If this fifth-generation Clio had swaggered in with a chic look and a deft blend of ride and handling only, it might have been more like the car that long-time fans of the Clio, and of French superminis in general, expected. However, it wouldn’t have been nearly as well equipped to make real commercial progress for its maker as the classy and complete effort that Renault has actually turned out.
Where other brands have stuck their heads in the sand, Renault has correctly observed the emerging trends in this class. It has gone to considerable effort to drive up the perceived quality, refinement, drivability and handling composure of its supermini institution to what we might call ‘big car’ levels. And it has succeeded in making it very competitive with the more rounded, desirable rivals that have lately arrived on the scene.
It’s regrettable that, during the process, it didn’t find a way to preserve the ride suppleness that has traditionally distinguished French cars; and also to level with the best cars in the class for cabin space. And yet it has still put the Clio back into a conversation for supermini class leadership in which it hasn’t been involved for some time.