Those of us who are old enough to remember the TV advert for the original Renault Clio in the early 1990’s will fondly remember the iconic French girl ‘Nicole’ and her father, who was affectionately known as ‘Papa’. The advert was one of the most popular TV ads at the time, and it introduced the car-buying public to the striking replacement for the ageing – but ultra-popular – Renault 5. The Clio has enjoyed huge sales success ever since then, being consistently one of Europe’s top-selling cars since its launch, and it is largely credited with restoring Renault’s reputation, and stature, after a difficult second half of the 1980s.

Seductive, Smart & Connected;

With the all-new Clio, Renault have brought to the market a car of three parts, so to speak. Firsly, the new 5th generation Clio is a seductive small car that you can customise to your own individual taste. Secondly, the car boasts a smart cockpit which is more intuitative than ever before, while last but not least, the new Clio is a connected car that is easy to drive. The Clio distinguishes itself from rivals by being one of the most technologically advanced models in its class. This move is part of a bid by the French car manufacturer to keep its supermini at the forefront of the sector, especially in the face of increasing competition from compact SUVs.

Evolutionary Design;

The exterior styling of the new Renault Clio is evolutionary, keeping elements such as rear door handles hidden in the door frames, with the overall look in line with the current Reanult Mégane. The interior, though, is where the bigger changes take place. Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker stated that the firm “dramatically needed to improve perceived quality”, and reckons 70% of the time he spent with the new Clio was on its interior. Cabin materials in the new Clio are softer and more tactile, while build quality is exceptional. The new Clio is based on an all-new platform, which has enabled the designers to manipulate the packaging so that the car’s dimensions are actually smaller than the fourth-generation car’s, yet there is more space inside.

Impressive Standard Equipment;

Trim levels in the all-new Clio consist of Expression, Dynamique, Iconic, and RS Line, with even the entry-level Expression model coming with such standard features as Renault Pure Vision LED headlights, LED indicators, LED daytime running lights, body-coloured door handles and mirrors, driver seat height adjustment, COMFORT front seats with reinforced side supports, 6 airbags, Hill Start Assist, traffic sign recognition, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, cruise control with speed limiter, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, 4.2” TFT driver information display, and Renault Automatic Emergency Assist (112).

Engine & Transmission Options;

Currently, there are petrol and diesel engines available in the new Clio, with a Clio E-Tech Hybrid model set to join the range soon. Petrol engines are available with 75, 100 or 130bhp – depending on the model and gearbox chosen, while the only diesel engine available is an 85bhp (Blue dCi) unit, which comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The 75bhp petrol engine (badged SCe) comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 100bhp version (badged TCe) is available with either 5-speed manual, or Auto CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) options. The only transmission available with the 130bhp engine is an Auto EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch).

Test Car;

My test car was a new Clio RS Line TCe (100), and was finished in striking Iron Blue metallic paint. Being the range-topping model in the Clio range, a comprehensive array of equipment comes as standard. Key features include a special RS Line front bumper with an Formula 1-style blade painted in Gun Metal Grey, with a bee-hive lower grille, 17” RS Line diamond-cut alloy wheels, oval chrome exhaust finisher, Gun Metal Grey rear spoiler and lower door protectors, fornt LED foglights, auto lights and low beam, rear view camera, front parking sensors, Multi-Sense with ambient lighting, and an Easylink 9.3” infotainment screen with navigation and Smartphone replication, while exclusive RS Line chrome badges on the front wings and boot lid add visual impact.

On The Road;

On the road, the new Clio feels like a larger, more mature car thanks to its soft ride and impressive refinement. Producing 99bhp and 160Nm of torque, the 1.0-litre TCe engine is quiet and entertaining in equal measure, with the car capable of sprinting from 0-100km/h in 11.2-seconds. The Clio’s steering is well weighted, while the car’s involving 5-speed gearbox is precise, and intuitive to use. On a combined driving cycle, I managed to achieve fuel consumption of 6.2l/100km (46MPG), while annual road tax is just €180. The new Clio boasts excellent practicality too, with an impressive 391-litres of boot space available when the 60:40 split-folding rear seat backs are in place. This is a figure that would shame many cars from the class above, but this spaciousness does not come at the expense of interior comfort, as the access to the rear seats is even easier than before, while overall head, leg and elbow room throughout the cabin is good.

Verdict & Pricing;

Competitors to the new Renault Clio inlcude the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo, SEAT Ibiza, and the newly-launched Opel Corsa and Peugeot 208. However, with the new Clio offering so much in terms of standard equipment, practicality, refinement, affordable running costs, and more, it can certainly hold its head high amongst such talented rivals. With prices starting at just €17,195 (ex-works), the new Clio offers terrific value too. All Renault passenger cars come with a 5-Year/200,000km warranty for total peace-of-mind motoring.

Visit www.renault.ie for further information.