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Renault Clio Expression Eco dCi 88 5-door

Click to view picture galleryThe Clio is one of Renaults most
  popular car ranges, with over one
  million of them already bought by
  UK drivers. And there
s plenty of
  choice, too, with thirty three- and
  five-door versions with low capacity
  petrol and diesel engines and six
  trim levels. And now there
s a timely
  new low-CO2, fuel-efficient Clio

  the Eco dCi 88
...”


PRICES FOR WHAT IS effectively the third generation Clio with styling and trim updates run from 10,405 to 19,995. But the topical highlight of these latest models is the introduction, in both three- and five-door cars, of the tax-busting 1.5 Eco dCi 88 diesel.

The three-door costs 12,450; the more user-friendly five-door 13,050. Both versions come with a manual five speed gearbox a standard.

At the core of the eco-friendly Clio is Renault's refined and fuel-efficient common-rail direct-injection diesel engine — the 1.5 dCi. While its 86bhp doesn't sound a lot, its 147lb ft of torque at 1,900rpm endows it with very likeable and responsive performance from very low engine speeds.

“How does 78.4mpg
for the combined cycle
and emissions
of 94g/km sound?
Pretty good.
78mpg on paper is fine,
I hear you saying,
but what about real-
world driving?
Well, my short test drive
returned a best of
72.7mpg; and driving
along town and rural
routes saw a real-life
average 67.3mpg
...”
And good fuel efficiency. How does 78.4mpg for the combined cycle and emissions of 94g/km sound? Pretty good. And neither is the performance compromised by its frugality: top speed is 113 mph with 0-62mph done in a clean 11 seconds.

Seventy-eight mpg on paper is fine, I hear you saying, but what about real-world driving? Well, my short test drive returned a best of 72.7mpg; and driving along town and rural routes saw a real-life average 67.3mpg.

What makes this engine work so well is its torque — no high revving is needed to get the car moving; once underway, you can make full use of the torque for minimal gearchanges — you'll also enjoy relaxed travel at both low or cruising speeds.

Even better, the low emissions place it in Group A for road tax which, for now, means a zero cost in the First Year and then a measly 20 per year thereafter. Also keeping running costs down is a 13E insurance rating.

The specification is functional but certainly good enough for daily commuting. Standard kit provides power front windows and mirrors, a good radio/CD sound system with Aux-in, on-board computer, remote central locking, 60:40 split/folding rear seat, and front fog lights.

However, manual air conditioning is a 575 extra-cost option; alloy wheels could be a choice and, if so, will cost you an additional 520. Most important for me would be the spare wheel — an extra 50, thank you!

So the price starts to mount up. Okay, you save on fuel and road tax but this model costs 2,000 more (and that's before the options such as air-conditioning and a set of alloys) than the 73bhp 1.2-litre petrol model that does 48.7mpg (officially) but which doesn't cost as much to insure (Group 8E).

In these stringent times, motorists really do need to know what their annual mileage will be: petrol is cheaper at the pumps and petrol-engined cars are cheaper to buy although their tax is more expensive.

So a calculator is definitely essential for would-be Clio customers. Although the higher purchase price will put off some low mileage customers, and essential features such as AirCon are extra-cost items, you do get excellent fuel economy and low taxes plus a flexible and responsive power delivery.

When all's said and done, if your head follows the headlines then this new 'Eco' Clio diesel makes an interesting proposition. — David Miles

Renault Clio Expression Eco dCi 88 5-door | 13,050
Maximum speed: 113mph | 0-62mph: 11 seconds | Overall test MPG: 67.3mpg
Power: 86bhp | Torque: 147lb ft | CO2 94g/km