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Car review: New Renault Clio

This sporty new Renault may scream "boy racer", but it’s hard to deny what a pleasure it is to drive, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay.

The Renault Clio has always been a popular little hatchback.

The old models are still running and are commonly used as first cars for those starting their driving careers.

More sporty, more affordable

The latest version of the French motor looks more compelling than before. Even the base model has an athletic edge.

So, imagine what the car looks like when it is deliberately designed to have a sporty streak.

I’m referring to the GT-Line 120. This follows in the illustrious treadmarks of its intoxicating sibling, the Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo.

The difference being that the GT-Line is more affordable – but equally attractive – than its brother.

Pocket rocket

Priced at £17,395, the fresh version sits between the TCe 90 Dynamique S MediaNav and the 200hp range-topper.

Developed by Renaultsport, the five-door hatch is driven by a turbocharged, direct-injection 1.2-litre petrol engine.

And, like its pocket-rocket sibling, it comes paired to a six-speed EDC (efficient dual clutch) transmission via steering column-mounted gearshift paddles.

The Clio GT-Line boasts plenty of blinged-up design cues too - from its grille, GT front and rear bumpers and rear lip spoiler, to its side sills, LED daytime running lights, twin chrome exhaust tailpipes and GT badging both front and rear.

Bling everywhere

Rounding off its decisive looks are tasty 17-inch alloys, together with a rear diffuser.

The all-action theme continues on the inside with a cabin boasting dark carbon GT upholstery, matched with details picked out in chrome and gloss black.

And a number of features all bear witness to the fact that this is a full-blooded, high-performance Clio.

These include a GT leather steering wheel with badging, Renaultsport seats with additional side support, aluminium-capped pedals, steering column-mounted gearshift paddles and specific instrument backgrounds.

High-tech interior

The brand, famous for its diamond-shaped logo, hasn’t held back on gadgetry either.

The Clio GT-Line is crammed full of the latest technology, including a seven-inch touchscreen multi-media system with integrated TomTom Live satellite navigation.

The set-up also provides a banging sound-system, Bluetooth, USB and hands-free technology.

As you would expect on the penultimate version in the range, hands-free card for entry and ignition and air conditioning are also standard.

The new kid on the block profits from two major differences from lesser Clios.

'A zesty experience'

Firstly, a Sport Chassis as standard with 40% stiffer dampers. Secondly, the added bonus of RS (Renaultsport) Drive.

This system, offers two driving modes: normal and sport.

Pressing the button sharpens up the car’s responses, including the engine and gearbox mapping, steering feeling and throttle pedal response.

Like the driving experience overall, performance in the newcomer is zesty.

The latest powertrain offers a top speed of 121 mph and the 0-62mph gallop is achieved in an expeditious 9.9 seconds.

Impressive 54.3 mpg

Perhaps even more impressive is the 54.3 mpg you can squeeze from the tank on an average run, while emissions are only 120g/km CO2.

This equates to zero road tax in the first year.

Safety has not been kicked to the kerb either, with anti-lock braking and a raft of electronic aids with electronic stability and traction control, as well as hill start assist all factory-fitted.

The car might appear a little boy racer-ish to some, but it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face when you slip behind the wheel.

New Renault Clio: Pros & cons

  • Sporty √
  • Efficient √
  • Affordable √
  • Safe √
  • Boy-racer image X

New Renault Clio: Fast facts

  • Max speed: 121 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 9.9 secs
  • Combined mpg: 54.3
  • Engine: 1197cc 4 cylinder 16 valve petrol
  • Max. power (bhp): 120 at 4900 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 140 at 2000 rpm
  • CO2: 120 g/km
  • Price: £17,395

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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