Can the sportiest diesel Clio justify its high asking price?

What is it?

This is the most sporting diesel model in the facelifted Clio range, the GT.

The GT badge hints at its sporting credentials and it certainly looks the part, with extra kit including 16-inch alloy wheels, twin exhausts, a new rear spoiler and a smart black front grille, while power comes from Renault’s 106bhp, 177lb ft 1.5-litre dCi unit.

Cosmetic changes aside, it also gets stiffer dampers than a regular Clio as well as recalibrated power steering.

What’s it like?

The GT feels like a quality product and on the whole it offers an enjoyable driving experience. Performance is always brisk rather than outright quick and sporty probably isn’t a word you would use to describe it.

Off the line, the Clio feels sluggish but once the revs hit 2000rpm, things begin to improve. The healthy slug of torque ensures it pulls well through all six gears, but at 1200kg, this is a heavy supermini and more power overall would transform it into car into one which is sporty to drive as well as to look at.

We drove the GT for around 350 miles across an even split of motorway cruising, B-roads and city centre traffic. Its average fuel consumption always hovered around 45mpg. This is a long way down on the claimed 61.4mpg but still a respectable figure. Its 55 litre fuel tank means trips to the pumps will be infrequent.

The inclusion of sixth gear is a welcome addition on the motorway and ensures that extra bit of refinement needed to make the Clio a comfortable cruiser. Its CO2 figure of 123g/km is a bit disappointing considering a 3g/km drop would qualify it for cheaper road tax.

The ride certainly leans towards sporty without ever being too firm, although on more abrasive surfaces comfort is sacrificed. It’s certainly not at Renaultsport Clio 200 levels, however. The GT responds well to being driven hard on B-roads around and the steering, although a little artificial in feel, is well weighted and the GT can bring a smile to your face. There are no problems to report when driving the Clio in town or in traffic either.

Its interior, although not class leading, is still attractive. The GT sports seats support you well and the leather steering wheel and gearstick feel comfortable and suitably sporting. Unlike in more basic Clios, the GT’s steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake so it’s quite easy to find a decent driving position.

Should I buy one?

That depends. If you fancy sacrificing a bit of economy in exchange for a bit more poke and some sporty looks, then you can’t really go too badly wrong with the Renault. Performance isn’t exactly at Reanultsport Clio 200 levels, but it is brisk enough and is a real pleasure on the motorways.

But there’s one big sticking point – its price. Prospective buyers will want to tick options such as ESP, climate control, Bluetooth and sat-nav which were fitted to our test car. This leaves you with a car costing more than £16,500.

Is there enough to tempt you away from the class leading Ford Fiesta Zetec S 1.6 TDCi? Although the Renault makes a strong case for itself, the Fiesta offers a better cabin, ride, handling and steering, as well as being more desirable, for similar money.

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Death89 4 April 2013

MPG on DCI 106

I came accross this article by chance by chance looking for the new clio review and had to have a look as this is the newer version of the car I own (I have a 56 plate Clio 3 Dynamique S dci 106 pre-facelift) and never, even when going as fast as it is safe to go on windy country lanes or in traffic jams through cities, has the mpg gone any lower than 52-53 and it regularly returns 57-64 depending on how much I have to go through country lanes - with the air con on! The reviewer must have been taking it to the redline for every gear to get it that low... how about some realistic driving next time instead of peddling misinformation?

artill 5 September 2009

Re: Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 106 GT

Surely you buy a diesel supermini to save cash. So how does £16k save you money. And if 45 mpg is realistic you would probably find a petrol version just as cheap to run, much more enviromentally friendly, and nicer to drive. If you want a clio, do as others have said. Buy a petrol version.

Submariner Redux 5 September 2009

Re: Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 106 GT

230SL wrote:
It is the £16k price tag that is worrying for a small family car

It is expensive, though that price includes a bunch of extras which, despite what the reviewer thinks, only a naive private buyer would spring for. (Factory sat-nav and bluetooth are pointless on a car like this in an era of low-cost decent quality add-ons like Tom Tom which transfer from car to car).

The sweet spot of the Clio range, the one I would probably go for, is a lot cheaper, the turbo petrol 1.2 TCe 100 Dynamique at just over 12 grand