Researcher by trade, curious by nature. Writer, photographer, tech lover, crazy about cooking and eating (or maybe I'm just Italian).
When you buy your first real car, it is always a tough choice. Even more so if you don't have a 5-figure salary.
You really have to understand what you're stepping into, and know exactly all the pros and cons of the cars you are choosing among. This will prevent buyer's remorse and that terrible "I just got scammed" feeling we have when we realize we have made a terrible (and expensive) choice.
Having owned this Renault Clio for a while now, and having tested it in most aspects, I'm sure I can be more helpful to you than just about any car reviewer out there who just tries a car for one hour.
The Clio is one of the best-selling cars in Europe. It keeps beating its own records year after year, and this 2017 "revamped" version promises not to let any expectations down.
The engine is a 0.9-liter TCe Turbo, and my version can run on petrol or LPG.
Performance is quite good for its category (62mph in 12.2s and 113mph top speed) thanks to its 90BHP and relatively low weight.
It is very popular among younger drivers, due to its sporty look and compactness, but I haven't found a single person who doesn't like it, young or old.
Small families will like it too, thanks to the spacious boot and the ISOFIX connectors on the back seats, which make your life much easier around babies' chairs.
Here are specs for the petrol-only version (the data is the same).
The actual price of the car was 12700 euros. It ended up being 15684 euros including lease charges, additional guarantees etc ... I didn't like that the final price was announced after the first few signatures. I would have taken the car anyway, and it felt like lack of transparency. I'm not saying these people are scammers, they are just good salesmen, so keep your eyes open and don't be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions.
The LPG version of the Clio comes in two versions, "Life" and "Zen." I got the "Zen," which is the higher-end option. The car came with some nice options:
- Lights and windshield cleaners turn on automatically when they are needed
- Parking sensors
- Stop&Start system
- SatNav with 7'' display and infotainment system
- Fog lights, front and rear
- Chrome details on windows and skirts
- Rear view mirrors fold automatically when you lock the car
- 5 years warranty for factory flaws
- Lease insurance in case of job loss or death
- Theft/fire/natural events/vandalisation insurances for 3 years
- Some minor perks nobody really cares about
Not that bad, but don't underestimate the fact you're signing off on at least four years of lease...make sure you will be able to cover the monthly fee for the time period.
Pros of the Clio
- The general feel is that of a premium car. From the door handle, to the keycard, to the start button, the dashboard, etc. Just bear in mind that my last car was manufactured in 2001 and didn't even have air conditioning...so we might have different concepts of "premium."
- It's surprisingly spicy on the high end of the rev counter (3000 rpm and up) and it has a nice growl to it.
- The brakes are solid, and maneuverability is great despite the soft suspension.
- The steering wheel is phenomenal both in the touch-and-feel and in responsiveness.
- It is literally impossible to perceive whether you're running on LPG or petrol. If there is any loss of power I could not feel it at all.
- On the same note, switching from LPG to petrol is seamless and does not cause any discomfort while driving. High praises to the Italian maker "Landi Renzo" for the LPG system! Bravi!
- It runs 340-380km (depending on driving style) on 18 euros of LPG (at Italian prices). See graph attached below
- Parking sensors work well.
- All of the optional features live up to expectations. The lights turn on as soon as you enter a tunnel and at night, the windshield cleaner turns on when it rains. You can also set the system's sensitivity or just go caveman (manual mode).
- The fabrics have a really high-end look and feel.
- The boot is very spacious.
- There are lots of handy "stuff holders" within arm's reach. You can comfortably and stably store your phone, wallet, keys, telepass/EZpass, coins, chewing gums, pen drives, gate remote and more.
- The Stop&Start system is smart: if you stopped on LPG, you restart on LPG, not petrol.
My Everyday Travel Schedule, on Which Fuel Economy Is Calculated
Debatable Aspects of the Clio
- The cruise control works great, but it keeps throttling and idling while climbing and I honestly don't know why it won't just keep the throttle constant
- I can see how people wouldn't want all of the cruise control functions into the steering wheel spokes. I don't mind them being there though. They're actually growing on me.
