Not long ago I tested Renault’s new Grand Modus – a practical and likeable small MPV with good space, both for people and cargo. Now I drive the new Clio Sport Tourer and ask: does a small estate offer a better alternative?
What exactly is a Clio Sport Tourer? Basically, its designers have added 8 inches to the back end of a Clio 5-door hatchback, changed the roof-line and rear hatch, and thereby created a small estate car. The Sport Tourer boasts an enlarged split level boot, with up to 440 litres of space against the hatchback’s 288 litres. With the 60/40 split rear seats fully folded – which is an easy job to do – you get a capacious and almost flat load area 57 inches long. Its volume of 1,277 litres is impressively 90 per cent of BMW’s 3-Series Tourer but, unless six inches of extra load length is critical, the taller and £775 cheaper Grand Modus offers 177 litres more cargo volume. All the existing virtues and shortcomings (mainly the strange, lifeless, steering) of the successful Clio hatch are retained and even slightly stiffened rear suspension doesn’t compromise the Clio’s fine ride quality.
The flexible 86bhp 1.5-litre dCi engine pulls very well and its five-speed transmission (somewhat clunky gear-change aside) is quite adequate, the car holding its own in the fast lane without strain, or vocal commotion. With little urban motoring the computer mpg display rarely ever dropped below 60mpg, and motorway cruising at the legal limit delivered around 55mpg. So it wouldn’t take too much effort or self-restraint to average over 60mpg. The official figures that Renault quotes in its brochures is 64.2mpg, so not a world away from the figures that I achieved. It may have the Sport Tourer name, but it offers little in sporting character, apart from front seats which are well-shaped and, thankfully, better upholstered than those in the Grand Modus. Cabin materials, mostly shared with the hatchback, are again of adequate quality, but there’s a disappointing absence of practical storage areas compared with the profusion of such things in the Grand Modus. Close competitors, the Skoda Fabia Estate 1.4 TDI and Peugeot 207 SW HDi 90, are a touch less and a touch more capacious respectively but, whilst the cheaper and betterequipped Skoda in level 3 trim is £695 cheaper on paper, you’ll struggle to get the same discount that you would on the Renault or Peugeot.
You’ll love the Sport Tourer’s brilliant 60mpg plus economy, but does it usefully fill any obvious market gap? I found the Sport Tourer lacking in personality and practicality compared with the Grand Modus. It doesn’t have the passenger space, splendid vision, and comfort offered by the Modus’s tall body, big windows and big doors and, even if it were a closer decision, it looks rather expensive.
RIVALS: Skoda Fabia Estate 3 1.4 TDI, Peugeot 207 SW Sport HDi 90
- Engine: 1461cc, 4-cylinder turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 86bhp at 3,750rpm
- Max Torque: 148lb ft at 1,900rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,200kg
- Combined Consumption: 64.2mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 117g/km (B)
- 0-62mph: 13.0secs
- Max speed: 108mph
- Insurance group: 3
Economical, good to drive, good load space
Expensive, lacking in personality