First DriveFirst taste of reskinned Clio on UK roads reveals a car that's certainly no worse than before but not considerably better
First DriveThe popular Renault Clio receives a mid-life facelift and the option of a new 108bhp diesel engine. There’s plenty of punch, but it’s pricey in this guise
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.