Falling in love again with Renault Clio

Dynamic-looking new fourth-generation Renault Clio is available only as a five-door but the rear one

Dynamic-looking new fourth-generation Renault Clio is available only as a five-door but the rear ones are cleverly disguised. - Credit: Renault

Motoring editor Andy Russell fell in love with the original Renault Clio and bought one. Now he's smitten all over again.

when nicole and the original clio came on the scene it was love at first sight and an affair that lasted several years after I bought one.

This great little supermini shook up the motoring world and that's the reaction Renault wants with the new fourth-generation model which is raising the game in terms of technology, efficiency and the personalisation trend which gives many owners serious street cred.

Renault is looking to attract a younger audience again with the all-new Clio, something it lost with the previous generation. It wants people to fall in love with Renault and the Clio again – hence the bigger, more dominant diamond badge on the gloss back nose trim.

The TV ad campaign says 'You'll never forget the first time you the Renault Clio' and it's true. It is a little cracker, picking up styling cues from the DeZir concept car, and that's before you've delved into the extensive customisation options which really open up from Dynamique MediaNav models – expected to account for 55pc of sales.

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This Clio is the first example of a bold new generation of Renaults with its sporty, muscular and more masculine look. It's 45mm lower and wider which, combined with the finely-tuned chassis and 100kg weight loss, also means better ride and roadholding.

It's available only with five doors, even the forthcoming RenaultSport high-performance version, but the rear ones are cleverly disguised with the handles part of the window trim to further highlight the dynamic design.

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In this highly-competitive class, attractive as drivers down-size cars to cut running costs, the Clio needs to be more than just a pretty face. Fortunately it lives up to the promise when you drive it.

The Clio's 75hp 1.2-litre petrol engine has been highly modified while there are new 90hp 0.9-litre turbo petrol and 90hp 1.5-litre turbo diesel engines.

The Clio debuts Renault's first three-cylinder engine, the flexible, free-revving 0.9-litre 90hp TCe turbo petrol which in Eco guise, with different gearing, engine mapping and low rolling resistance tyres, costs £250 more but returns 65mpg and CO2 emissions dip to a road tax-free 99g/km. The turbo diesel is surprisingly brisk with strong mid-range performance but in Eco guise returns 88mpg combined with emissions of just 83g/km.

The suspension is a happy balance between ride and roadholding, firm enough to be agile and fun to drive without being uncomfortably hard.

The interior is equally fresh and innovative with the fascia sculpted in the shape of an aircraft wing with eye-catching recessed dials and digital speedo set in brightwork and gloss back highlights. Go for Dynamique MediaNav and S MediaNav and you get a standard integrated multimedia system with 7in touchscreen and satellite-navigation and, in a first, the ability to download apps from the Renault R-Link Store.

It's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel but not so easy to reverse in tight spaces with the small rear screen limiting visibility.

It's not the biggest supermini in the back but there's enough space for two adults to get comfortable. The shapely boot is a useful 300 litres but fold the 60/40 split rear seat backs down and there's a big step up from the boot floor.

The Clio continues Renault's fine five-star Euro Ncap crash test achievements, leading the way in the supermini class.

The Clio comes in Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav.

Depending on model, inside personalisation options include different colours for the dashboard, door panels and seats and gloss trim surrounds while on the outside colour touches cover the front grille, rear and side door inserts and wheels. There's also a choice of decals inside and out.

The new Clio looks great but, more importantly, it has regained its youthful fun factor so it's easy to fall in love with it again.

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