Renault will launch a new Clio supermini this autumn, and we've been driving some early prototypes
Matt Prior
12 April 2019

The fifth-generation Renault Clio will go on sale in October – and we've had a chance to have a first drive in a late pre-production prototype.

It was at a test track in France, alongside engineers from the project, and they were pretty brief stints in early cars, bagged up with disguises inside and out. But there are things worth telling you.

For one, you can look past the camouflage, because we’ve since seen the new Clio internally and externally. It’s rather evolutionary on the outside – this being design chief Laurens van den Acker’s second time designing a Clio – but very different inside.

Improvements in material choice are the biggest news; surfaces within reach of the driver are typically soft-touch. And Renault has made what van den Acker calls a “mature” choice to keep some controls – the heating system and such like – away from the central infotainment touchscreen, which will be standard. That's an idea we like.

The new Clio is shorter than the current model but only by 14mm, so at 4048mm long, it's pretty much the class-average size. The body-in-white of the new CMF-B platform, which the Clio is the first Renault to use, is 22kg lighter than current car’s, and the new architecture will allow the introduction of a mild hybrid powertrain in 2020.

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Renault Clio

A multi-talented contender that can stand comparison with the best superminis on the roads today, even if it isn't quite the best

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But so far, we’ve tried the 99bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, the 129bhp 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol and the 114bhp 1.5-litre diesel the car will be launched with.

The 1.0 feels smooth and drives through its five-speed manual pleasingly, with a slightly thrummy noise as you rev it out. The 1.3 can be had with a manual or a seven-speed dual clutch automatic 'box, as was fitted to our test car. It's a quieter engine, and the ‘box likes to keep it that way if it’s left to its own devices. The diesel motor, with a six-speed manual ‘box, is heavier and therefore makes the Clio feel less agile.

It’s hard to tell too much from a brief steer, but there’s a maturity to the Clio's driving experience that feels pitched somewhere between the agility of the Ford Fiesta and the stolid demeanour of the Volkswagen Polo.

More reviews will come in June, when we’ll have a go behind the wheel of a finished model. But this drive, matched with the newfound interior quality, suggests there’s promise.

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Comments
3

13 April 2019

 Anyone remember what size the Clio started out?, exactly, this is a middle aged Clio if you like, put a bit of weight round the middle, a bit slower, well , this is what the Clio will be, we, the buyers a bit bigger, so Renault have just done what’s normal, made it bigger...

Peter Cavellini.

13 April 2019
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Anyone remember what size the Clio started out?, exactly, this is a middle aged Clio if you like, put a bit of weight round the middle, a bit slower, well , this is what the Clio will be, we, the buyers a bit bigger, so Renault have just done what’s normal, made it bigger...

Judging by those I see on the road, it appeals to a rather more 'middle aged' driver than the the trim, previous generations of Clio. I approve of the more "mature" approach towards what you put on the touchscreens: Thankfully manufacturers such as Renault and Mazda are putting some thought into this rather than blindly following the fashionable route of less safety conscious brands such as JLR, Volvo, PSA, and the Volkswagen group.

15 April 2019
catnip wrote:

Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Anyone remember what size the Clio started out?, exactly, this is a middle aged Clio if you like, put a bit of weight round the middle, a bit slower, well , this is what the Clio will be, we, the buyers a bit bigger, so Renault have just done what’s normal, made it bigger...

Judging by those I see on the road, it appeals to a rather more 'middle aged' driver than the the trim, previous generations of Clio. I approve of the more "mature" approach towards what you put on the touchscreens: Thankfully manufacturers such as Renault and Mazda are putting some thought into this rather than blindly following the fashionable route of less safety conscious brands such as JLR, Volvo, PSA, and the Volkswagen group.

You left out Tesla.

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