Clio 1.2 RN
Engine 1171cc four cylinder
Maximum power 60bhp
Top speed 100mph
0-60 13.5 sec
Overall fuel Consumption 45.9mpg
Insurance group 4
Introduced March 1991
There's a myth about small cars that they're noisy, uncomfortable with Spartan interiors, showing too much bare metal, and sparse equipment levels. This year, with a glut of new small cars, the myth should be buried totally. Already we have had successes like the Nissan Micra and Vauxhall Corsa, the Nova replacement with the bewildering television advertisement.
I seem to have spent most of this year hopping in and out of small cars, and I admit that I am a lover of little cars: I was after all a Sixties Mini freak (I owned three, including a Cooper), so it must be in the blood. In 1991 the Renault Clio was European Car of The Year; in '92 it was among the 10 best selling cars in Britain outselling the Peugeot 205; nearly half of all Renault's sales in this country were Clios; it is also the best-selling small car in Europe.
What engineers try to do these days with small cars is to give them the feel of a bigger car. A small car has to be quiet, refined, feel solid, offer a good ride which can swallow bumps like a big car, be comfortable and make best use of space. And small cars, because they're bought by younger drivers, have to have an element of fun and fizz. The Clio achieves all this. I have just spent a week with the popular 1.2 RN and also squeezed in a brief drive in the latest Clio Rsi - nothing to do with repetitive strain injury, a spectre that haunts many who spend hours a day at a word processor keyboard - but the latest version of the Clio, with the emphasis on comfort and performance thanks to the 1,794cc engine adopted from the larger 19.
The Clio, two years on, is still one of the best small cars around. It is not as quiet as the 1993 newcomers, such is the pace of development these days, but in every other area it scores highly. Renault's renowned comfort is for me the Clio's strong suit, in the RSi this includes cloth-trimmed sports seats and a chunky sports steering wheel; power steering, electric front windows and remote control central locking are included in the Ł12,840 price tag, while anti-lock brakes are on the options list.
The 1.8 litre eight-valve engine is refined and far less buzzy than a 16-valve, so is more suited to the relaxed style of the RSi. The 1.2 RN, some Ł3,845 cheaper, doesn't pale by comparison; far from it. This is a sturdy performer with close on 40 mpg available and spritely performance, a perfect combination for a town car. Now that the Clio is into its third year there should be plenty of used bargains around, and you can be safe in the knowledge that Renault are moving towards a six or seven year model cycle, so the next generation Clio will be about four years away. The car you buy today isn't suddenly going to be yesterday's unwanted model.* See our New Car Price database for the latest prices and specifications
The Competition :
Ford Fiesta 1.3 Encore
Peugeot 106 1.1 XL
Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 LS er>