Renault Clio E-Tech hybrid (2024) review
The latest Renault Clio to arrive on Irish shores looks sportier than ever in Esprit Alpine spec.
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue
Pics by Dave Humphreys

Published on March 1, 2024

Renault Clio overview

Big changes are coming to the Renault line-up in 2024, with the company due to revive the R5 name for a design-led entry in the all-electric supermini class. However, while this retro-inspired machine is looking forward, there's still a place in the line-up for the Clio, a car which continues to fly the flag for combustion engines, with more focus than ever on hybrid drive.

Significantly, Renault has launched a range of updates for the Clio to keep it competitive in the sector, and we've been behind the wheel of the new flagship model on Irish roads. The Esprit Alpine doesn't have a name that rolls easily off the tongue, but the arrival of the badge helps to connect Renault's mainstream production cars and the Alpine sports car brand, not to mention its exploits in Formula One.

Along with the new sporty trim level comes a fresh look to link the Clio with other cars in the line-up, such as the Renault Austral SUV and recently revised Arkana, while the Captur - the small SUV cousin of the Clio - will also get the same corporate look.

The revisions should help the Clio to remain competitive in the small hatchback sector. There are plenty of alternatives on offer, although the Toyota Yaris is about the only rival that uses hybrid technology similar to the Clio's. Elsewhere, the Citroen C3 relies on petrol engines, while the Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa are two closely related models that offer an all-electric alternative. The Volkswagen Polo, SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia are all dependable and share similar technology, albeit without any electric assistance of any description, while the Hyundai i20 is also worth considering. The Dacia Sandero is a budget alternative that shares tech (albeit not hybrid drive) with the Clio, but at far lower prices and with less equipment on board.

The Renault Clio model range

The Renault Clio starts from €24,845 in Ireland, which gets you the entry-level Evolution trim with the TCe 90 petrol engine. Standard equipment includes LED headlights with a distinctive new daytime running light signature, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors, lane assist and lane departure warning, a speed limiter, 16-inch alloy wheels, grey fabric upholstery, a seven-inch digital driver's display and seven-inch central touchscreen. The latter includes navigation as standard, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while three years of wireless system updates are included.

Next up is Techno trim, which is €1,700 more than Evolution. This adds upgraded LED headlights with automatic main beam, keyless entry and starting, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, an electric parking brake, Renault's Multi-sense selectable driving modes, traffic sign recognition, sharper exterior looks, different seat trim using recycled materials and wireless phone charging.

On top of that, Esprit Alpine is €1,800 extra, and adds an even sportier body kit with grey exterior trim, a different 17-inch wheel design with coloured inserts, sports front seats with heating and plenty of Alpine touches and a heated sports steering wheel, while the infotainment screen grows to a 9.3-inch portrait display, plus there's a 10-inch digital instrument cluster. Safety kit is boosted with adaptive cruise control, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert all added.

All three trims are available with Renault's TCe 90 powerplant, which uses a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder layout and a six-speed manual gearbox. For €5,700 more you can move to the E-Tech Hybrid model. This features a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that's joined by a 105kW electric motor and modest 1.2kWh battery for improved efficiency, plus an automatic gearbox that helps shift power between sources and the road.

The Renault Clio interior

The current Renault Clio has a level of cabin quality that seems at odds with its relatively low list price. There's an upmarket feel to the switchgear and materials used, while touches such as the bank of switches across the centre console and the rotary dials beneath for the climate controls build on this. Choose a higher-spec Techno or Esprit Alpine model, and those rotary controls have metal-effect bezels, which add an upmarket touch. It's not all good news, with harder plastics lower down in the cabin, but the major touch points have an air of quality that's to be commended for a mainstream supermini.

Overall, the Esprit Alpine version feels quite sporty inside. The seats have thicker side bolsters than the standard items, while the grey 'pinstripe' effect offers something unique in the class. The thick-rimmed steering wheel feels good to hold, while those seats are set low to help enhance the car's sporty feel.

The Alpine updates could easily be overdone, but overall, the cabin looks great. There are Alpine logos dotted around, while the seatbelts and fabric dashboard feature red, white and blue stitching, and there are little French tricolours on the seats and in other places around the cabin, too. The main touchscreen is carried over from the R.S. Line model that came before the facelift, but it has been suitably updated with Alpine logos and graphics.

The latest revisions haven't altered the amount of cabin space on offer, but then the Clio has always been one of the better options in the class in that regard. There's enough room in the back for small children and their seats, while getting adults three-up in the back will be snug, but it's not out of the question. Boot space is also decent, at 301 litres for the hybrid model (the non-hybrid has 391 litres of space), and the back seats fold easily to create just over 1,000 litres of space.

The Renault Clio E-Tech hybrid driving experience

With the hybrid model making 145hp, the Clio delivers decent performance for its size, and a 0-100km/h time of 9.3 seconds is reasonable. But as with many other hybrid powertrains, the system is at its best at lower speeds where the electric motor does most of the work.

Techno and Esprit Alpine models feature a system called Multi-sense, which offers different settings for the Clio E-Tech's hybrid powertrain. There are two preset modes - Eco and Sport - while MySense allows you to configure your own settings. The parameters that are changed include the weighting of the power steering, throttle response and gearshifts, while the electronic stability control is adjusted, too. It also changes the colour of the ambient lighting in the cabin, the colours of the digital displays and the engine note.

Overall, the Clio Esprit Alpine feels agile, and the extra weight of the hybrid powertrain isn't felt in corners. One downside for this top-spec model is that the low-profile tyres do pick out every lump and bump in the road, and there's a fair amount of road noise transmitted back into the cabin, too, depending on the surface.

Our verdict on the Renault Clio E-Tech hybrid

The updated Renault Clio looks better than ever and comes with a distinctly high-quality interior. The Esprit Alpine trim level looks particularly good, though make sure you test drive an example on your local roads before you decide it's the one for you. It remains one of the more spacious cars in the segment, too, while it's agile and fun to drive. Finally, the E-Tech hybrid system is a good stepping stone between petrol power and full electrification if you're not quite ready yet for a car that needs to be plugged in.


Tech Specs

Model testedRenault Clio Esprit Alpine 1.6
Irish pricingClio starts at €24,845; as tested €34,045
Powertrainhybrid - 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 105kW electric motor, 1.2kWh battery
Transmissionautomatic - six-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat hatchback
CO2 emissions97g/km
Irish motor tax€170 per annum
Fuel consumption4.4 litres/100km (64.7mpg)
Top speed174km/h
0-100km/h9.3 seconds
Max power145hp
Max torque144Nm
Boot space301 litres with all seats in use, 1,006 litres with rear seats folded
Rivals to the Clio E-Tech hybrid (2024)