Pleasant enough, but the top-level specification pushes the price too high.
What's new?
Thanks to a blend of safety, refinement and space - not to mention the title Car of the Year 2006 - the new Renault Clio has got off to a healthy start. This five-door variant will only boost sales further – Renault reckons one in four Clio customers will choose it over the three-door.
Because the Clio already has the longest wheelbase in the class (2575mm), the five-door is no bigger than the three-door, the extra doors blending well into the shape.
Take a back seat and you discover there is ample shoulder-, head- and legroom, though the middle seat is tight for adults. The cabin is quiet even at speed, with minimal wind and road noise intruding.What's it like?
This is our first taste of the Clio’s four-speed automatic gearbox, currently only available in the 1.6-litre petrol. The engine isn’t particularly powerful, although it does have a smooth, linear power delivery. The transmission, however, can feel a bit clunky and slow in full auto mode. Unusually, it’s more comfortable in semi-automatic mode, where it reacts quickly to manual changes.
Our test car came in top-spec Initiale trim, which is exclusive to five-door Clios and includes cream-coloured leather with dark edging, alloy wheels, wood trim, key-card entry, sun blinds and rear parking sensors. All that kit makes the top Clio a pleasant place to be in, but then at £15,050 including automatic gearbox it ought to feel special.Should I buy one?
We reckon the Clio works better as a more modest car in cheaper trim levels: it feels like a classy supermini even without wood and leather.Jon Quirk

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