Renault Clio 1.2ltr petrol 2010

Small cars, by which I mean snack-box size have to be good at a number of things,
they need to handle like a house fly who just got the whiff of a bowl of sugar, enough
room for some shopping in the boot, be able to carry 4 people and be comfortable for
the driver. That to me is super-mini class, there’s more stuff you can ask of the small
car segment but if it can do my little list I’m happy.
The Clio is in this segment even though it’s gotten bigger over the years, it’s
borderline hatchback now, and if it gets any bigger Renault may do away with the
Megane altogether. Last week I was handed the keys of the little Clio and my first
thought when I saw it was “If that car was a woman, it would have a fat ass” which
was a strange thought to have about a car, but nonetheless around the rear of the car
there is a fat bit that sticks out at the bottom of the hatch. Don’t get me wrong here,
it’s a pretty car, but in the same way that once you see Jlo dancing you just can take
your eyes off her bottom, even though it makes her look a little out of proportion.
The Clio has grown up, both in terms of styling and use of materials, no longer does
the dashboard look like it’s made of bakelite and might just crumble at the next set of
traffic lights, now it seems to be made out of touchy feely materials, it’s really well
put together.

The drivers’ seat is very comfortable, the French know how to do comfort in a seat
and they have done it with the Clio, it didn’t seem to matter where I put the seat, I
still found it lovely. The back seats is a little on the tight side, but you’ll still get two
adults into it. The dash lay out is fairly ergonomic but Renault still use that overly
complicated radio, it’s just too fussy, having one button that simultaneously turns off
the power to the radio, sat nav and the blue tooth is just annoying.

The same can’t be said for the climate control, there’s three buttons that matter, Auto, hotter and colder
and it has them all right there in front of you, perfect. The radio and hands-free can
be controlled from a stalk on the right side of the steering wheel, the trouble with that
is you can’t see it when you drive in a straight line so you have to guess what button
does what, now I know you’ll get used to it but what’s so wrong with putting the
controls on the steering wheel? The USB/Aux connector meant that I could control
my Zen from the radio controls, and that my MP3 library gets displayed on the big
sat nav screen, which was nice. Other than some niggly points there’s nothing to
complain about in the cabin. The boot space is good too, 255ltrs but there’s a big lip
to get over, the up side is a deep boxy shape boot that can handle fairly big loads, if
you drop the seats you’ll get 1028ltrs and that’s a lot for a car this size.
The little 1.2ltr engine isn’t powerful, there’s only 75bhp but it is a fizzy little thing,
there’s a nice engine note when you rev it, it’s the kind of engine you push until
there’s little dents in the bonnet from the valves hitting the inside before you change
gear. If you drive it properly you’ll easily get over 40mpg, if you look at my video
here you’ll see me demonstrate that fact.

On open road the Clio is very quiet and pliant over all surfaces, the suspension set up
is just right for Irish roads, once you show it some corners the whole car comes alive.
The little engine roars what life it can give and I promise, on a dry road you would
think the car was on rails. There was no traction control on the Tom-Tom model I
drove, it is an option, to be honest I didn’t need it all week, there wasn’t a hint of
under or over steer the car passed all handling tests I could throw at it.
The Clio manages something that many other car makers would like to achieve, that

sense of style and substance all wrapped up in a little car that’s cheap to tax (€156 a
year), cheap to insure, cheap to buy and most important cheap to run. Gone are the
days of Papa and Nicole, this is a grown up super-mini with plenty to offer to the first

time buyer and the retired couple, let alone as a second car in the family. Go to your
local Renault dealer and get a test-drive, you might find that Gallic charm too.