Renault wants to get customers back into buying their cars. And they're doing it with bold styling and a frugal new petrol engine. Meet the Clio 0.9 – and AOL Cars finds out whether it's any good.
What is it?
First it was Ford, now it's Renault. More and more car manufacturers are taking their family cars and slipping in frugal little turbocharged petrol engines under their bonnets. For its best-selling car in the UK, the French firm has developed a new 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol engine to make the Clio an unbeatable package – one that's both stylish and kind to your wallet.
What's under the bonnet?
No that wasn't a typo in the last paragraph. This Clio you see in the pictures does have a three-cylinder 0.9-litre engine – or 895cc if you want to be pedantic – thrumming away up front. Remember this Clio has a kerb weight of 1,009kg and is 4,062mm long and 1,731mm wide. It's a large car and yet it's powered by such diminutive means. It's a combination which would have been unheard of a few years ago. It returns 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, emits 104g/km of CO2, gets to 60mph in 12 seconds and packs 87bhp.
Our test car came in mid-spec Dynamique MediaNav at £14,195 and had treats such as 16-inch alloys in black, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, an upgraded stereo, a hands free key (a credit card-like device that acts as your ignition key) and a seven-inch touchscreen with integrated sat-nav. You can have the 0.9-litre engine in the cheaper Expression trim level at £13,195 or you can pay £15,195 for the slightly posher Dynamique S, but the version we tested offers the best specification.
Well there are loads. The nearest is the Ford Fiesta fitted with the Blue Oval's brilliant little 1.0-litre turbocharged engine. There's also the Fiat Punto with a two-cylinder turbocharged engine and the Peugeot 208 with a 1.2-litre normally-aspirated engine.
What's it like to drive?
If you're familiar with how an old Clio drives, the new one will take you by surprise. That's because it feels very grown up, comfortable and fun to drive. It's not as fun as a Fiesta, but once you're behind the wheel the Clio turns in well and there's a crisp feel to the steering. You really do have to keep the engine on the boil though - that 87bhp can suddenly disappear when you're trying to make for a gap in traffic, but it's generally a smooth, quiet and refined little package.
The AOL Cars verdict
Renault needs to sell more cars in the UK and it aims to do this by making you go 'wow'. Seductive styling and simpler model range are the ways the firm is going about it. With cartoon-esque frontal styling, flashes of chrome here and there and an interior decked out in sharp-looking piano black plastics, Renault has done a good job with the Clio. The 0.9-litre is the best if you want a petrol version – it's a very worthy option to go for in this crowded sector.
Model: Renault Clio Dynamique MediaNav TCe 90 Stop & Start
Engine: 0.9-litre, two-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Power: 87bhp 121NM
Max speed: 113mph
0-62mph: 12 seconds
MPG: 62.8mpg (combined)
Emissions: 104g/km CO2