Vive la Clio’s con­tin­u­ing ‘va va voom’

Gareth But­ter­field takes the lat­est Re­nault Clio out for a spin

Ashbourne News Telegraph - - MOTORING -

BE­LIEVE it or not, we’re now on our fourth Re­nault Clio. The pretty and stylish small hatch­back that in­tro­duced us to the phrase “va va voom” and the cute re­la­tion­ship be­tween “Nicole” and Papa” has been knock­ing around for an as­ton­ish­ing 28 years now - and mil­lions of them have been sold.

But as com­pet­i­tive as the small hatch­back sec­tor still is in the UK, it’s be­com­ing over­looked and watered down by crossovers and small SUVS. Far from over­look this, Re­nault of­fers the Cap­tur for those who like life a lit­tle more up­right, and the Zoe for those who like to shun fos­sil fuel.

But of all three, the Clio is still the most suc­cess­ful and, although it’s piled on the pounds for its lat­est it­er­a­tion, it’s ev­ery bit as pretty and stylish as it ever was.

The fourth Clio is only avail­able as a five-door, but you’d be for­given for think­ing it’s a three-door, thanks to its hid­den rear han­dles and the nicely sculpted side pro­file. In the right colour, it’s one of the most at­trac­tive hatch­backs in its class.

The Clio is nice in­side too. It’s typ­i­cally Re­nault, with a chunky steer­ing wheel, cen­trally-mounted cruise con­trol switch and a gi­gan­tic stalk on which the stereo con­trols are mounted.

Even in ba­sic form, the spec is gen­er­ous but in more lav­ish mod­els, the equip­ment list is re­ally quite im­pres­sive. The large in­fo­tain­ment screen is easy to use and in­cludes a built-in sat nav by Tom­tom, which is al­ways a good thing.

There’s a hard, hol­low feel­ing to some of the plas­tics and vis­i­bil­ity could be bet­ter, but the pack­age in the Clio is still good, with plenty of space and a nice, airy feel to the en­tire cabin.

The en­gine range is bet­ter than ever. It starts with an asth­matic 1.2-litre petrol, which you’d be wise to over­look and plump for the 0.9-litre three cylin­der lump in­stead.

There’s also a tur­bocharged 1.2 litre turbo on of­fer, but the best en­gine by far is the fa­mil­iar 1.5 litre dci diesel. I know we’re not sup­posed to like diesel any more, but it’s the most fru­gal and nippy option and it suits the car best.

If you re­ally must, there are some hot Re­nault­sport ver­sions of the Clio, and they’re a hoot, but it’s at its best as a well-specced fam­ily run­about.

The Clio was al­ways known for its fine han­dling and the lat­est ver­sion doesn’t dis­ap­point. The steer­ing is ex­cel­lent, with plenty of feel and the sus­pen­sion is sup­ple and firm with­out feel­ing un­com­fort­able on Bri­tish roads.

Clio own­er­ship be­gins at £13,615 and even a de­cent mid­dle-of-the-pile ver­sion with sat nav and park­ing sen­sors will set you back less than £15,000. So it’s priced com­pet­i­tively, too.

There are plenty of ri­vals to choose from and some­one will doubt­less try to make a case for choos­ing a cross­over but the fact re­mains that you can still buy a stylish, fun and prac­ti­cal Clio for a rea­son­able price. And it’s a car I’m sure you’ll be very happy with. Sante to that!

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