There are five engine choices for the Clio. Buyers can pick from a basic 74bhp 1.2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, two more powerful turbocharged three-cylinder TCe petrol or an 89bhp and 108bhp 1.5-litre turbodiesels.
The mid-range engine TCE unit option is supposedly able to give a 1.4-litre performance with greatly reduced fuel consumption, but that’s potentially a little misleading. We have, after all, tested other superminis of a similar displacement that are both faster and more efficient.
Nevertheless, it’s a good engine. Quiet, refined and responsive, its light-pressure delivery suits the Renault right down to the ground. The engine only really feels turbocharged at very low revs, otherwise it pulls cleanly and with stoutness through the mid-range while holding on to its power at high revs. it's also particularly smooth throughout. Ford’s EcoBoost triple may be more powerful, but it can’t match this Clio’s lack of noise and vibration.
The diesel engine is the more mature choice. It feels quicker than the figures suggest and it’s so quiet and refined that you’d struggle to tell it’s a diesel. Pleasantly, it’s also a tractable engine with a wide torque band, so you don’t have to work the gearbox as hard as you would in the petrol versions.
Admittedly the diesel does add 62kg to the kerb weight of the petrol model, leading to it feeling slightly less agile as a result. Those interested in maximum enjoyment should, consequently, stick to the zesty TCe option. There’s also a 1.2-litre engine carried over from the old model, producing 74bhp and 79lb ft of torque.
In all versions, the shift quality is light but well defined, and brake pedal feel is good. Overall, the Clio is an entirely pleasant device, peppy at times and quite suave at others, with the flexibility and polish to take mixed daily motoring duties in its stride, from motorway miles to cross-country backroads and the urban sprawl.
For those after a bit more power can opt for the turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol which produces 118bhp and is spritely, while the RenaultSport tuned Clios offer much swifter performance but compromise hugely on the fuel economy front.