Clio buyer’s guide

FROM £5,000 Lat­est su­per­mini is stylish, re­li­able and solid, and looks a fine used buy

Auto Express - - Contents - Richard Dredge

Mk4 su­per­mini is the best yet, and it’s yours from £5k used

RE­NAULT has some great small cars in its back cat­a­logue, in­clud­ing the 4 and the 5. In 1990 the brand came up with an­other land­mark model: the Clio.

Fa­mous for its ad­verts that fea­tured Ni­cole and Papa, the first edi­tion of the Clio looked stylish and was great fun to drive. Yet, as with the sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tions that fol­lowed, it wasn’t the last word in build qual­ity or re­li­a­bil­ity.

So when Re­nault in­tro­duced the Clio Mk4, one of the key re­quire­ments was that it was built to a far higher stan­dard. And that’s what we got, with­out los­ing the en­joy­able driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, the value for money or the cheeky de­sign.

His­tory

THE Clio Mk4 reached UK show­rooms in Fe­bru­ary 2013 in five-door hatch form only, with 0.9 TCE or 1.2 petrol en­gines or a 1.5 dci diesel. Ini­tially there were Ex­pres­sion, Ex­pres­sion+, Dy­namique Me­di­anav and Dy­namique S Me­di­anav

trims. But GT Line spec was added in June 2013, along­side the 197bhp Clio Re­nault­sport 200 Turbo.

In Oc­to­ber 2013 a dual-clutch auto gear­box (dubbed EDC) was in­tro­duced on the diesel, then in Jan­uary 2015 the op­tional GT Line Look Pack brought sporty de­tails for Dy­namique mod­els.

Re­vi­sions in Novem­ber 2015 saw the Ex­pres­sion+ trim re­named Play, while a DAB ra­dio be­came stan­dard on all cars with R-link mul­ti­me­dia. A facelift in Septem­ber 2016 added a higher-qual­ity in­te­rior, op­tional LED head­lights, a Bose au­dio sys­tem and im­proved in­fo­tain­ment.

Which one?

THE 0.9-litre petrol is sig­nif­i­cantly perkier than the 1.2-litre en­gine, and while you’ll pay a small pre­mium for the smaller, more mod­ern unit, it’s worth the ex­tra. The diesel is a great choice, too, be­cause it’s mus­cu­lar, smooth and eco­nom­i­cal.

All Clios have Blue­tooth, elec­tric front win­dows and cen­tral lock­ing. Ex­pres­sion+

adds air-con and al­loy wheels, while the Dy­namique Me­di­anav also has a sev­eninch touch­screen mul­ti­me­dia dis­play and elec­tri­cally ad­justable door mir­rors.

Range-top­ping Dy­namique S Me­di­anav ver­sions add cli­mate con­trol, elec­tric rear win­dows, rear park­ing sen­sors and power-fold­ing door mir­rors to the kit list.

Few op­tions are avail­able on the Ex­pres­sion, but ex­tras worth seek­ing out on the Dy­namique in­clude a glass roof, heated seats and a rear park­ing cam­era.

Al­ter­na­tives

AS an all-rounder noth­ing can beat the Ford Fi­esta. It is plen­ti­ful, great value, bril­liant to drive and prac­ti­cal, too. The UK’S best-seller is also well equipped if you avoid en­try-level mod­els.

Most of th­ese at­tributes are shared by the Vaux­hall Corsa, although it’s not as much fun to drive, or as pol­ished.

The Volk­swa­gen Polo costs more than the Re­nault, but it’s a class act even if it’s lack­ing in flair. It’s of­fered with some

ex­cel­lent en­gines, though. The Skoda Fabia is a cut-price Polo; it shares the VW’S run­ning gear and much of its tech­nol­ogy, but at lower prices.

The Mazda 2 looks sharp and is good value. It’s fun to drive and well equipped if you buy at least a mid-range model.

Ver­dict

THE fourth-gen­er­a­tion Clio is eas­ily the best of the lot in pretty much ev­ery way. It might not look as cute as its pre­de­ces­sors and it didn’t scoop a Car of the Year award (un­like the Mk1 and Mk3), but it’s stronger, safer, of­fers a higher spec and is bet­ter built than ever.

With some ex­cel­lent en­gines, a big boot and a rea­son­ably spa­cious cabin, the Clio has lots to of­fer, even if it isn’t a class leader in any par­tic­u­lar area.

En­try-level cars are spar­tan, but midrange ones have lots of kit. Even bet­ter, it should all work; our Driver Power sur­veys show the Clio can match key ri­vals when it comes to build qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity.

NEED TO KNOW An op­tional Eco pack im­proves econ­omy and emis­sions for the 0.9 TCE and 1.5 dci en­gines. This brings taller gear­ing, a remapped ECU, as well as low-drag tyres. Thanks to SJ Rayner of Kid­der­min­ster, Worcs ( www.sjrayn­er­cars.co.uk), for the loan of the Re­nault Clio pic­tured

Nav­i­ga­tion STAN­DARD sat-nav doesn’t al­low full post­code searches. An up­grade is less than a fiver, but it’s a fid­dly process.

Tyres TYRE pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sen­sors aren’t al­ways very ro­bust; the only op­tion is to re­place them.

Electrics IG­NI­TION coils can fail, lead­ing to poor run­ning. Re­plac­ing the coil for around £40, plus fit­ting, solves the is­sue.

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