Currently reading: Hybrid gamble by Renault means Clio can outlive Ford Fiesta
Refreshed Mk5 supermini will be sold solely with a hybrid powertrain when it arrives later this year

The Renault Clio, Britain’s 10th-best selling car, looks certain to outlast top-selling superminis like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo here by several years – because of a far-sighted decision taken a year ago by Renault’s UK management.

At the beginning of 2022 Renault UK managing director Guillaume Sicard and his team drew up a radical plan to offer only electrified Renault models in the UK in future, encouraged by the fact that local buyers have proved to be keener on hybrids than their counterparts across Europe. 

The result is that the Mk5.5 three-model Clio line-up, due late this August, will have just one powertrain: the 143bhp 1.6-litre E-Tech hybrid.

Renault, which has offered a less sophisticated hybrid powertrain in Clio for the past two years, is already seeing positive results. Forward orders for UK cars are running at about 75% hybrid, whereas the total market’s take-up, although rising, is less than 20%.

“When you’re a small player in a sophisticated car market, as we are in the UK,” Sicard explains, “you have to do something strong, something special, to stand out from the crowd. We decided that early electrification could be our thing.”

Clio1v2 750

“Everyone knows there will eventually be no other choice for car buyers but a pure EV – in 2030 or 2035, depending who you listen to. But we calculated that many people were doubtful about making the full commitment right now. Maybe they could do it with their next purchase, and in the meantime they could experience many of the benefits by buying an E-Tech full-hybrid model, which offers up to 80% pure-electric motoring in the city and is very clean and frugal.”

Sicard agrees that his idea has been greatly aided by the perfectly timed development of the E-Tech powertrain, an engine-and-two-motors layout being ideal for for superminis.

Already present in other models from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, it gives Renault a key advantage over the likes of Ford and Volkswagen. But it still takes a bold commitment.   

Renault clio e tech full hybrid dynamic

Aided by the electrification decision, Renault's UK market share has already advanced about 9% over corresponding figures for 2022, and that’s before the New Cio (as they’re labelling the revised car) makes a worthwhile contribution. 

Sicard admits his plan may have looked for a while like a pretty big gamble. After all, around 65% of all cars sold in the UK are still pure-ICE. But for Renault UK and for future supermini buyers, it looks like paying off, big time.


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Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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yvesferrer 20 April 2023

The UK is used a s test-market for that vehicle.

For now, there are no plans to sell it elsewhere, EVEN in France!

Source: 'L'Argus'.

superstevie 19 April 2023

That 80% of city driving, does that mean when travelling or when stationary? I have a Corolla and EV driving vs EV time is very different. One benefit it has over any standard stop start system that ive had before is that it keeps the aircon on