A weekend spent in the road test team’s Volkswagen T-Roc R (arriving on these pages in a few weeks’ time) highlighted just how much progress Renault has made in the technology department. VW’s digital dash might be more detailed but, to these eyes, the French supermini has the higher-resolution reversing camera. The T-Roc’s three-button key fob also feels positively antiquated when the Clio gets keyless entry and exit with its credit card-style remote control.
I was expecting the T-Roc’s EA888 engine to put the more modest TCe 130 firmly in the shade, but it’s actually done the opposite: you can use more of the Clio’s power more of the time, which means there’s more fun to be had at road-legal speeds. I’m a lot happier with the Clio’s indicated economy, too – I think 50mpg should be achievable with little effort.
Hands-free lockdown No need to fish in your pocket to secure the doors, just step away and the Clio locks down securely
Volume relegated to a stalk Infotainment controls are out of view and fiddly to adjust – but still better than touchscreen buttons.
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Life with a Renault Clio: Month 1
Welcoming the Clio to the fleet – 1st July 2020
Renault’s most popular model has been a sales success across Europe for four generations now, although it hasn’t managed to claim the supermini top spot here in the UK for quite some time. We Brits just can’t seem to shake our love for the Ford Fiesta – which is a shame for Renault, because the Clio’s claim to the throne has never looked stronger than at the start of its fifth generation.
In a group test back in the spring, the new Clio proved that it could rub shoulders with both the Fiesta and the Volkswagen Polo as one of the best superminis on sale. At the time, we said that we could easily recommend it without needing to add any caveats – something that arguably wasn’t the case with the previous Clio. So what has changed?
The familiar styling might suggest a relatively modest upgrade, but this Clio now sits on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s all-new CMF-B platform, which also underpins the latest Renault Captur and Nissan Juke crossovers. When we road tested a mid-range Clio last year, it revealed a new-found level of dynamism that was up among the best in the class, along with a more driver-friendly cabin, a vastly improved level of perceived quality and upgraded technology and safety systems that made it seem like fantastic value for money.
The question now is whether that’s true across the board. To find out, we’ve added a more expensive derivative to our long-term fleet for a longer stint behind the wheel.
The TCe 130 we’ve chosen is currently the most potent petrol on offer, with its 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 128bhp and a healthy 177lb ft of torque from just 1600rpm. That puts it ahead of the equivalent Polo in the performance stakes and on an even keel with the three-cylinder Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa but behind the more powerful mild-hybrid 1.0-litre Fiesta that was introduced last month.