Pros: great looks, smooth drive, decent space for the class
Cons: expensive to buy, reduced boot volume
Interest in hybrid cars is on the increase, leading Renault to develop and launch its new E-Tech brand, under which plug-in hybrids and others are to be marketed. This is the badge applied to the new hybrid version of the Renault Clio, and it’s on sale in Ireland now.
Renault Clio Design
Renault launched the current generation of the Clio, the fifth, in 2019 and, while its design has clearly evolved from the previous model, it is a modern and attractive five-door hatchback. It’s also one of the largest cars in the supermini segment, giving the design room to ‘breathe’. The E-Tech model is not a plug-in hybrid, so there are no extra flaps covering charging ports to indicate that you’re looking at the hybrid version. And, as it’s available in a range of trim levels, it might only be the badging that gives it away. Saying that, there is a range-topping special edition that is unique to the hybrid powertrain that comes with stylish 17-inch alloy wheels and a relatively subtle set of coloured decals. It looks smart, we think.
Renault Clio Interior
The interior of the Clio is where it overshadows its predecessor most, as the newer model has been comprehensively overhauled, with soft-touch materials, a strong sense of quality and space and lots of technology on show. Depending on which version you go for, it can be had with a slick upright touchscreen infotainment system and digitally rendered instruments in front of the driver, while the elevated gear selector and bright trim colours available make the Clio feel spacious. It’s a shame that the boot volume, usually a class-leading 391 litres, has been reduced by 90 litres to accommodate the battery pack and electronics. It still betters that of its closest rival, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, however.
Renault Clio Performance & Drive
Renault’s engineers created a new hybrid drive system for its E-Tech models using two different electric motors and a special automatic transmission. To all that is paired a 1.6-litre petrol engine and the maximum power output for the system is a useful 140hp. It feels nippy off the line thanks to its electric motors and yet it’s also quiet and relaxed on the move, with the hybrid system dipping into electric power for short durations. As with all Clios, the E-Tech drives well and its long wheelbase helps it feel stable even at motorway speeds. It’s as at home there as it is darting in and out of city traffic.
Renault Clio Pricing
This is where the challenge is for the Clio E-Tech specifically, as, against a starting price of €17,195 for the regular petrol-powered Clio, the hybrid version starts at €24,995. That might not be a fair comparison, but even the most powerful automatic petrol model in the same Dynamique trim only costs €21,395. In fairness, that’s a lot less powerful, at 100hp, while there is no automatic diesel option in the range to consider instead. The E-Tech is also offered in Iconic and RS Line specifications, incidentally.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
Despite the relatively high price, we reckon the new hybrid Clio is a great first effort from Renault. It has loads of go, is quite efficient and it feels like a more substantial car than most in the class. If you’ve decided you’re going hybrid this year, and a car of the Clio’s size suits, it’s worth taking a test drive.