Good: fabulous looking, spacious for the class, economical.
Not so good: not cheap in this guise.
Renault's Clio supermini needs little introduction, and now the fourth generation of the evergreen hatchback is on sale in Ireland. What's new? Well, now it's properly sexy to look at, as spacious and good to drive as ever, plus there's loads of new technology and enhanced efficiency. Most buyers will opt for one of the cheaper petrol engines (and the 0.9-litre unit is incredibly efficient), but those that cover higher mileages will want to know what the 1.5 dCi diesel model is like.
The engine is well-proven and it suits the Clio well, especially for long journeys. Even though it only has five gears it never feels strained on the motorway and yet the gearing is just fine in town too. The Clio's chassis is a good one, mixing decent body control and a lithe, agile feeling with impressive ride comfort in all situations. In short, it's a great all-rounder.
Of course, the Clio dCi will only make financial sense to those that do well over 20,000 kilometres a year, but its quoted combined fuel consumption figure of 3.2 litres/100km (88.3mpg) is exceptional. It's reflected in the particularly low emissions rating. For the record, we averaged 5.3 litres/100km (53.4mpg) in a mostly urban setting with a quick motorway dash to the airport and back.
Prices start at €14,990 for the Clio, which is only offered in five-door format in Ireland now. That's for the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol car with 75hp, in Expression guise. Be warned that that's not a particularly efficient engine. The 0.9-litre petrol unit is better and it produces 90hp too while emitting only 105g/km. We reckon that'll suit most buyers of the Clio.
Trim levels are Expression, Dynamique and R-Link. All models come with a great active and passive safety package, including ESP stability control. Other than that, Expression features electric mirrors, electric front windows, Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Buyers of the Dynamique Clio (as tested) can customise the interior and exterior of their cars a little more (and at extra cost), but they also get plenty of aesthetic tweaks, the impressive Media Nav touchscreen system, front fog lights, air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels (our test car came with steel wheels, but alloys are standard) and a leather steering wheel. It's the package to go for, though R-Link Clios are equipped to the hilt.
The Dynamique trim level certainly lifts the interior of the car, making it feel, almost, like one from the class above. It helps that it's one of the most spacious cars in the segment.