From £10,855
Neat chassis, but too slow to feel like a warm hatch

Our Verdict

Renault Clio
Distinctive styling details are taken from the showstopping Renault Dezir concept car

A multi-talented contender that can stand comparison with the best

What is it?

It's Renault's newly revised Clio, in GT form. First used on the Megane, GT spec usually includes a bit of extra kit and some sporting styling add-ons, but no extra poke. That almost applies here too, but the Clio does get a new-to-the-range 1.6-litre petrol engine with 128bhp; it's a version of the motor already seen in the Renaultsport Twingo. A diesel-engined version is also available.

In the Clio's case, Renaultsport does appear to have done more than supply the odd motorsport-related badge, because the GT's dampers are 15 per cent stiffer than a regular Clio's. The power steering has been recalibrated too.

GT spec includes 16in alloy wheels, a gloss black front grille, black headlamp surrounds, twin exhausts and a rear spoiler. Inside there are sports seats and aluminium pedal covers.

What's it like?

Not bad at all. The Clio's tweaked chassis is a good one; it's game enough to hang on on the twisty stuff, but revamped dampers (which feature an extra valve in their system) keep the ride quality in check while cruising on a motorway.

The Clio's electric power steering system still isn't great on feel, but it's a little heavier than before, and all the better for it. The Clio is still willing to change direction pretty swiftly, so there's fun to be had here.

However, while the Twingo-sourced powerplant might be strong enough in Renault's baby, it feels a little underpowered in the GT. Frankly, you need to work pretty hard to maintain decent progress on a twisty road, and if hills are involved then you'll need frequent downshifts. A slightly thrashy tone does the engine few favours either.

Inside, meanwhile, the Clio's cabin is neat enough, but it's starting to feel a little date and low-rent compared with plusher rivals such as the Ford Fiesta.

Should I buy one?

Committed Clio owners will probably find the GT a useful addition to the range; it's a little quicker than regular cars (if not a patch on the Renaultsport 200), handles well and has just enough motorsport-related pomp to look the part.

It's just a pity, then, that the petrol engine feels too gutless to live up to even the faintest promise of performance. The GT's 'premium price' takes it alarmingly close to the Fiesta Zetec S, and while Ford's star doesn't feel any quicker, its fabulous steering and trendy cabin give it greater appeal.

Join the debate

Comments
10

8 May 2009

Why would you consider this when the Abarth Grande Punto with vastly superior performance is only £13266?

I spose if there was 4k off the list it maybe of interest, but still..




8 May 2009

As a concept, I love it. A good old fashioned warm hatch, insurance friendly rating and a reasonable suspension set up (e.g. something above and beyond the standard cars). I agree the engine could do with a little more poke, but in some ways, this isn't what this car is about.

The Fiesta Zetec, as much as it is a good car, just doesn't have the sporting intent (look, marketing, describe it how you will), and for a lot of people that will be enough to put them off. You'd be surprised how much a decent set of seat, tweak suspension and a couple of plastic add ons sell a car. Just look back to the MG ZR in its various guises.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

8 May 2009

I don't know why they are bothering TBH, Renault had the 2.0 138 Dynamique S and that didn't sell and was quitly dropped so I don't expect the GT to sell either.

8 May 2009

I remember the good old days when 130 bhp in a supermini was considered a very fast car.

Still, they weighed around 800kgs then...

8 May 2009

[quote TegTypeR]TegTypeR wrote the following post at May 08, 2009 9:07 AM:

As a concept, I love it. A good old fashioned warm hatch, insurance friendly rating and a reasonable suspension set up (e.g. something above and beyond the standard cars). I agree the engine could do with a little more poke, but in some ways, this isn't what this car is about.

[/quote]

I am currently driving a 206 XS and it is essentially as you have described a warm hatch, Teg; sport bumpers, a lairy colour, sport suspension and a 1.6 with 90 brake. Not rocket-ship fast but quick enough. It also has sports seats, a garish but colourful interior and some extra kit and is great for me at 20 as it costs me only £400 to insure. When I come to getting a new car next year after Uni, my plan was to look at the Fiesta Zetec-S, Swift Sport and possibly the Clio GT...having read this review I am less inclined to since it doesn't seem to fit the bill of looking good, going well and driving like its bigger, fully flesged Sport brother. Next summer will be my first foray into a demi-GTi and I, as this car's target market, want less weight, less kit and a better power to weight ratio. Renault have locked me out with the sheer size.

9 May 2009

Why don't Renault just co-develop a 1.4 turbo with 140-150bhp??? If they did that Clio would be a much better!!!!

9 May 2009

Interesting : sport suspensions, sport seats...

Why not the same with the good 2.0 138 bhp?

9 May 2009

[quote TegTypeR]plastic add ons sell a car. Just look back to the MG ZR in its various guises.[/quote]

errrrrr....it was more the change of name that increased sales with this one i think :).

9 May 2009

[quote timmmmy]Why don't Renault just co-develop a 1.4 turbo with 140-150bhp??? If they did that Clio would be a much better!!!![/quote]

They already have, a 1.4TCE giving 130bhp, to be launched in the Scenic/Grand and to follow in the Megane.

11 May 2009

[quote Agitprop]Renault have locked me out with the sheer size.[/quote]

As usual, cars just keep getting bigger - I got in the back of my sisters new shape 5 door Fiesta over the weekend, the thing is huge!

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