When Steph told me the next car for review was the new Renault Clio, I whooped with delight. Some might say I need to get a life, but you need to understand I already drive a five-year old Clio so I was keen to see how she had evolved.
As I went into the smart showrooms of Lifestyle Europe in Brighton I was impressed by the warm and friendly welcome. The service was exceptional and I was shown every gadget and widget the car has to offer. The only teeny issue I had was that the car was to be in the brightest yellow and certainly stood out! I soon learnt that this colour is fantastic when you’ve left the car in a public car park – you certainly can’t miss it!
On the other hand, if you just want a quiet drive and don’t want to be noticed, avoid this colour – as everyone’s eyes are drawn to it! Perfect for lovers of yellow and mini-celebs everywhere!
This model is important as the Clio is the replacement for Renault’s biggest seller.
The funky-looking new Clio has a diamond-shaped front grille with a huge Renault badge. The Clio only comes as a 5-door now and the rear door handles are ‘hidden’ in the trim by the window. In fact, it looks like there are only three doors – very sleek!
This is a grown-up version, with new glossy exterior trim and ‘dynamic curves’ as Laurens Van Den Acker, Director of Industrial Design at Renault says in the brochure introduction.
The new Clio certainly takes a leading place along with today’s alternatives, while staying true to its original self.
There are four versions of the car: Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav (which I drove) and Dynamique S MediaNav. My car had 16” Passion alloy wheels, a new dashboard with 7” touch screen access to the onboard sat nav and media centre. The seats were comfortable but no different from earlier models and the same applies to the gear stick and hand brake position. This model had a leather steering wheel with gloss black insert to match the gloss black surround front speakers; electrically adjustable (manual folding) black gloss door mirrors and rain-sensitive windscreen wipers.
Whilst the Renault air conditioning and cabin temperature controls haven’t been updated, there are new personalisation features which mean you can create your own exterior and interior trim colour scheme. Apparently there are 30,000 option choices for trims, add-ons and gadgets! The mind boggles.
The new shape includes extended visibility through extra glass next to the side mirrors which is disconcerting at first but a bonus and easy to get used to.
Value for money
Current offers for the basic Clio range at Lifestyle Europe are between £11,995 and £14,995 depending on the type chosen, and there are finance arrangements available through Renault. The colour scheme comprises Glacier White, French Blue and Inca Yellow for solid paints and Oyster Grey, Diamond Black and Mercury for metallics, although there’s an extra cost for anything other than Glacier White.
The Clio range includes many features not always standard elsewhere such as electric windows at the front (the handles at the back let the car down, it has to be said), central locking via a key card, an excellent MediaNav centre including sat nav, radio, Bluetooth, USB and hands free technology, great sound system and fingertip controls on the right-hand steering wheel stem.
The range of Clios (apart from the 1.2 16V 75) has Renault eco² technology which means the vehicles emit less than 120g/km of CO² and is manufactured in a plant that has been certified ISO14001. The car can be 95% recoverable at the end of its life cycle.
My model has CO² emissions of 104 which makes it road tax exempt, a particularly attractive point for environmental and budgetary reasons. The 5-gear speed box gets a fuel consumption of c51.4 for urban driving and a combined consumption of 62.8 which makes it a good economic proposition.
I chose the petrol version rather than diesel simply because that’s what I currently drive so I could equitably compare.
Although this version had an 898cc engine, this wasn’t noticeable once the car was in third gear and above.
I was a little disappointed to see Renault haven’t tackled the problem of sluggish performance while going uphill, but the small engine size certainly didn’t make itself known on the motorway. My Yellow Peril positively purred past other drivers with a happy-go-lucky backward wave!
I found it nimble on a combination of dual carriageways and rural roads in Sussex. The 16 inch alloys meant it was quiet over bumps and it cornered fairly well. As with eco-version cars these days, when the engine was running, you couldn’t hear it. Switching the Eco mode on meant I was using less petrol too.
The back seats fold down easily to allow for extra space when needed and the usual good size Clio boot is still there, although it seemed more basic than on earlier models and you have to pay extra for a 15” spare wheel.
There was plenty of legroom in the front but because the new Clio has a more aerodynamic design, space at the rear seems to have suffered slightly, as has the rear window size.
The MediaNav is simple to use, especially if you’re used to sat navs, computers and technology generally. But – consider the usual disadvantage with touch screens: finger marks which certainly show up in the light.
A slight disappointment is the smaller glove compartment size which is due to a storage shelf above. Also there are two cup holders, one larger than the other, but they’re next to the handbrake which seems really awkward to use. There’s another cup holder for back seat passengers. And once again – no secure handbag storage area!
But I loved the hands free key card and stop/start button; also the useful placing of the hazard light and door locking buttons at the top of the dashboard panel. And the car has that satisfying ‘thunk’ sound when the doors close too!
The seat controls were the same as earlier models, basic but practical and easy to adjust.
Renault certainly hasn’t lost its Va Va Voom with the new Clio.
There was a certain French quality feel to the car and the thought of 30,000 options is impressive.
As a best seller, I would have expected little things like electric windows at the back, a full size spare tyre and a slightly quirkier dashboard, but the new Clio is still a highly functional, fun and enjoyable drive.
The Renault 4+ package is comforting too – it includes 4 years’ warranty, 4 years’ roadside cover, 4 years’ servicing and 4 years’ finance package if needed (Ts & Cs apply).
So, would I upgrade to the new version?
Mais oui, naturellement!
Model tested: Renault Clio Dynamique MediaNav TCe 90 S&S petrol engine, 5 door, 5-speed manual gearbox.
RRP: The new Clio range starts from £10,595. The Clio Dynamique MediaNav TCe 90 S&S petrol engine costs £13,345. Metallic paint adds £495.
Buying discounts: Current Lifestyle Europe offers from £11,995 to £14,995.
Fuel economy: MPG is Urban 51.4, Extra Urban 72.4 and Combined 62.8 which means it’s an economic car to run.
Insurance group: 8 ie should prove fairly cheap to insure.
Road tax/VED: 0
Safety: Scored 4-5 stars on the European New Car Assessment Programme http://www.euroncap.com/tests/renault_clio_2005/220.aspx
Reliability: A mid-range number 101 in the cars chart in the Reliability Index – this is based on claims made under warranty so again, it’s based on older models.
Environmental C02 rating: 104gsm.