The Renault Clio dCi 90 ECO is currently the lowest emission car in the UK with a conventional powertrain, emitting 83g/km CO2 along with an excellent 88.3mpg, and there are no serious downsides.
The Renault Clio has been around for a while, and it’s probably fair to say that the last generation model wasn’t particularly outstanding. The new fourth-generation Clio aims to change that perception.
The new Clio incorporates Renault’s new design language and it looks great, both on the outside and inside; the design is modern, simple and clean. The large multimedia touchscreen looks good and the graphics are wonderfully simple and clear. It’s even easy to select between navigation and just viewing a map, and to quickly switch the sound on and off – both of these things seem unnecessarily difficult on many cars. It’s easy to pair a phone and also easy to play music from your phone through the car’s multimedia system.
Our test car even had a steering wheel which was nice and thick, along a conventional handbrake, which we like. Even the boot is a good size, fitting a child’s bike and a scooter.
We searched and searched and we did finally find some faults. Probably the biggest fault of the whole car is that you can’t enter a six-figure postcode into the satnav. The engine start button is also too low down. And the design department obviously wore themselves out with the overall styling and were too tired to design the recess in the rear tailgate with an angle that you can actually grip to close the hatch
Under the bonnet of this Clio is a 90hp 1.5-litre diesel engine, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The new Clio, which is built on the same Renault-Nissan Alliance ‘B’ platform as the Nissan Juke, is on average around 100kg lighter than its predecessor.
All the controls of the Clio are nicely weighted, including the steering and the gear change. The seats and driving position are comfortable, and the Clio generally has a good ride, although occasionally it did feel somewhat bouncy and unsettled on some roads.
The Clio’s handling is enjoyable, and combined with an engine that feels too light and flexible to be a diesel, the result is a driving experience that feels fun and agile. It certainly doesn’t feel like the UK’s lowest emission conventional car; performance is good, helped by 220 Nm of torque, but it’s not sparkling – something you notice when overtaking at motorway speeds. On such roads the Clio is quiet overall, although there is some tyre and wind noise.
The Renault Clio dCi 90 S&S ECO is the UK’s lowest emission conventionally-engined car, with just 83 g/km CO2, and an incredible 88.3mpg official combined economy figure. We’ve learnt not to get too excited about official economy figures in the 70’s and 80’s as we rarely see anything close to these numbers in real-life driving. However the real life economy of the Clio, in genuinely mixed driving involving motorways, B-roads and city driving, is the best that we’ve ever achieved with any internal combustion-engined car in seven years, at an amazing 70.2mpg. This also means that the fuel tank takes many miles before the gauge heads towards empty.
The Clio has a stop-start system that works well, although this is likely to make more of a difference on the NEDC test than in most people’s real-life driving.
The Renault Clio comes with a good range of standard equipment including ESC (Electronic Stability Control), ETC (Electronic Traction Control), HSA (Hill Start Assist), cruise control and speed limiter, and keycard entry with push button start/stop.
The Dynamique MediaNav model, costing £15,345, comes with additional equipment such as Renault MediaNav integrated onboard multimedia system including 7” touch screen and Navteq Nav ‘n’ Go Satellite Navigation, and 16” alloy wheels. In addition our test car had flame red metallic paint (£535), taking the total price of the car to £15,880.
There are currently four Clio trim levels: Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav and Dynamique S MediaNav. Expression+ and Dynamique MediaNav models can be specified as ECO versions, with better fuel consumption and emissions thanks to adjustments to the car’s torque and throttle performance, low rolling resistance tyres on smaller wheels and a weight-saving thermoplastic tailgate.
In addition to the dCi 90 and the 1.2 16V 75 petrol engine, there’s also a new three-cylinder TCe 90 petrol engine; the TCe 90 ECO returns 65.7 mpg along with 99 g/km CO2.
The Stop&Start system is standard on the TCe 90 and dCi 90. A driver-activated ECO mode can improve fuel economy by up to 12%, depending on the engine, by reducing engine torque and modifying throttle response to optimise efficiency – this is standard on Dynamique MediaNav and above, although oddly it wasn’t featured on our test car.
We’ve been testing the lowest emission variants of manufacturers’ ranges for seven years and in pretty much every case there has been some drawback with every single one of these ‘eco-specials’, usually in terms of a compromised driving experience, or possibly the appearance of the car, or in many cases in both of these areas and others. The Renault Clio dCi 90 S&S ECO is the first class-leading low emission car that we’ve driven where we can’t find any serious drawbacks. It’s simply a great car to drive, a great car to look at, and it’s also comfortable and relatively spacious.
We’ve driven petrol and diesel versions of the new Clio. We’d normally opt for the petrol version of a supermini that’s likely to be used primarily for urban driving as it’s generally lighter, more agile and more responsive. However the diesel Clio also feels light, agile and responsive – in other words very undiesel-like – it also has more torque, and an official combined economy figure of an incredible 88.3mpg. Even better, the real life economy is the best that we’ve ever achieved with any internal combustion-engined car in seven years, at an amazing 70.2mpg. The Renault Clio dCi 90 S&S ECO is an outstanding car and it fully deserves a Green Car Guide rating of 10 out of 10. Would we be happy to buy this car? Yes. If you’re looking for an economical supermini then we’d say that the Clio has to be the top of your list – yes, even beating the Ford Fiesta.