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Renault Clio Expression ECO 1.5 dCi road test report

Expression ECO 1.5 dCi

The Renault Clio has been a stable presence in the UK since it was first launched in 1990. Benefitting from a refresh in 2011, and launching an Eco version, the Clio joins the green crowd, with emissions of a tiny 94g/km CO2, making the model tax and fuel efficient. Renault’s keen pricing mean that’s arguably the cheapest sub-100g/km CO2 car currently available in the UK. If dodging the taxman can be considered cool, then Va Va Voom just got a whole new meaning.

Road Test Reports Says3.5 star rating
A front-facing image of the Renault Clio

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Performance Performance - 3 stars

As the eco version of the Clio, the model features a number of changes to its driving dynamics, with a remapped engine, taller gearing and low roll-resistance tyres and 15-inch steel wheels thrown in to help emission levels duck under the important 100g/km CO2 figure. With such a wide-range of models contained within the Clio range, you could buy one to suit every mood. In buying an Eco version, you must be in a chilled out mood because, naturally, it isn’t one of the faster models. With 200 Nm delivered at 1,900 rpm, a top speed of 113mph, 0-62mph takes 11 seconds-a reasonable result for its class. But longer gear ratios, designed to improve economy, make the transition to higher speeds awkward and uncomfortable. It might take longer than our short test drive to adapt to this eco-gearing but at 30mph, you would expect any car to manage a small incline without the need to push down into 2nd gear. Once at motorway speeds, the Clio is smooth enough and chugs along happily.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 3 stars

Despite irks with the performance, the Clio handles well. Unlike many more recent additions to the supermini segment, including those that consider themselves ‘mini crossovers’, the Clio’s more traditional styling means that it is lighter than these junky rivals and its wide, squat stance means it is perfectly glued to the road. Having said that, potholes and road imperfections are definitely felt, but nothing you wouldn’t consider acceptable for its class.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 3 stars

As a model that’s been around since the early 90’s, the Clio is built on solid and well-tested foundations. What’s more, while you could say that Renault takes a relatively no-frills approach to the interior, it is all hard-wearing materials. Externally, the latest Clio has never looked better, taking styling cues from the new Megane, with new headlamp and air intake design complemented by black headlamp surrounds. Available with four trim levels and a choice of four petrol and two dCi diesel engines; and five and six-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions, there is something to suit everyone. The ECO version available on the entry level Expression trim is sensibly kitted with remote central locking, height adjustable steering wheel, tinted windows, electric mirrors, side protection mouldings and ‘Sport’ upholstery cloth in charcoal with 3D design and multi-function trip computer. The Eco version adds front fog lights and electric front windows over the standard Expression car.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The previous Renault Clio received the full 5 star rating from Euro NCAP but since then, the safety authority has tightened qualifying criteria for the full marks rating and has not since tested the model. Nonetheless, the Clio seems well-kitted to cope with an accident, and comes with ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) and brake assist, two stage auto-adaptive airbags, deactivation of the front passenger airbag, ISOFIX child seat mounting points and adjustable three point front seatbelts with integrated pretensioners and load limiters. Security-wise the Clio is well prepared with deadlocking and Thatcham category 2 engine immobiliser, R.A.I.D. (Renault Anti Intruder Device) auto locking which activates over 5mph, anti drill door locks and locking fuel cap as standard.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

Now 41mm longer than the last generation model, the new Clio feels bigger inside than its little exterior would imply. As we’ve already mentioned, the Clio’s traditional supermini dimensions mean no silly chunky styling that adds weight while providing an unexpectedly meagre interior like some rivals. The boot is good with 288 litres with the seats up extending to 1058 litres with the rear seats down. As quite a wide model, elbow room for the front occupants feels good at 140cm and even in the back there is reasonable room for two adults for two, three kids at a squeeze, with 16.2cm of kneeroom.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

Currently it is likely fair to call the Clio Expression ECO the cheapest sub-100g/km CO2 car in the country and that makes this model a bargain. With emissions of just 94g/km CO2 (compared to 106g/km on the standard dCi 88 model) this Clio dodges road tax, London Congestion Charge and for businesses, qualifies for 100 per cent Capital Write Down Allowance and 13 per cent BiK tax. As a solid and well-known entity on the UK roads, the Clio should hold its value well too, and the Clio is ideally suited to family life, as a cheap-to-run second car or a first car for a new driver. The 1.5 dCi Eco model also boasts 78.4mpg (combined figure) and an insurance grouping of 13 to keep those running cost down too. An all-round solid buy.

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