Renault Clio Iconic

TCe 100

Renault Clio, front static 2
Renault Clio, front action 1
Renault Clio, front action 2
Renault Clio, front static
Renault Clio, action side
Renault Clio, rear seats
Renault Clio, dashboard
Renault Clio, action rear
Renault Clio, boot

HEADING out of Cambridge at a steady - and legal - 30mph a dashboard tell-tale on the new Renault Clio told me the legal maximum was '100', which seemed a bit optimistic.

Granted, this fifth generation of a model that's sold in the millions since the first Clio appeared in 1990 is a peppy little thing. But perhaps not that peppy, or licence threatening.

Let the readout glitch pass and you have here a car thoroughly updated for life on crowded roads where space and sensibly economical performance matter more than ever.

So, clever of Renault to squeeze more passenger space from a car that's actually a little shorter and lower than before. Even so, it's hardly limo-lounge-like in the rear, but every extra millimetre matters.

The boot's bigger too, up to a respectable 391 litres and the largest in its class, says Renault. Then there are another 26 litres of interior storage dotted about the cabin, from front door bins to smartphone storage.

You'll have gathered that practicality plays a big part in pushing the pluses of this newcomer, kept deliberately related to the old car because its handsome lines were a big reason for its success.

Inside there are bigger changes to be seen, especially if you add the optional Smart Cockpit to the new Clio, where a big touchscreen dominates the dash in a thoroughly 21st century way, angled in upright fashion the way you'll find in a Tesla (or the new Aston Martin DBX, for that matter).

This Clio didn't come with a Smart Cockpit but the smaller screen proved plenty big enough to give precise sat nav instructions. And, hallelujah, the heater control were three simple rotary knobs and not symbols to stab at (and miss) on the screen.

Making the latest Clio go are a choice of three petrol and one diesel engine, with a full hybrid petrol/electric version promised early in 2020.

The car's 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol unit sits midrange in power output, with its 100 horses providing push that felt far more eager than the on-paper figures admit.

Given its head the car felt properly lively, demolishing a favourite stretch of rural road with genuine aplomb. More modest speeds can find the engine feeling a bit throbby but a change down in the adequately precise five-speed gearbox instantly improves matters.

Better still was the 52.4mpg recorded over some 500 miles, a figure good enough to make the more economical still diesel option a rare beast, especially with its £2,000 price uphike.

Prices of the new car start at £14,295 for a 75bhp Play trim level and top out (at the moment) at £20,295 for an R.S. Line dCi 85 diesel.

Among the sensible options are a £200 spare wheel, less sensible (but much more visible) is the £150 orange exterior colour pack that includes orange chrome on the wheels and front grille.

FAST FACTS

Renault Clio Iconic TCe 100

Price: £16,295

Mechanical: 99bhp, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 116mph

0-62mph: 11.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 54.3

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 99g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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