What is it?
The model that's most likely to be the best-seller in the new Renault Clio 4 line-up. The Clio dCi 90 gets the latest version of the firm's familiar 1.5-litre turbodiesel dCi engine, now with more torque, better economy and lower CO2 emissions than ever before.
The 1461cc direct-injection unit has headline figures of 89bhp at 4000rpm and 162lb ft at 1750rpm, some 15lb ft before than before. Economy is up by 12.5mpg over the engine in the Clio 3 to 83.1mpg, while CO2 emissions are down by 16g/km to 90g/km.
And next year there'll be an even more frugal 'ECO' version of the engine, which produces the same power and torque, but delivers class-leading economy and CO2 figures of 88.3mpg and 83g/km respectively, achieved without any electrical assistance.
The engine is tested here in Dynamique MediaNav trim, which is tipped to take up the largest proportion of Clio 4 sales. Included on this trim level are 16in alloys and an exterior styling pack, with a 7in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav among the interior's standard kit list.
What's it like?
A very well rounded package. The commonly used diesel engine has always impressed with its refinement and drivability, and those two traits are only enhanced in its most up-to-date application in the Clio 4.
It's certainly punchier than ever. Acceleration feels quicker than the claimed 0-62mph of 11.9sec suggests. The engine is predictably at its noisiest under hard acceleration, but so quiet and refined is it under normal loads that you'd struggle to tell that it's fuelled from the black pump.
It spins at around 2000rpm at motorway speeds, and it's also a tractable engine — much more so than the 0.9 petrol — with a wide torque band, meaning you won't be forever reaching for the slick five-speed manual gearbox.
If the 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is the powerplant with fun and character, then the diesel is the more mature, more sensible performer, something that's reflected in its handling. The diesel adds 62kg to the kerb weight over the zesty petrol model, and it feels less agile as a result, although the steering and responses are still sharp enough. Just don't expect to have a big grin on your face to match the Clio's front-end styling when you feel in the mood to push on.