Clio gets Twingo’s turbo engine and it’s a hidden gem

What is it?

Most new models arrive with almost ridiculous amounts of fanfare. But occasionally they merely creep onto the price lists, presumably hoping that someone will notice.

The new Clio 1.2 Turbo is one such model. It’s just gone on sale in the most discreet way possible. Which is a shame, considering that it’s a strong contender for being the best Renault supermini of all. And yes, I’m including the 197 in that list.

The motor that’s been unceremoniously slipped into the Clio is the same one that powers the range-topping Twingo. Basically it’s a blown version of the familiar 1.2-litre 16-valver. So it’s good for 100bhp and 107lb ft of torque, optimised at a lowly 3000rpm. And all the while achieving 47.9mpg, according to official combined figures.

What’s it like?

On the move this new Clio reminded me why everyone is starting to gain a huge appreciation of the new breed of small turbo petrol engines that are starting to appear.

Considering the 1149cc capacity it’s almost indecently punchy in any of its five gears and stays gamely refined too – even when you start creeping towards the red line. Best of all there’s a zest and a zip to it, that’s lacking from all the Clios, save the hot shoe 197.

Sadly it doesn’t have the same chassis tweaks as the hottest Clio. So while it rides and handles neatly and tidily, it’s not as sharp as a Corsa or Fiesta. And the steering feels as wooden as ever.

Should I buy one?

Yes. The Clio TCE has one of the best supermini engines, is well priced and in the right colour it looks great. Perhaps Renault should shout about it.

Chas Hallett

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