Goodness, how the Clio has grown.
Early versions of Renault’s compact hatch were tiny, and the name still conjures up images of a neat and feminine runaround promoted by Papa and Nicole.
It was 1990 when Clio first appeared – 25 years on, the car has blossomed into an impressive piece of kit.
Tested here is the warm-hatch version, called Clio GT Line. I say warm because there are faster Clios in the family, such as the Renaultsport versions, but the Clio GT Line is a likeable compromise between pace and expense.
It manages 60mph in 9.2 seconds and has a top speed, where legal, of 124mph. Not that quick.
But the price of £17,725 and running costs of 62mpg on a run make it a sensible choice.
You would never guess such modest performance from the rather sassy looks: Clio GT Line looks like a meaty performer and is obviously designed with boy-racers in mind.
Clio used to be the baby of the family, but now Twingo and the Dacia siblings mean Clio has a different role to play.
It is, essentially, a very well-equipped family car with space and toys to impress. It seats five in comfort in this five-door model and it has a 300-litre boot rising to 1,146 litres with the seats down.
Size-wise, it’s a much bigger car than you might expect of Clio – this version is just a little shorter than a Volkswagen Golf.
It’s also fresh and attractive – the Renault designers have done a good job making this model stand out from the crowd without being too outrageous.
Build quality is good, too. This car really has a feel of a premium hatch to it and is more akin to, say, a MINI or a Golf.
While Clios start at just over £11,000, the test version is £17,725 which isn’t bad for such a well-equipped model. Standard kit includes variable power steering, air conditioning, a remarkably good cruise control system,stability control and traction control, powered windows all round, 17in alloy wheels, just enough anthracite trim and a very good satellite navigation system which links well with the ‘infotainment’ system.
In fact, Renault’s sat nav really should become the industry standard. There are so many awkward to use systems out there that is so refreshing to get to grips with Renault’s intuitive device.
The engine is fabulous. You would never imagine this throaty, willing little engine is actually a 1.2 litre which puts out 120bhp. It feels much bigger. And the six-speed automatic with a sequential system is excellent, too.
While the real sports fans may prefer a proper Renaultsport model, this version – also made by the Renaultsport team – is a fantastic combination of sportiness and affordability.
ENGINE: A 1,197cc four cylinder unit generating 120bhp
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 124mph and 0 to 60mph in 9.2 seconds
COSTS: combined 52.3mpg
INSURANCE: Group 14E
WARRANTY: Four years, 100,000 miles