updates because it became impossible to enter postcodes into the navigation system. As touchscreens become a more integral and vital part of a car’s functions, software glitches are becoming an increasingly common issue, highlighted in recent months by the delayed launch of the Volkswagen ID.3 because its software quite simply wasn’t ready.
Date arrived 23rd March 2020
Fuel economy 67.2mpg (WLTPcombined) 62.8mpg (on test)
The Clio’s upmarket touchscreen continues to impress.
In auto mode, the windscreen wipers sometimes get stuck.