2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
The Clio has blossomed into Renault's most successful model. The fourth generation of the small car is quite sporty, even with the basic engine.
Small cars are increasingly becoming lifestyle vehicles. Countless color variations, body stickers and matching design accessories are intended to attract especially young or young-at-heart customers. Manufacturers pay dearly for most of this. The Renault Clio is no exception. But what is left of the French "Volks" car if you remove all the decorations?
Sporty design for the Renault Clio
The Clio is currently the most important model in Europe in the range of the ailing Renault brand. In 2012, the French sold 244,280 units, significantly more than the ex-bestseller Mégane (199,167 units). In the European bestseller list the Clio recently landed in fifth place, just behind its segment colleagues VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and Opel Corsa. The fourth generation, which has been available since November last year, has to do it at least as well. Which should be a difficult task due to the European new car crisis.
But the Clio goes to work confidently. Even in the basic engine we drive without design gimmicks and with only 54 kW / 75 PS, the small car looks almost like a sports car. The headlights pulled far into the sides, a flat windshield, narrow side windows and the coupé-like sloping roof, in combination with the swing over the rear wheels, create a dynamic that is rarely found in the otherwise often sober small car class. The sporty impression is reinforced by the cleverly hidden rear doors, the handles of which are located in the cover of the C-pillar. When it comes to the exterior design, the Clio can clearly score points; he doesn't need any body films or light alloy wheels for this.
Well-known entry-level petrol engine for the Renault Clio
The downside of the beautiful shape are functional weaknesses, especially poor rearward visibility. When maneuvering backwards, the driver can admire the wide C-pillar in detail, but not much of the surroundings through the small rear and narrow side windows. The space for passengers and luggage is okay, but the front seats could use a more generous leg rest, as in many other small cars.
The Clio's parade engine is the new three-cylinder petrol engine with a lively character and low fuel consumption. Unfortunately, the small car then costs 14,400 euros, which is why we have made do with the entry-level engine. The 55 kW / 75 PS 1.2-liter petrol engine is in principle already known from the predecessor, but also goes well with the fourth edition. Despite moderate paper values, it looks surprisingly virile - also thanks to the relatively short five-speed transmission it moves the small car quickly through city traffic. The sloppy and non-binding pedals immediately spoil the lively impression. A little more resistance and a better defined grinding point would have done well here.
Renault Clio not a food lover
Even on the autobahn you do not become a traffic obstacle, but you have to reckon with increased consumption, as there is no engine speed-lowering sixth gear. But otherwise, the four-cylinder is a real gulp with a test consumption of 7.2 liters.
When it comes to driving behavior, you have to get rid of prejudices. Instead of French gentleness, agility was probably the development requirement here. In combination with the small engine, however, the rather stiff chassis can hardly unfold on the country road, on the highway the susceptibility to transverse joints is a problem. And the Renault is just uncomfortable on poor roads. On the other hand, the steering is positive, as it looks much less synthetic than its predecessor.
Competition for Renault Clio in-house
The bottom line is that the entry-level Clio does little wrong in the tough competition in the small car class, but apart from its design, it cannot score with any particular strengths. The starting price of 12,800 euros is also not a bargain - a comparable VW Polo costs only 170 euros more. And a Dacia Sandero, which shares the engine with the Clio, costs just 6990 euros. At least for the basic version without lifestyle chic, this is a serious challenge. (SP-X)