Supermini of the Year 2020: Renault Clio
Renault went from zero to hero in the supermini class when its all-new fifth-generation Clio faced tough challenges from the likes of the SEAT Ibiza, the Ford Fiesta and the Peugeot 208; but it beat all of them to rise to the top of one of the most popular segments of the new car market in Britain.
It’s our favourite supermini, and that’s due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the Renault is a genuinely practical vehicle. It’s a ‘big’ small car, so thanks to a good level of legroom inside for a supermini and a 391-litre boot – that’s larger than a Volkswagen Golf’s, for example, which shows the Clio’s capability – the latest Clio has the usability box ticked.
Superminis have to score highly in so many other areas, too, and with useful technology – especially in our favourite Iconic spec – there’s plenty of connectivity and features to keep you entertained on the move, with a slick-enough touchscreen fitted to most trim levels.
The TCe 100 engine is a willing partner; with 99bhp, the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo unit might be a little down on power compared with some rivals, but it takes 11.8 seconds to sprint from 0-62mph, so there’s enough performance, while CO2 emissions of 119g/km on the new WLTP cycle and claimed efficiency of 54.3mpg mean it should be cheap to run. This is not its strongest suit, though.
The Clio’s refinement belies its size and affordability, because its engine is smooth and quiet on the move. Only really at higher revs does it start to become apparent, and even then it’s not too loud.
That is matched by the refinement from its suspension and ride comfort. On 16-inch alloy wheels, a Clio in Iconic trim lopes along smoothly. It takes a big bump to upset the chassis, and even then the Renault supermini deals with it adeptly, smoothing out even the harshest inputs so that it keeps things nice and calm inside a cabin that is quiet, spacious, of high quality and well equipped.
That’s why the Clio is our favourite supermini, for the way it combines all these attributes so convincingly at such an affordable price.
Renault Clio TCe 100 Iconic (£17,595)
This is our pick because, for the price, it balances kit (nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus parking sensors, safety gear and cruise control) with the smooth and punchy-enough petrol engine that, combined with the ride, gives it refinement few rivals can match.
If it’s driving involvement you’re after, the Fiesta is the model to go for. This small car boasts brilliantly crisp steering, superb body control and enjoyable handling. It’s practical enough and offers competitive connectivity, too.
The Yaris has come of age, with its hybrid power aligning perfectly with the political climate. This new hatch’s twin-motor set-up offers performance, efficiency and relatively strong refinement. The car’s new TNGA chassis can even deliver some fun, too.
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