6 May 2024

Renault Clio review: Trish Whelan, Irish Car

Renault’s cute Clio hatchback has been one of the most stylish small cars on our roads since it was introduced in 1990. It has consistently been one of Europe’s top-selling cars with almost 60m sold worldwide. Some 60,000 have found homes here in Ireland. 

The fifth generation Clio has been given a substantial mid-life makeover that brings it up-to-date with its B-segment competition. My Clio was the self-charging E-Tech full hybrid version in the top sporty esprit Alpine trim which is a mix of the Alpine brand’s sporting hallmarks and Renault’s more adventurous new style. The exterior was distinctive in a blue exterior colour which garnered many compliments; its Alpine embossed 17-inch diamond cut alloys, shadow grey F1 blade in the front bumper, new full LED lights front and rear, the Nouvel R diamond logo and the half-diamond Daytime Running Lights accentuate the car’s modern look, while the blue and silver Alpine badging on each side of the car enhance the model’s sports character. 

The interior is one of the best in its segment, stylish and modern with the use of more sustainable and recycled materials, so no real leather. Nicely bolstered sports seats are comfortable and stylish; front ones can be heated in this grade which also offers a heated steering wheel. The Alpine motif is nicely embroidered on the upper front seat backs while the blue accents around the cabin and on the steering wheel and seatbelts, show this is an electrified vehicle. French flag badges shows the car’s heritage. There’s good space upfront, but the rear is really only suitable for two adults or three young children. They will have no arm rest or USBs but there are pockets on the front seat backs to hold ‘stuff’ as well as smaller door bins. Storage cubbies include a decent glovebox and a deep area below the front armrest but this big armrest takes up a lot of front passenger space. 

The dash boasts a 9.3-inch multimedia touchscreen with on-board navigation and a 10-inch customisable driver information cluster which supplies all the driving info but the transmission status shown here is difficult to see in very small letters. All other screen graphics are quite beautiful. A row of shortcut buttons below the central screen are controls for some key features; below again are large physical knobs for climate control. 

The automatic transmission selector is located on a jut out from the lower central console but there was no light over it when I got into the car in the dark. While there’s a decent 390 litres of cargo capacity in the petrol version, my full hybrid car had just 301 litres due to the powertrain’s space requirements. This can be expanded to 1,006L with seats folded down. The entry Evolution grade gets a 7-inch digital driver display and 7-inch touchscreen, 16-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors. The mid Techno grade adds an oval shaped reversing camera which at times was not as clear as I would have liked, wireless phone charger and ambient lighting. The top Alpine provides more top features as already outlined above. 

Renault claim it to be one of the most well-equipped versions of the Clio ever with up to 17 driver-assistance systems that include adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross traffic alert. Clio is offered with a TCe90 petrol engine matched to a 6-speed manual gearbox as well a 1.6, 145hp E-Tech full hybrid powertrain with a fuel consumption of 4.2 L/100km. My average fuel return was 5.0 L/100kms. 

This E-Tech drivetrain combines the 1.6 petrol engine with two electric motors and 1.2 kWh battery. Renault claims that 80pc of driving in urban areas or towns will be under electric power and this allows you achieve up to 40pc fuel savings compared to a conventional petrol engine. The B mode button improves regenerative braking as every time you lift your foot off the accelerator or brake, you put more energy into the battery. You can personalise your driving experience with the multi-sense modes. 

My driving experience was one of comfort and a smooth ride. I found the steering a bit light at first, but soon got used to it. The car handles well and is plenty agile about town and needs only a small parking space. Despite the Alpine grade reflecting a sporty heritage, this E-Tech hybrid is not a hot hatch. However, it was quite a fun car to drive with more than enough acceleration for overtaking or to join the motorway. Some road noise did filter through to the cabin but nothing of real concern. A fun car to drive. 

The TCe 90 6sp starts at €24,845; E-Tech full hybrid is from €30,545. My car, €34,045.