Renault Clio E-TECH hybrid review
The hybrid Renault Clio is a quiet yet punchy small car, with good electric running potential and a comfortable ride
- Smooth and quiet
- Comfortable and well equipped
- Good electric range for a hybrid
- Ride is firm
- Powertrain feels restless
- Pricier than non-hybrid models
|Car type||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions||0-62mph|
The Renault Clio E-TECH is part of a wave of hybrid hatchbacks, which only a few years ago was a very niche part of the market. Revised tax rules and changing attitudes mean that electrified cars are being rapidly released and updated, and the Clio shows that this can only be a good thing. The latest versions of the Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz arrived in 2020, and these are the Renault's main rivals at the moment.
Despite wearing the same E-TECH badge as the larger Renault Captur and Renault Megane hybrids, the Clio is not a plug-in. Instead, it uses a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with two electric motors and a small 1.2kWh lithium-ion battery, which produce 138bhp. It's a similar setup to the Yaris, and it works well in a small car. The Renault emits between 99 and 100g/km of CO2 and returns fuel economy of 63-64mpg – figures very close to those of its rivals.
It uses a clever Formula 1-derived clutchless gearbox that's complex enough to have two ratios for the main electric motor and four for the petrol engine, with 15 operating modes in total including the pure-electric mode. It sounds awfully complicated, but from behind the wheel, it's not – you just press the right pedal to go and the left one to stop, like any automatic car.
You can't plug the Clio in to charge it: the battery takes energy from regenerative braking and the car’s forward momentum. It then uses this to run on electric power for short distances, at speeds up to 40mph. Renault says the Clio hybrid can be in electric mode for up to 80% of the time over the course of a typical urban journey – but the engine always has to come on at some point to keep the battery charged.
Elsewhere, the Clio's interior is as good as ever, which is to say it's one of the best in any supermini. On the downside, the 301-litre boot capacity, is down on the 391 litres of the petrol car, due to the presence of the battery pack. But in better news, the hybrid only costs about £500 more than an equivalent TCe 130 petrol automatic Clio, plus it offers the full range of Play, Iconic, S Edition, R.S. Line and Launch Edition trim levels.
So with that excellent real-world fuel economy, a stylish exterior and interior, decent practicality and satisfying driving experience, the Clio E-TECH is definitely a very strong contender among the small but growing crop of electrified superminis. Keen drivers may prefer the more straightforward purely petrol engine, but there's no doubt the hybrid will win many fans. For a more detail look at the Clio E-TECH, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe hybrid Renault Clio is a quiet yet punchy small car, with good electric running potential and a comfortable ride
- 2MPG & CO2 emissionsAlthough it can't offer significant pure-electric running, the Clio hybrid nonetheless returns some pretty decent economy and emissions figures
- 3Running costs & insuranceGood fuel economy, a reasonable insurance rating and manageable company-car tax rates all count in the Clio hybrid's favour here
- 4Performance, engine & driveThe latest Clio is fundamentally a good car to drive, but the complex E-TECH hybrid drivetrain can leave it feeling a bit 'busy' in everyday motoring
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortA well finished and comfortable interior with the latest in-car technology is one of the highlights of the hybrid Clio
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe Clio hybrid is pleasingly spacious for a supermini, with plenty of room for both passengers and luggage
- 7Reliability & safety ratingStrong crash-test scores and a long warranty are plus points here; Clio hybrid owners should have little to worry about