Before downsizing fever gripped the masses, assessing the Clio’s comparative value would simply involved sticking a moistened thumb in the air, finding the range starting point, and then jabbing it into the trim level above for a barometer reading.
Buyers expect a serious bit of ritz from their superminis now, and, with many of them parachuting down into the segment from hatchbacks above, they’re prepared to pay for it.
Consequently, the Dynamique Nav is likely prove the most popular option, and that puts it in good stead with the class-leading Fiesta, as a similarly well equipped Titanium model (with five doors and optional sat-nav) costs notably more.
However, in the Ford’s favour, its headlining three-pot petrol engine is head and shoulders above Renault’s, and it qualifies for tax-free status even in its lustier 99bhp guise. Renault’s TCe 90-powered car does not, ensuring that HM Government continues to take a modest cut. That’s a real shame, because the TCe 90 is a sweet and well put together engine, providing plenty of power when it’s needed and settling down to a quiet ride when it’s not.
If you would like to drive into London without making a contribution, the manufacturer will relieve you of a small premium for an ECO variant, which will involve low rolling resistance tyres, bespoke gear ratios and a compassionate throttle map. In our view, it’s worth the extra money to improve what is otherwise a slightly lazy throttle response.
Equally, if you’d like to enjoy the expanded features of Renault’s new internet-enriched R-link system (including the superior TomTom sat-nav), that will be an additional chunk of change. Still well south of the Blue Oval’s price list perhaps, but now near enough to talk a dealer onto a level playing field.
The potential for such nose-in-front style haggling between two clear frontrunners should be music to the ears of anyone about to descend into the fashionable supermini fray.