Driven in a sedate and sensible manner, the Clio impresses with its ability to soak up bumps like a larger car. It may still get a little bobbly over particularly scarred surfaces, but the 17in wheels of our test car won’t have helped. Besides, there’s only so much you can do with a simple twist beam rear end.
It feels like a bigger car on the motorway. At speed, it offers a great feeling of stability that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. While you could argue that a Skoda Fabia also does this very well, the Clio is the more enjoyable car to drive on a winding road.
The faster steering rack gives the Clio a little bit more agility without making it feel nervous, and it’s still easy to place the nose exactly where you want it. There may not be a great deal of feedback, but it’s still possible to have some fun.
Despite the soft springing, body control is good and there isn’t too much roll. Admittedly the lighter-nosed TCe petrol feels even keener to corner hard, but the diesel is happy enough to raise its game when you up the pace.
Once inside, you’ll probably be even harder pushed to notice what Renault has changed. Visibly, there are some new seat fabrics (mmmm, velour), matt chrome instead of shiny chrome and the new infotainment system on base models. No, you have to get a bit touchy-feely to notice the differences. Contact points have been made plusher, with softer plastics and different leather for the steering wheel. Yes, there is still hard plastic if you go looking for it, but the bits that matter feel better.
As for space in the back, it’s exactly as before. It’s not bad, but taller adults may find their head jammed against the ceiling and knees digging into the front seat, especially with a similarly lofty individual up front.
Should I buy one?
While Renault hasn’t changed a great deal overall with the Clio, it’s fair to say that it’s done enough to ensure this is a supermini that’s well worth considering. The addition of the 108bhp diesel gives easy-going, flexible performance that allows the car to be comfortable around town or at speed.
Our only bugbear is that this engine is only available in top spec Dynamique S Nav trim. That means a hefty price tag only £1700 less than that of the Renault Sport Clio 200, so unless you really have to have the additional 20 nags, we’d probably stick to the slower but cheaper dCi 90.
Renault Clio Dynamique S Nav dCi 110
Location France; On sale September; Price £17,755; Engine 4 cyls, 1461cc, diesel; Power 108bhp Torque 192Ib ft at 1750rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1204kg; 0-62mph 11.2sec; Top speed 121mph; Economy 80.7mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 90g/km, 22%