From £12,7508
Sportiest Clio (at present) looks the part and drives impressively, but the cheaper 1.0-litre engine is still the sweet spot of the range

Our Verdict

Renault Clio 2019 review - hero front

Overhauled Clio opens Renault’s door to autonomous driving, but how good it is to drive yourself?

Simon Davis
30 October 2019
Renault Clio 130 RS Line 2019 UK

What is it?

For now, this 129bhp Clio RS Line is the sportiest version of Renault’s all new, fifth-generation supermini. A properly souped-up, Fiesta ST-rivalling Renault Sport version will probably come along at some point, though of course Renault’s people would neither confirm nor deny whether such a car is currently in the pipeline.

Anyway, beneath this new Clio’s svelte, mildly sporting exterior sits an all new platform, and a 1.3-litre four-pot motor. The former is Renault Alliance’s latest CMF-B architecture (the Clio is the first Renault to make use of it), while the latter is the same turbocharged power plant as can be found in the likes of the Captur, Megane and Scenic.

Along with its 129bhp, it develops a hearty 177lb ft at a lowly 1600rpm, all of which is directed to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. While there’s no manual option for this particular engine, the Clio RS Line is also available with a smaller 99bhp 1.0-litre triple, which can be had with a five-speed stick-shift or a CVT.

As for suspension, the RS Line runs the same configuration as lower-order Clios, which is to say it’s got MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear. So while it might be sporting in appearance, and while it might have a £20,295 list price, it’s not really a bonafide competitor for the likes of the Suzuki Swift Sport or very basic versions of the Fiesta ST.

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What's it like?

Instead, this car is more about offering quite a lot of equipment for the money, all of which wrapped up in a stylish, eye-catching exterior - a job it does very well indeed. In addition to the arsenal of active safety equipment that’s standard across the Clio range, RS Line cars get a large 9.3in touchscreen infotainment system with all mod-cons; LED headlights with automatic high and low-beam function; a rear-view camera and front parking sensors; and a moodier, sportier-feeling interior treatment.

That interior is one of the new Clio’s highlights. Not only does it look sharp and modern, greater use of soft-touch plastics mean it feels far better than its predecessor too. Adjustability is great, ease of use generally excellent - though the sharp new screen can lack some responsiveness at times. Space in the second row is a touch miserly - particularly when it comes to headroom - but the 391-litre boot is a class-leading effort from Renault.

It handles well, too. Really quite well, in fact, possibly even as well as a Fiesta. It turns in sharply and with little delay, with its suspension working well to dole out body roll in a fashion that won’t cause undue alarm. Front end grip is strong, too, and it responds keenly to being steered on the throttle. That said, the steering is a touch numb and could do with a degree more heft to be properly confidence inspiring.

Ride quality is par for the course, in that it’s prone to similar levels of choppiness at speed on cracked and battered country roads as its supermini compatriots. It certainly isn’t uncomfortable, however, though a Volkswagen Polo does a better job of authoritatively sanding down sharper intrusions.

As for the engine, it pulls strongly from below 2000rpm and continues to do so right up to the far reaches of the rev range. Renault says it’ll hit 62mph from a standstill in 9.0sec, and I’ve no reason to doubt that. However, its flat, nasal four-cylinder drone lacks the character of Ford’s similarly potent 1.0-litre Ecoboost motor. Still, the dual-clutch ‘box responds keenly enough in auto mode, though, strangely, it seems less reactive when you use the paddles.

Should I buy one?

Ultimately, as likeable as this new Clio is, a proper manual gearbox would undoubtedly make it even more appealing - particularly as the transmission fitted to lower powered models is a bit of a peach. 

Of course, it won’t quite be as quick, but that 1.0-litre triple is a decent workhorse, and in RS Line guise is some £2500 cheaper than the 129bhp unit too. That sounds like a very tempting package indeed.

Renault Clio RS Line TCe 130

Where Cotswolds, UK On sale now Price £20,29 Engine 4cyl, 1330cc, turbo, petrol Power 129bhp at 5000rpm Torque 177lb ft at 1600rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic 0-62mph 9.0sec Top speed 124mph Fuel economy 49.6mpg (WLTP combined) CO2 WLTP not available Rivals Ford Fiesta ST-Line X, Volkswagen Polo R-Line, Seat Ibiza FR Sport

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Comments
19

30 October 2019

Deserves a bit more power as the gap to the true RS will be huge.  This missing link is made all the worse as the power gap 'down stream' is in effect non-existant.

Missed oppotunity (and don't start me off on not offering a manual) 

31 October 2019
xxxx wrote:

Deserves a bit more power as the gap to the true RS will be huge.  This missing link is made all the worse as the power gap 'down stream' is in effect non-existant.

Missed oppotunity (and don't start me off on not offering a manual) 

 

Are YOU the missing link?...stay hidden.

FM8

31 October 2019
Takeitslowly wrote:

xxxx wrote:

Deserves a bit more power as the gap to the true RS will be huge.  This missing link is made all the worse as the power gap 'down stream' is in effect non-existant.

Missed oppotunity (and don't start me off on not offering a manual) 

 

Are YOU the missing link?...stay hidden.

Why? Has the same rights to be here as you. Contributes considerably more too, regardless of whether one agrees with what's being said.

Still got your mums Micra? You could upgrade it now she's dead. Or you could look at this Clio, they're very similar. If you lack confidence with people when you come out from behind the keyboard, I could help you.

31 October 2019

Germany's leading automotive site Auto Motor und Sport tested these 3. The Renault came out on top. Understandably so. The Clio is a great allrounder and as quick and nimble as the Ford.

30 October 2019

Shame there isn't a manual, but I suspect that Renault's marketing will have done this for a reason. Perhaps there won't be many of this engine/spec sold, so to help justify it, they will have gone with 1 gearbox type. Most will probably prefer an auto in this spec, so go with the majority. 

31 October 2019
superstevie wrote:

Shame there isn't a manual, but I suspect that Renault's marketing will have done this for a reason. Perhaps there won't be many of this engine/spec sold, so to help justify it, they will have gone with 1 gearbox type. Most will probably prefer an auto in this spec, so go with the majority. 

 

There is a manual, not for the UK market...as yet.

FM8

31 October 2019
Takeitslowly wrote:

superstevie wrote:

Shame there isn't a manual, but I suspect that Renault's marketing will have done this for a reason. Perhaps there won't be many of this engine/spec sold, so to help justify it, they will have gone with 1 gearbox type. Most will probably prefer an auto in this spec, so go with the majority. 

 

There is a manual, not for the UK market...as yet.

Good boy. See, you can do it.

30 October 2019

I don't understand the auto only option. I appreciate what superstevie says but given there is a manual gearbox setup for this engine and it's available in other Renaults, surely it can't be that hard to offer it on the Clio? That would chop probably £1k off and then you've got what could be a nicely setup warm hatch. It'll be fast enough in the real world and a hoot to drive. And if Renault were feeling really generous, the could offer the 160ps version of this engine...

30 October 2019

Very, very competent car, provided with modern, athletic looks. Imo Fiesta and Polo pale in comparison. Not the 208 II though.  

30 October 2019

Never ever thought I'd say this but the new Clio and even the new Captur both look smart and have great looking interiors.

They seem to get good reviews too, quite a turnaround.  Peugeout no longer make cars that make me want to vomit either.  Something good going on in France!

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