The iconic Renault Clio is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
And considering that it’s not just the best-selling French car of all time, with more than 15 million examples sold worldwide, but also the first car to win European Car of the Year twice – in 1991 and 2006 - it’s well worth taking a closer look at what your lease budget could get you right now.
The ethos of the Clio hasn’t really changed much since it first sparked to life in 1990.
It’s a small, versatile car with bags of personality and a notoriously comfortable ride quality.
As well as being a nice place to sit, it was also built to be light, efficient and spacious.
And chances are (like this author) you’ve owned a couple of them down the years.
The first generation of Clios was billed as the ‘big little car’.
And it didn’t take long - less than a year, actually - until we saw the first hot-hatch version, the 1.8-litre 16v RSi, which is a welcome trend that continues today.
The early Noughties also saw the introduction of the legendary 3.0-litre V6 Clio Renault Sport 172, which is worth a small fortune today as an appreciating classic.
Despite some regular styling tweaks and weight-saving initiatives along the way, the Clio pretty much maintained its original shape right up until 2005, when it underwent something of a transformation.
In came more angular, less rounded lines, as well as sat nav and cruise control with speed limiter for the first time.
Remarkably, the 2005 Clio was also the first car in the supermini category to be awarded a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, scoring top marks in active and passive safety. It was available with up to eight airbags throughout.
Fast forward to 2012 and you’ve got another major style overhaul, as it kept paced with the ever-popular Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.
And last year brought with it the fifth-generation model, which Renault says represents a ‘remarkable advance in its capabilities while retaining the characteristics that have ensured its enduring popularity with each generation’.
So, what do you actually get with a Clio?
First thing to note is that prices start at £15,895 to buy outright or you can lease one from just £175 per month.
It gets the largest boot in its class at 391 litres, a 9.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and plenty of driver assistance systems as standard.
Even the base ‘Play’ model gets Traffic sign recognition (TSR), Active emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as cruise Control.
Meanwhile range-topping RS line models enjoy a unique body kit as well as parking sensors and a rear camera.
When it comes to engines, our pick would be the turbo-charged, 98 hp ‘TCe 100’ petrol. Fuel efficiency is good, at 54 miles to the gallon, and CO2 emissions are low at 119 g/km of CO2 in ‘Play’ trim. Yet it’s still nippy enough to get you from 0-62 mph in under 12 seconds.
The big news for the Clio is the introduction of a hybrid model, the ‘E-TECH’, which marries a 1.6 litre petrol engine with a 1.2kWh battery. Here you get just 98g/km of CO2 and impressive fuel economy of up to 64.2mpg. It doesn’t need to be plugged in, either, as it charges itself as it drives along.
The bad news? Well, there’s no super-quick RenaultSport Clio to choose from at present, having been dropped from the line-up last year.
Fingers crossed there’s a new one waiting in the wings for 2021. Watch this space….
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