The 2020 Renault Clio is now the supermini to beat
Itís hard to believe that the Renault Clio has been around for 30 years and in that time itís become the best-selling French car ever made. Along the way itís won two European Car of the Year awards while still being the best-selling supermini in Europe. Nowís there a new one and it may very well be the best supermini you can buy.
It may well be a top-seller in France but here in Britain the Clio has always had to play second fiddle to the impressive Ford Fiesta. In an attempt to finally overthrow the Fiesta from its thrown Renault have launched the fifth generation Clio. While it may look pretty identical to the old car it is in fact totally new.
So, whatís different about the new model? Well, the design is a little more rounded and sharper in some places and it all somehow looks a bit classier than the old car. Itís even built on a brand new platform. Whilst the outside may look very similar to the old car itís only when you sit inside that youíll really notice the difference. We have to say that the design in the cabin looks fantastic. It has a great mix of minimalism and fun. Another reason why this interior is far better than the old one is that it has a lot more quality. Ok, there are a few scratchy plastics dotted around the place but overall the fit and finish inside is fantastic. There are loads of soft-touch materials used throughout the cabin, so much so weíd even say itís better than what youíd find in the Volkswagen Polo and definitely better than youíd find in an Audi A1. Another thing we love about the interior are the little touches like the Knowles effect on the steering stalks, climate control and gear lever. Itís these small touch points that Renault has really focussed on and the fabrics used in here are good too. The fabric on the seats feel great as does the leather on the steering wheel and handbrake lever. Yet another thing we like is that Renault have finally ditched that rather stupid obsession with putting the cruise control buttons dotted around the cabin. In the 2020 Clio theyíve just placed them on the steering wheel where you really need them. With regards to infotainment, basic Play trim level cars get a 4.2 inch screen while the mid-level iconic gets a 7.0 inch screen. Overall the infotainment system works quite well. Itís certainly not as good as Volkswagen PoloĎs but itís definitely on par with the one seen in the Ford Fiesta. If the 4.2 inch screen is too small for you then the top of the range trim gets you a 7.2 inch portrait screen and comes with digital dials too. Practicality-wise, youíll find a couple of cup holders a nice storage tray in the centre console with a couple of handy USB charge ports. You also get more storage under the central armrest and fantastically sized door bins. Finally, the glovebox is of a decent size also.
As of typing there are four flavours of Clio available. Thereís the Play trim which gets you a 4.2 inch infotainment screen, LED headlights, 16 inch alloys and cruise control. The Iconic trim gets you the 7.2 inch screen, sat-nav, diamond cut alloys, keyless entry and rear parking sensors. Meanwhile, the S Edition gets a 9.3 inch screen with digital dials, parking sensors and a rear camera. Finally, the RS Line gets sportier styling.
While space in the front is rather generous at the back itís not quite so good. Even adults sized around 5ft 10 will find their knees brushing the back of the front seats. The headroom isnít great either but having said all this thereís probably a similar amount of space back here than there is in a Ford Fiesta and thereís definitely more space back here than in the Peugeot 208. If youíre someone thatís going to need a lot of space in your supermini youíre probably better off going for the SEAT Ibiza. Itís not all bad news at the back of the Clio. In fact, there are a couple of nice touches back here such as pockets on the backs of the seats and IsoFix points on the outer seats.
While space in the back may be average thereís enormous amounts in the boot. Thereís actually more space in the Clioís boot than both the Fiesta and Ibiza and itís even larger than the Volkswagen GolfĎs. This is mainly because the Clio has such a deep floor which is great for overall space but it can be a little tricky lifting out heavier items because of the large lip.
With regards to the engine line up, thereís a 1.0 litre three cylinder petrol engine providing 71 brake horse power (bhp) and a 5-speed manual gearbox. Thereís also a 1.0 litre three cylinder turbo with 99 bhp. Thereís also a 1.3 turbo petrol with 129 bhp that comes with a snappy 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Finally, for diesel lovers thereís an 84 bhp 1.5 litre unit.
So, how does the Clio drive? Itís probably best to start off with the not so good thing Ė and thatís the engine. The car we tested was the 1.0 litre three cylinder turbo. With its 99 bhp itís on par with its rivals. However, it doesnít have quite as much torque as the Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza. What this means is that it feels just a little too sluggish. 0 to 60 takes 11.2 seconds which is a second slower than the Fiesta and 1.2 seconds slower than the Ibiza. Itís small numbers but when you drive it just feels that the in-gear acceleration takes a little bit longer than it does in other cars. Surprisingly, the diesel engine is the cheapest to run thanks to an acclaimed 67.2 miles to the gallon (mpg). The only downside is that youíre going to have to pay more upfront for a car fitted with it. The problem with the diesel is that without a turbo fitted it just feels too sluggish meaning that the 99 bhp engine is the best petrol returning around 54 mpg.
Another thing weíre not massively keen on is the gearbox. Itís certainly a lot better than the one found in the old car but itís still a little bit baggy. The change quality is just a little bit imprecise at times and while this is no deal-breaker itís just that other cars, like the Fiesta and VW Polo, do it just that little bit better. Speaking of the Fiesta, the Clio doesnít quite have that font-end bite that you find in the Ford. Itís perfectly grippy but it just doesnít have that crispness that you find in the Fiesta. Saying this, we are nit-picking a little because overall the Clio is still a really nice car to drive and considerably nicer to drive than something like a Citroen C3 or VW Polo. The area where the Clio really does shine is the ride and refinement. This is a car thatís super quiet on the motorway and provides very little wind or tyre noise. Weíd even go as far as saying itís so refined that itís actually better than the class above.
If you compare the Clio with the Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza then on the whole itís cheaper, its interior is of a better quality and it has a far superior boot. While itís not the fastest supermini around, and the Fiesta is slightly sharper to drive, the Clio is more comfortable and sill very decent to drive. Weíd go as far as saying that the 2020 Clio is the new supermini all others now have to beat. If youíd like to take a look at some used Renault Clio cars for sale then head to DesperateSeller.co.uk where we have a large selection.