The fourth generation of Renault’s Clio brought a good dose of eye-catching style when it returned to the mainstream market in late 2013. The Clio Expression TCe 120 won Best Light Car in Australia’s Best Cars awards that year, repeating the victory in 2014. It delivers a level of quality, refinement, safety and on-road ability that until recently was only the domain of much larger vehicles.
Individuality is part of Clio’s charm. It has a different character and driving feel to Japanese and Korean models, something buyers tend either to love or hate.
There is a wide range of models for this five-door hatchback which, thanks to hidden rear door handles, has more of a two-door coupe appearance. The selection runs from the three-cylinder Authentique TCe 90 through to the well-dressed GT Premium in the mainstream variants, plus some seriously sporting hot hatches. Overall the Expression TCe 120 has been the most popular model.
Clio is a well-rounded package with all the basic needs of the light car buyer covered. Despite a few idiosyncrasies, the presentation and excellent dynamics make it an enjoyably involving car to drive. Seat comfort is among the best, while the interior is functional and has an upmarket appearance. However, rear seat space is not abundant, the rear windows wind up manually and thick pillars create a couple of blind spots.
Strong on performance
The TCe 120 employs a 1.2-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder petrol engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission for a pleasing mix of strong performance and excellent fuel economy. On the road it feels more grown-up than most others in the class, with 88kW of power and 190Nm of torque on tap. A compliant ride and sharp, surefooted handling round off the package superbly. If you prefer a manual, look for the TCe 90 model with a 898cc engine.
The Expression TCe 120’s brake system is a front disc/rear drum set-up which is fairly standard for this size car. It carries a temporary-use spare wheel.
Most owners appear to love their Clios, but a thorough check and good test drive are still important, as we do hear of the occasional Clio horror story. Mostly it’s a series of random problems – often minor but annoying. The majority of the faults RACV Vehicle Inspectors find are normal wear-related items such as tyres, brakes and the occasional oil leak.