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Great drives start with a great driving position, which our Clio finally gets right – 8 July 2020
Of the handful of Clios I’ve tried in the past, I can’t think of one that didn’t divide opinions with its driving position. Depending on the generation, there wasn’t enough adjustment in the seat, or the pedals were awkwardly offset, or you perched too high over the steering wheel. I’m not especially tall, either, yet I always struggled to get comfy.
Renault seems to have got everything just right this time around, and it makes the Clio’s cabin a delightfully pleasant place to be. The driver’s seat lets you get nice and low, with a headrest that doesn’t feel like it’s constantly forcing your neck forward. I have no complaints with the pedals and, even if our car’s automatic transmission means there are only two to account for, they at least feel like they’re naturally placed.
That also means the raised centre console is a little lost on me, though I’m sure it will please anyone who opts for a manual car – the gearstick should be within easier reach now.
The steering column has plenty of reach and rake, meaning it’s all but impossible to find a position where the wheel obscures your view of the digital dash, which itself is a big improvement over the outgoing analogue instrument cluster. There’s not much in the way of customisation, but it does have different display settings based on what driving mode you’re in: Eco prioritises smooth and steady driving, while Sport enlarges the rev counter and turns everything a mean shade of red. It might not be a fully fledged Renault Sport model, but it does a great impression of one.
A weekend spent in the road test team’s Volkswagen T-Roc R (arriving on these pages in a few weeks’ time) highlighted just how much progress Renault has made in the technology department. VW’s digital dash might be more detailed but, to these eyes, the French supermini has the higher-resolution reversing camera. The T-Roc’s three-button key fob also feels positively antiquated when the Clio gets keyless entry and exit with its credit card-style remote control.
I was expecting the T-Roc’s EA888 engine to put the more modest TCe 130 firmly in the shade, but it’s actually done the opposite: you can use more of the Clio’s power more of the time, which means there’s more fun to be had at road-legal speeds. I’m a lot happier with the Clio’s indicated economy, too – I think 50mpg should be achievable with little effort.
Hands-free lockdown No need to fish in your pocket to secure the doors, just step away and the Clio locks down securely
Volume relegated to a stalk Infotainment controls are out of view and fiddly to adjust – but still better than touchscreen buttons.