Renault has taken a deliberate step forwards with the new Clio; one that the car-buying public and rest of the car industry can’t fail to notice. 

This pretty five-door is a statement of intent from a company keen to inject much-needed style, personality, usability and dynamism into its showrooms; it’s a blow landed on behalf of beleaguered Europe in a market where the far eastern powers have been making most of the gains of late. And it’s a resounding piece of work.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Clio has a smooth power delivery and an absorbent ride

It’s close, but the Clio’s virtues are not quite all conquering. Remarkable refinement and dynamic sophistication, combined with great practicality and convincing style, sounds like a tough combination to beat.

For our tastes, though, the Ford Fiesta’s performance, poise and all-round quality of execution still distinguish it. But there’s a bigger gap now between the Clio and the rest of the chasing pack, than there is between the Ford and the Renault.

Many will consider this an appealing and fresh alternative to that Ford, and good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with it.

For many more, it should simply seem the most desirable and complete new hatchback they’ve come across lately.

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