10 March 2016

DRIVEN: Renault Clio

We get behind the wheel of the Renault Clio. Does it have Va Va Voom?

ONE of the well-known names in the world of superminis. Along with the likes of the Ford Fiesta, the Fiat Punto and the Volkswagen Polo, the Renault Clio has become one of the established small cars in the segment.

The Clio has been around since 1990 which was the replacement for the much-loved 5. It has been a huge success for the French maker. That played a major role in Renault's turnaround after a difficult second half of the 1980s. To date, Renault have sold around 12 million Clios over the past two decades.

You may remember the commercials on the original Clio with Nicole and Papa - don't forget Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. With the second generation onwards, it has been marketed with Va Va Voom and that has been the case ever since. You will probably remember seeing Theirry Henry or Dita Von Teese on the commercials.

The second generation Clio has been around for a while. Renault has recently discontinued making these Clios, which in the last few years, have been the cheaper, no-frills Campus models when its replacement hit the roads in 2006.

Where looks are concerned, the Clio has stood the test of time well compared to some of its rivals. Though I would say the post-2001 Clios with the revised front end, looks fresher and leaner than the earlier models. Not as overtly pretty as a Peugeot 206, or understated like the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo. The Clio was one of the quirkier looking small cars around that time.

Renault made a wide range of Clios. Available as a three and five door hatchback that also came with an array of confusing models and trim names. Dymanique, Expression, Privilege and Authentique to name some. Engines range from 1.2, 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 litre petrol engines. Then of course you have the hot RenaultSport Clios as well. At the other end of the scale, there was the 1.5 dCi diesel in the range as well.

The Clio I drove was the 1.2 litre 16V Dymanique model. On the move, the Clio is a pretty spirited when you get it going and the 1.2 litre engine is a rather lively little block. The steering is responsive - even if it is a little on the vague side - and is pretty chuck-able round the bends. It also rides well when it comes to dealing with rough roads and speed bumps.

Being a Dynamique model, the Clio comes pretty well equipped. With electric windows, ABS, alloy wheels, front fog lamps, small rear spoiler and a sunroof. If you think of it as Renault's Zetec model, then you're pretty much on the mark.

What lets the Clio down is build quality. It's quite flaky in a few places with one bit of loose one of the fronts seats. Which restricts entry and exits for rear passengers on one side of the vehicle. For a small car, boot space is more than respectable, as it could fit two full-size suitcases in there without the need to fold the rear seats.

Furthermore, interior space is one of its weaker subjects. Its low roof line means there's not much headroom. With the Clio having decent boot space, it comes at the expense of rear legroom for passengers.

So what's the verdict on the Clio? In summary, it's a car that's cheap to buy and run that's also fun to drive. If interior space and practicality is not high on your list, but want something fun and frugal. Then the Clio is well worth considering if you want a small car with a certain Je Ne Sais Quoi.


2002 Clio 1.2 16V Dynamique

Engine: 1.2 litre DOHC 16-Valve 4 Cylinder
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual
Power: 75bhp
Torque: 105nm
0-62mph: 12.6secs
Top speed: 106mph
Economy: 47mpg (combined)
CO2: 142g/km

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