The design of the outgoing Renault Clio was deemed so successful, the French brand has chosen not to upset the apple cart too much for this fifth-generation model. It was already Europe’s top-selling supermini after all, but despite the similar appearance, this Clio in fact has all-new body panels and different underpinnings. It wears its evolutionary design well, boasting clean lines and Renault’s latest corporate face.
Even in the Iconic trim of our test car – sitting just above the entry-level Play version – the Clio cuts a dash, with neat two-tone 16-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting and chrome interior and exterior trim. Ahead of its arrival, I only knew the Clio was blue, and having imagined a dark navy tone, the blinding Celadon Blue Clio that appeared outside came as quite a surprise. While slightly unsure at first, the aqua colour has really grown on me, and I love the fact the Clio stands out amongst a sea of black, grey and silver cars. It’s a rather cheerful colour that also does a great job of highlighting the Clio’s stylish design.
In a stroke of good fortune, the Clio arrived just days before the country was put into lockdown. This has meant that running-in the 1.5-litre Blue dCi engine has been a slow process, with just one or two trips out each week to pick up essentials, with a few longer journeys as the measures started to ease. Leafing through the brochure, I had been a bit concerned that with 84bhp and a 0-62mph time of 14.7 seconds, the Clio may struggle to get out of its own way, but I’m happy to report it doesn’t feel like that on the road. For a start, the new CMF-B platform is admirably lightweight, with this version tipping the scales at just 1,277kg. Available from 1,750rpm, there’s also 162lb ft of torque available, so the Clio makes adequate progress, provided you don’t let its revs sink too low. Do so, and you’ll need to stir its six-speed gearbox into life, but happily this doesn’t prove to be much of a chore, thanks to its slick action. Of course, it’s the 67.2mpg (WLTP) and 94g/km (NEDC) CO2 figures that are really what this car is all about, making it one of the cheapest diesel cars on the market to run.
A relaxed pace also gives you more time to enjoy the interior, which is undoubtedly a highlight of the Clio. Upgrading owners will be amazed by the transformation, which elevates the gallic hatchback to the higher echelons of the class. Soft-touch materials and attractive surfaces abound, while models from Iconic up get a swish touchscreen with navigation, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a huge leap from the old system. The Our Cars Clio is one of the first UK press cars to arrive, built before the trim levels were finalised, so you’ll notice from our photos it’s actually fitted with the bigger 9.3-inch touchscreen that’s available as an optional extra.
Despite being ever so slightly smaller than the Mk4 Clio, there’s also ample space inside and easy access via the front and back doors. That’s despite the Laurens Van den Acker design looking like a three-door, with rear door handles cleverly hidden in the door pillars. It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position, and rear legroom is decent for all but the tallest of adults. The diesel’s AdBlue tank means the 366-litre boot is smaller than the 391 litres of the petrol, but that’s still bigger than the Fiesta’s 311 litres of cargo room.
As life begins to return to the “new normal”, I can’t wait to get more familiar with the Clio, which so far appears to be such a strong contender. Here’s hoping that when customers can more freely go back into showrooms that there will be more examples hitting the roads, and I’ll be able to ask other owners if they’re as impressed with its upmarket evolution as I am.
Date arrived 23rd March 2020
Fuel economy 67.2mpg (WLTPcombined) 61.7mpg (on test)
The striking Celadon Blue paintwork is fun and looks great in the sunshine.
With just 84bhp on offer, diesel Clio fans may be left wanting a hotter version.