- To put the cruise control there, they had to put all of the multimedia control somewhere else. Behind the wheel where you cannot see them sounds like a great idea. Yes, it might be the least thoughtful control placement I've seen in any car ... and yet ... it works surprisingly well once you get used to it.
- I don't know if you're a digital-display kind of guy, but I'd probably rather have an analog speedometer. When you think about it though, it's so much better to have actual numbers when you use cruise control.
- The dashboard looks really nice, and the shiny plastics play a major role in that, but...they are damn fingerprint and dust magnets.
Cons of the Clio
- The car is a real joy to drive over 3000rpm—but it sips fuel like a 3.2-liter V8 if you drive it like that. Be careful or it will drain your tank and wallet.
- Related to the previous, to make it achieve a reasonable fuel economy, you have to shift gear when the onboard computer asks you to...and that usually means you will be running around 2000rpm at all times, which is slightly below peak torque, hence boring driving. If you're into sporty driving this car will bankrupt you. Luckily I'm not.
- OK, the parking sensors work very well...but could I please see what's behind me? Rear visibility is quite poor.
- The infotainment system was a bit disappointing. I'm quite the tech guy and I'd have expected more.
- You cannot use voice commands unless you have an iPhone.
- You have to tap 5 times to call a contact.
- The maps are only ok, and it takes 5 minutes to point the SatNav to where you need to go.
- It's hard to navigate into your music folders and keep your eyes on the road. Unless you have someone in the passenger's seat, you'll have to stop and select the song you want.
- On a sweeter note, the bluetooth pairing is almost immediate and the screen will show how much juice your phone has left (and alert you if it's running out). I'm not saying it's terrible, it's probably ok for 90% of people, just not me. Get the better system if you get a chance (R-link)
- It's quite difficult for tall people to fit in the car, especially in the back seats, although average-tall people fit ok (up to 185-190cm).
- The fuel economy has risen throughout the break-in, but looking at the trend I'm 99% sure it will never go above 15 Km/l on LPG. Renault says it is 550km on a full tank (17.2 Km/l), but that's not going to happen. Just to be clear, I'm not complaining about the 15 Km/l, which is great, I'm complaining about the company stating something that is not true in real life.
- The onboard computer is completely absent. No residual autonomy, no average fuel consumption, nothing. They had problems between the car control unit and the LPG system and had to get rid of it. Renault, please fix it.
Buyer's Remorse? No
I like thinking while driving. Especially on my long, traffic-free highway rides. I asked myself this question a hundred times, and the answer is always the same:
I love my Clio and I would buy it 100 times over.
I like detailing it, taking care of it, checking the motor oil level, discovering new functions, playing the game of "let's-run-more-than-350km-on-a-single-LPG-refill" with it. I even enjoy listening to music and tapping on the quirky resistive touchscreen at times! Overall, it's a great car, and I hope we will spend a great time together. Hopefully I'll be back to update you on arising problems or improvements that came with time.
Thanks for walking through my thoughts with me. I hope my "real-life" data will be helpful to you when deciding whether to join the Clio-owner family!
Questions & Answers
Question: At what speed do you hit 3000rpm? Is going at 120km/h economic for long distances?
Answer: Going at 120 km/h will take you at about 2800-3000rpm, which is quite economic. However, the most fuel-efficient speed should be 90-100km/h which is the speed at which this car reaches peak torque in top gear...but I don't usually travel at that speed for long so I cannot say how much better it is in numbers...I will edit if I decide to give it a try!
Question: Do you have TCe written on the rear?
Answer: No, I think the LPG version comes without the TCe logo on the rear.
Question: Is it normal that I have run only 294km on my first LPG tank?
Answer: I think it's quite normal, try not revving too much and don't go over 130km/h especially during the break-in. Check if the LPG consumption is the same after the break-in. If it is, get the car checked with your reseller.
© 2017 Marco Arista