Magnifique - New Clio has it all – looks, performance and economy
We've had Nicole and Papa, Italia ‘90 and over two decades of fond motoring memories.
Yes, it's hard to believe that one of Ireland's favourite little cars has truly come of age.
About to turn 23 and a whopping 12 million plus sales under her belt, the little French fancy is all grown up and has blossomed into a creature of absolute beauty.
On looks alone it stands head and shoulders above the competition and if love at first sight could be turned into sales, then Renault have struck pure gold.
The same applies on the inside with an airy, state-of-the-art cabin absolutely heaving with the latest technology.
Based on the concept car DeZir (pronounced desire in your best Allo, Allo accent) the chassis sits longer and lower on the road (45mm) while the wider track (36mm) not only gives it a more squat stance it also creates greater passenger space.
Couple that with the well rounded back side, high shoulders and Alfa-style coupe rear doors (it will only be sold here as a five-door) and you've got one hot looking little city car.
Inside the design is unrecognisable to the Clio III with a brand new dash dominated by a tablet-style touch screen central console that houses the infotainment system linking Bluetooth, music, sat nav and vehicle stats.
The cockpit is simple and well laid out with everything at your fingertips.
The soft-touch materials surrounding the driver is a welcome change as is the piano black finish complimenting the instruments and bottom of the steering wheel – giving a more premium feel.
The cabin is comfortable and spacious enough for a small family although adults may complain that the roof is a little low in the rear.
Boot-wise the Clio trumps it's nemesis the Fiesta with a 300 litre load which expands to an impressive 1,146 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Standard kit is generous for this segment too and includes Bluetooth, snazzy LED Daytime Running Lights, keyless drive, cruise control with speed limiter, hill start assist, electric windows/mirrors and ESP with anti-skid control.
Opt for the Dynamique and you'll get the Media Nav 7-inch console, chrome fog lamps, 16-inch alloys and a leather, multi-function steering wheel.
Top of the range R-Link comes with full chrome package, internet connectivity, dual zone climate control and automatic headlights and wipers.
But it is the drive dynamic and the astounding economy which left us dumfounded.
The spec sheet for the 1.5litre, 90bhp diesel boasts a hybrid-like 83g/km and 88.3mpg – Yes 88.3mpg (3.2l/100km).
Apart from the fact that it attracts the second lowest road tax of €160 per annum, you’ll save an absolute fortune on fuel if you do in excess of 20,000km a year.
And covering that kind of distance is a doddle in the new offering.
The diesel is more than capable when it comes to motorway cruising and even though it only has a five-speed box, it never felt under strain or laboured.
Around the city it’s a joy with well weighted steering and an agility which is perfectly suited to a supermini.
If you’re a low miler there is a 1.2 litre, 75bhp petrol and the uber efficient three-cylinder, 900cc powerplant generating 90bhp which will prove cheaper to buy and more importantly, to maintain. The latter has its work cut out going head-to-head with Ford’s award-winning EcoBoost engine.
That said it’s more than a match for the Blue Oval badge - including on price. A couple of weeks back we had a moan about the price of mid-range Fiesta being almost €19k.
It’s a case of deja vu as the Clio we tested is coming in at €19,250 wITH a chrome exterior customisation package costing €300.
Some would say “C’est la vie” ... you get what you pay for.