The introduction of the Renault Clio in 1991 was marked by one of the most successful car advertising campaigns I can remember. The Papa and Nicole adverts were a huge success and helped give the new Clio a cool image that’s somehow persisted over the years.
The Clio nameplate replaced the much-loved Renault 5 and remains a fixture in the Renault range today. On 29 March 2016, the Clio celebrated 25 years in the UK.
Renault’s goal with the Clio was to create a little big car — an idea that’s become standard throughout the small car sector since then. The firm was always careful to offer a range of choices, from sensible models right up to a string of hot hatch models which stayed true to the legacy of the Renault 5 Turbo.
The first ‘hot’ Clio was the 137hp Clio 1.8 16V model in 1991. Since then, we’ve seen models including the 225hp 2003 Clio and a race-based 3-litre 230hp V6 model, among others. The latest high performance Clio is the current Clio IV Renault Sport 200, which is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine. There’s also a more potent Trophy 220 model which was introduced in 2015.
The current fourth generation Clio model was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 2012.
As with all new models, the Clio IV is slightly bigger than the car it replaced and offers a more refined and comfortable interior. Engine technology has also moved on. At the heart of the current range are Renault’s 0.9-litre TCe and 1.2-litre TCe turbo-charged petrol engines. There’s also a 1.5dCi diesel which boasts impressive 88mpg combined cycle fuel consumption.
Somehow, I suspect we won’t see 2.0-litre plus engines in small cars like the Clio anymore. Those days are over, as is the reign of Papa and Nicole. However, with 12 million units sold and counting, the Clio still seems to be going strong.