Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid: How Good Is Renault’s First Hybrid?
30 years has passed since the Mk1 Renault Clio I replaced the very successful R5 supermini, marking the beginning of an era of dominance for the hatch that’s resulted in it being considered one of the best cars in its class.
These aren’t just our words either. In this year alone, the all-new Clio surpassed the VW Golf as Europe’s best-selling car and even scooped the ‘Car of the Year’ award from Carbuyer.
In a recent announcement, the brand revealed it will produce a new range of three hybrid models with brand-new ‘E-Tech’ engines under the hood.
The first of these to be released is a hybrid version of the ever-popular Clio, which is intended to be a genuine rival to the new Toyota Yaris. But how good is the E-Tech? Find out in this review.
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The most powerful Clio yet
Renault‘s decision to release a self-charging version of its most popular model seems to be much more than just a tick box exercise to show EU regulators how they’re taking net zero goals more seriously.
Let’s look at the engine for starters, which is sophistic and powerful.
It’s a 1.6-litre petrol unit coupled with two electric motors that work simultaneously through an automatic multi-mode gearbox. The 140bhp total output translates to a 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds, which feels peppier than it sounds when you put your foot down thanks to the quick response of the electric motors.
A 1.2kWh self-charging batter pack powers the motors and, while it’s small, has shown an ability to recuperate almost five times its own capacity through regenerative braking.
While you’re pottering down the road, the E-Tech drivetrain automatically adapts to your driving situation, switching between pure electric, hybrid and petrol power to maximise fuel-efficiency. According to Renault, the car can operate 80% of the time in EV mode when you’re in urban areas, which is expected to be less than the 30-mile electric-only range of the upcoming plug-in Captur and Megane models. However, it’s still good for a combined fuel economy of around 58mpg. It’s also a good choice if you’re looking to cut down on your car’s CO2 emissions, with just 98-99g/km of CO2 depending on the trim level you choose.
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Impressive tech and spec
The E-Tech engine is available in Clio’s current line-up, which includes four different trim levels – Play, Iconic, S Edition and the sportiest R.S. Line.
Equipment is very generous even in the entry-level Play spec, including smart 16″ alloy wheels and advanced assistance systems like traffic sign recognition, active emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keeping assist and lane departure warning.
You’ll want to look at the Iconic grade and above for a proper touchscreen infotainment system that comes with Apple CarPlay and Smartphone integration, however. If you like a bit of sporty aggression adding to your car, R.S. Line models are the go-to option, adding larger 17″ alloy wheels with black inserts, exclusive R.S. Line upholstery with red contrast stitching and a more striking front bumper and grille.
That’s the standard specifications out of the way, but where we want to focus on is the range-topping, signature Launch Edition version of the new hybrid Clio. Over these other variations you’ll get the following:
- Multi-sense system – includes ambient lighting and a drive mode selector that improves the car’s interior environment while giving you the option of modes such as ‘Sport’ (improves accelerator response, tightens suspension and firms up handling) and ‘Eco’ (increases level of regen braking to generate more battery).
- Blue interior/exterior pack – adds more ultra-modern trim to the Clio outside-in which mirrors the tech-savvy electrified drivetrain.
- 17″ ‘Viva Stella’ diamond cut alloy wheels with black inserts – a hybrid between the R.S. Line’s sporty gloss inserts and S Edition’s smart, angular Viva Stella design.
How practical is it?
The Clio has always been able to perform as a practical family hatch that allows for seating five comfortably. In the back there’s decent space for three adults to sit without too much fuss, though the person in the middle won’t want to be there for long periods of time as the space there is slightly smaller than the outer seats.
In terms of boot space, you’ll find a reasonable 300-litre storage area that may be 91 litres less than the standard model to create room for the battery pack, but is still 14 litres more than the rival Yaris.
A Honda Jazz has slightly more (304 litres) room in the cargo, but it’s not quite as stylish (or sporty) when you compare it with the Clio. With that being said, if you’re not too concerned about design and just want practicality, the Jazz would be your best bet of the three – it even has a roomier rear for your backseat passengers.
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