Renault Clio

Dynamique S Nav dCi

110

Renault Clio, front action
Renault Clio, front action 2
Renault Clio, side action
Renault Clio, rear action
Renault Clio, boot
Renault Clio, dashboard
Renault Clio, wheel

YOU don't need a long memory to recall the dark days when Renault dealers sat in silent showrooms praying for someone to turn up with an interest in buying a car.

That was a mere five years ago, when just 40,760 new Renaults were shifted in the UK. That's a drop in the sump of sales with a brand considered one of the major European players.

Drastic action was called for, and taken. Whole model lines were excised (remember the Laguna?) as a trimmed down business focused on doing better.

It worked. Sales in 2016 hit 85,087, a healthy 12.5 per cent rise on the year before. With new models only now making their mark - and fresh ones due this year - things can only get better.

The Clio was responsible for more than 23,000 of those UK sales last year and the car in its several guises has been a core part of Renault's business since it arrived in 1990, helped by the chic Nicole and her papa on the telly, you may recall.

The latest Clio appeared in 2012 and was refreshed with a new look and upgraded kit last year to keep it selling against formidable opposition like the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and Vauxhall Corsa.

There's also a new Citroen C3 to contend with and the Ford is renewed later this year - so no slacking at the back, Renault.

If looks count (and they do) then the Clio is off to a fine start. It follows the current trend for cars that look as though they've been attacked by a master swordsman on the styling studio's clay model, but the result is a fine mix of curves and slashes.

Your reaction to the interior is likely to depend on which end of the Clio range you're sitting in. Should it be the entry version for less than £12,000 there will be no complaints - everything looks properly thought out and in its place.

Move to this car, which tops £18,000, and you might reckon it's starting to look a little uncomfortable against the solid finish of the Polo. No qualms about the kit level, though, which comes with some unexpected goodies.

Alongside the expected big alloy wheels and sat nav are a reversing camera and self-parking option that will have you safely homed in the supermarket car park at the press of a button after following some simple instructions.

There's a further pleasant surprise in the penetrating shape of a set of LED headlights which do a fine job of turning night into day. Also included at this trim level are climate control and rear electric windows.

Under the bonnet of the test car beats a 110 horsepower diesel that currently incurs no road tax, thanks to its modest tailpipe emissions.

That changes from April when the chancellor imposes a tougher tax regime - meaning anyone buying a new Clio (and tailpipe meanie rivals) will then be paying £100 the first year and £140 annually thereafter.

It will remain an economical car to fuel whenever it's bought; although the 55mpg on test was nowhere near the fantasy 80mpg recorded in the official consumption test.

FAST FACTS

Renault Clio Dynamique S Nav dCi 110

Price: £18,365

Mechanical: 108bhp, 1,461cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 11.9 seconds

Combined MPG:80.7

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 90g/km

Bik rating:20%

Warranty: 4yrs/100,000 miles

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