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Renault Clio engines, driving and performance

How does the Renault Clio drive?

The Renault Clio is one of the best-driving superminis. It manages to balance keen, responsive handling with good body control and long-distance comfort – an impressive feat for any car, let alone for a small and relatively inexpensive one. The Clio feels like a sophisticated, grown up car but also a fun one.

Like many modern cars, the steering is very light. This is a boon in city streets – where a Clio might spend a lot of its time – but it means you feel a little disconnected at higher speeds. Something which isn’t helped by the wheel’s numbness. But this is the only blot in the Clio’s copybook and shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

Is the Renault Clio comfortable?

Yes, the Renault Clio is generally very comfortable. It smooths out big bumps really well, and you feel like you could easily complete a long journey in it without having to stop or change position.

The front seats are bolstered enough to keep you in place during spirited driving, and we found them to be very supportive. Make sure you check for yourself, though, as seat comfort is subjective.

What’s the best engine to get?

For cheap insurance, hunt out a car with the 1.0-litre SCe petrol engine, which sits in group 3 out of 50 so should keep your premiums nice and low. It’s anything but fast, though.

Most buyers will be better off with the TCe petrol engine. With more power and the low-down shove of a turbocharger, it gets up to speed much more quickly and is much happier sitting at motorway speeds. And, because it doesn’t need to be worked so hard, it’s more efficient than the SCe engine. The TCe engines return 54mpg on paper while the SCe returns 52mpg, but expect the difference to be greater in the real world.

TCe 100 versions get a five-speed manual gearbox, with a really long fifth gear that runs out of puff if you ask for acceleration at motorway speeds. Newer TCe 90 versions aren’t really noticeably down on power and come with a six-speed gearbox for greater high-speed refinement and better response.

If you can afford it, and don’t mind the reduction in boot space, we’d recommend buying the hybrid. Around town it spends a lot of time in EV mode – drastically cutting your fuel consumption – and, when the petrol engine cuts in, it’s barely noticeable. The engine is muted and smooth, with just a bit of strained noise at high revs – as is normal for a hybrid. Set off in EV mode and the car offers some of the instant acceleration we’ve come to expect from a fully electric car.

Flick the gearlever into B mode and the regenerative braking takes over stopping duties. It genuinely feels like the system reads the road ahead, with regen braking getting stronger when you want it. Despite not having settings for the strength of it, you really can drive the Clio E-Tech just on the accelerator for the majority of the time. It is spookily impressive.

In Sport mode, the engine cuts in sooner when you might have otherwise been using electric power, so we’d stick with the ‘normal’ MyDrive mode. Renault claims 64.2mpg for this engine, and it seems like you could beat that in stop-start traffic, where the system is keen to prioritise electric driving.

Renault Clio performance

You could almost measure the entry-level engine’s acceleration in days rather than seconds. Its 16.6-second 0-62mph time means it requires a lot of patience to get up to speed and it could be hard to keep up with fast-moving traffic.

TCe petrol engines reduce this to about 12 seconds, which is fine for real-world driving. If you find a rare 1.3-litre TCe engine, this boasts 30-40hp more than the 1.0-litre engine and manages the sprint in around nine seconds, so is quick enough to feel quite nippy.

The E-Tech hybrid manages the 0-62mph benchmark in less than 10 seconds, but it feels like the quickest engine thanks to the instant shove from the electric motor. Its midrange performance also feels stronger than you might expect.

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