Renault Clio III is a real all rounder

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In the supermini sector, the balance seems to have swung away from the sporty side of things to a focus that’s a little more middleaged.

While younger buyers may groan, the Clio III is undoubtedly a more competent all-round proposition than its predecessor and there are seriously sporty versions to satisfy the petrolheads.

Therefore it’s not worth getting too harsh on the Dynamique’s lack of sporting credentials. Take it as a normal Clio that just looks a little sharper and you’re off on the right footing.

Three engines are offered in Dynamique trim. The first is a 1.2-litre 16v 75bhp petrol unit you should try and ignore in favour of the more modern 1.2 TCe turbocharged petrol engine which cranks out 100bhp. The promise behind the 1.2 Turbo 100 is that it offers the torque of a 1.6-litre engine, the power of a 1.4 unit and the running costs of the Clio’s 1.2 16v 75 lump. That is quite some requirement for one engine to fulfil but the little 1.2 Turbo 100 just about manages it. Serving up some 145Nm of torque at 3,000rpm, this is an engine that needs a few revs on the board to give its best, and when the turbo comes on stream there’s an almost diesel-like sense of midrange urge.

The combined fuel economy figure of 48.7mpg will come as a welcome sight to drivers who want to keep fuel bills down but don’t want to drive a diesel.

Likewise, emissions are pegged at just 137g/km which will mean cheap road fund licence.

“The Clio III is undoubtedly a more competent all-round proposition than its predecessor”

The diesel engine offered with this Clio is the 86bhp 1.5-litre dCi. It’s aggressively priced and gets a super-low group 3E insurance rating. There’s also the option of a Sport Tourer estate bodystyle, sitting alongside the more familiar three and five-door hatches, offering around 50% more luggage capacity at prices around £900 more than the comparable 5- door hatch.

Whichever bodystyle you choose, you’ll want to know exactly what you get when you opt for this trim level.

Sixteen-inch alloy wheels are supplied as standard as is a CD stereo with controls mounted adjacent to the steering wheel. Sports headlamps and front fog lamps are also fitted and there are also auxiliary driving lights to make the front end look a little more purposeful.

The interior benefits from aluminium detailing to visually lift the fascia and there’s electric front windows, air conditioning and central locking.

The Clio Mk III was always a big car in the supermini class but this facelifted model is even bigger. At 4,027mm, it’s 41mm longer than the pre-facelift model and that extra length is utilised in making the Clio appear lower, leaner and more streamlined. This isn’t one of those facelifts that leaves everyone at a loss as to what exactly has changed. The front end of the Clio is markedly more aggressive with the sharp lines of the air-intake and the headlights combined with the thin, smirking grille. It’s a look that debuted on the Megane family hatch and it gives the Clio a far more purposeful appearance, even in its non-sporting forms. The interior was also upgraded with some relocating of the minor controls to increase userNew Car Road Test | Renault Clio Dynamique Range friendliness. Higher spec models now get a soft touch dash with the satellite navigation screen integrated into it.

Beneath the skin, Renault’s focus has been on increasing refinement on the Clio and today’s model features upgraded sound-deadening measures to combat engine, transmission and wind noise.

The occupants should have a pretty cushy time of it because the Clio also continues to set the standard for supermini cabin space with its impressive rear head and leg room along with a generously proportioned boot of 288 litres.

One of the biggest factors in many supermini buying decisions is safety and the Clio II set quite a benchmark.

The Clio III has excellent neutral weight distribution and some serious brakes to prevent an accident happening in the first instance.

It is delivered as standard with Generation 8 Bosch ABS plus electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA). Other options insclude electronic stability programme (ESP) incorporating ASR traction control, understeer control and MSR engine torque overrun regulation.

Along with the Modus, the Clio III is the first car in its segment to offer additional beam cornering headlamps, while double distance xenon headlamps are also available for enhanced night visibility.

The Clio III’s structure includes a number of programmed deformation zones and has been designed to function with Renault’s third-generation System for Restraint and Protection.

This includes up to eight airbags, incorporating two adaptive front airbags complete with load limiter and double pretensioners for the front seats. If you must crash, at least have the foresight to do it in a Clio III.

The Dynamique trim level is a decent compromise between pared-down French charm and a decent level of creature

comforts. The pricing is realistic and the range uses four of Renault’s best engines. Although a little of the Clio’s personality may have been excised along the way, the Clio III is a very impressive proposition. The Dynamique looks the best of the current bunch.