If you've got one eye on running costs, Renault's new dCi 100 might be your Clio of choice. Slotting in above the existing dCi 65 and 80, the 100bhp model is Renault’s attempt at a sporty diesel and, with the same 148lb ft of torque as the 182 – but produced some 3350rpm lower – on paper it seems to have the credentials.
All dCi 100s feature new sportier front-bumper styling and, with the cheapest Dynamique trim, you also get standard alloys and a small tail spoiler to give a suitably racy look.
On the road, the new engine impresses, not only with its lively performance – with pace to match the 1.4 16v petrol – but also the linear power delivery courtesy of its multi-vane variable-nozzle turbocharger. But the biggest attraction, and the reason most buyers will be looking for this model in the first place, is its impressive frugality. It returns the same 66mpg as the dCi 65 and even fewer emissions, pumping out a tiny 113g/km of CO2.
The cable-operated five-speed gearbox comes from the Mégane and is light and slick. The ideal gearing also allows you to exploit the little Clio’s impressive motorway refinement.
Get off the motorway and the diesel even seems to have learned a few lessons from its Renaultsport brethren. The decent body control and easily adjustable handling make it an entertaining B-road companion.
Unfortunately, by trying to market the dCi 100 as a ‘warm’ hatch, Renault has something of a problem: the £11,990 Skoda Fabia vRS. Admittedly, the Clio starts at just £11,063, but add air-con and five doors to match the Fabia’s spec and you’re already over £12k. And while the Renault is a more entertaining steer than the Skoda, the vRS has the looks, power and performance – not to mention interior quality – to lure most sporty drivers’ money away.