Ever since the late 1940s, Renault’s range has featured an unbroken line of interesting small cars, of which the Clio has been one of the most successful.

More than 12 million have found homes and, along the way, the Clio has found and enjoyed a youthful, vibrant image

Earlier variants of the Clio deserved that rep, too: being agile, neatly designed, compact, engineered for some dynamism and intelligently marketed.

But – and Renault wasn’t alone in this – during the mid 2000s, when the Clio III arrived, some of that purity was lost. The Clio became bigger and heavier, and went searching – with honourable intent – for more refinement and class, growing up with its customers. 

With the extra refinement it found, however, it lost something, as did several of its peers during the past decade. Out went a bit of what Renault used to dub the ‘va-va-voom’

Which brings us to Clio IV: it’s notably leaner and cleaner than its predecessor. It is also offered with a range of engines, including a frugal 0.9-litre three-cylinder TCe petrol engine and a 1.5-litre dCi diesel, and a decent range of kit.

Question is, has all of that reintroduced some of the joie de vivre? Let’s find out.

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