Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid: a greener Clio that's still fun and functional

Renault Clio ETech Hybrid
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Renault Clio is a popular city car that's now available as a self-charging hybrid as well as the traditional petrol models, giving buyers new options when it comes to choosing an affordable runaround. 

We got behind the wheel of the self-charging Clio E-Tech Hybrid to see if it could deliver on its economical promise, as well as still offering a fun driving experience and everyday practicality. 

The Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid price starts at £15,895; however we drove the range-topping S Edition with a couple of optional extras included too, which brought the price of the vehicle up to £22,855.

Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid design

We drove

Renault Clio ETech Hybrid

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Renault Clio S Edition E-Tech Hybrid
: 1.6L petrol, 2 x electric motors
Power: 103hp
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Fuel efficiency: 64.2mpg
Price: £22,855 

The Clio is now 30 years old, and it's gone through a number of aesthetic transformations over its three decades on the road, with the latest version fitting nicely into the modern style of city cars today.

It's similar in looks to the all-electric Renault Zoe, but with a lower profile and sportier stance, making it more attractive to those looking for a little bit more fun from their runaround.

We drove the five-door Clio, although at first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking it may be a three-door model, as the rear handles are integrated into the C-pillar by the window, allowing the rear doors to be clean and uninterrupted.

Climb inside, and for the driver and front seat passenger you'll find a reasonable amount of space, with storage in the center console plus a couple of drink holders, and decently sized door pockets. The seats are comfortable enough for an affordable car, and the cabin looks modern with a large 9.3-inch screen dominating the dash – more on that in a bit.

The three rear seats can comfortably accommodate children, although adults may find the space a little more restricted – especially those over 6ft, due to the limited headroom.

We used the Clio E-Tech Hybrid to help a family member move house, and while it's certainly not a large car, the Clio has a surprising amount of storage once you fold the rear seats flat, with up to 300 litres of space.

This allowed us to pack in numerous boxes and bags – comfortably more than we'd expected when looking at the stack we'd built up in the driveway prior to loading.

Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid drive

The Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine, which is accompanied by two electric motors.

There are a variety of drive modes available, with the MySense mode allowing the car to decide when to use the petrol engine, and when to engage the battery.

If you want to drive more economically, you can switch to Eco mode, which maps the accelerator and adapts gear changes, providing more regenerative braking when you lift off the throttle. It means performance is more limited, but that's the expected trade-off with this type of driving.

For those looking for a little more responsiveness, you can switch to Sport mode, which provides more power and aggressive steering, allowing you to really throw the Clio into corners and accelerate out of them at a pleasing cadence.

At the other end of the spectrum, there's a full EV mode which turns off the petrol engine, relying entirely on the battery. As this is a self-charging hybrid you won't get far at all in EV mode, and you'll ideally need to be driving no faster than 30mph to get a couple of miles of range from the battery before the petrol engine kicks back in.

Renault Clio ETech Hybrid

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We drove the Clio on a range of different roads, at a variety of speeds and averaged 46.6mpg during our week with the car – that's less than the figure Renault quotes, but more consistent economical driving will get you nearer the 64.2mpg figure.

In Sport mode, the Clio E-Tech Hybrid can get you from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds and the car has a top speed of 112mph. It's not going to be winning you any drag races then, and while it abley climbs through the lower speeds, there's a noticeable drop off in acceleration as you push through to higher speeds.

However, it still does feel lively thanks to its off-the-line responsiveness and nimble handling – enough to provide a fun driving experience for those who want it.

Renault Clio ETech Hybrid

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid specs and tech

As we mentioned earlier, the Clio E-Tech Hybrid features a large, 9.3-inch touchscreen in the center console, in portrait orientation rather than the more traditional landscape.

For the youth audience that Renault is no doubt targeting with the Clio, it provides a more smartphone-like appearance, and the interface on-screen continues this theme with large buttons and tiled apps making it an intuitive system to use.

It's not the fastest in-car system we've used though, and you'll need to be patient from time to time as the system loads up certain features.

There's Bluetooth connectivity allowing you to link your smartphone to the car, allowing you to stream music via the Clio's sound system as well as make and receive calls, with on-wheel controls for manipulating both calls and music playback.

Renault Clio ETech Hybrid

(Image credit: TechRadar)

However, for those looking for a more encompassing phone experience on the Clio's big screen, you can connect your handset via USB cable to the car to enable Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

This gives you access to a selection of supported smartphone applications – including Google Maps, Apple Maps, WhatsApp, Spotify and more – right on the touchscreen. We used Android Auto during our time with the Clio and it worked well.

That's not the only screen on the Clio E-Tech Hybrid though, as you also get a digital instrument cluster which can show you a variety of information including audio playback and navigation directions.

What was even better was our directions from Google Maps via Android Auto were mirrored in the digital instrument cluster. 

This isn't something all manufacturers support, and it means you just need to glance at the cluster, rather than over to the big screen to see when your next turning is. It's faster, more convenient and safer.

Another nice safety feature is also found in the digital cluster. If you're following another car, the Renault Clio tells you how much space you've left between yourself and those in front with colour indicators (red, orange and green) telling you if it's a safe distance or not.

It shows the distance in terms of seconds between you and the car in front, with anything under one second highlighted in red. It's a constant visual reminder in your eye line, and we found ourselves being more aware of how closely we were following the car in front, resulting in us driving more safely.

The Clio E-Tech Hybrid offered up a range of driving functions too, including cruise control, lane assist, auto lights and wipers, a bright and clear rear camera and climate control – making driving easier and more comfortable.

You get a pair of USB ports too, allowing you and your passenger to charge your phones simultaneously.

The Renault Clio E-Tech Hybrid comes well equipped in terms of tech, and coupled with good all-round functionality and a driving experience which can both be green and a bit fun, it's an affordable car that's certainly worth considering.

  • John McCann is getting behind the wheel to give you an alternative look at the wealth of cars – and the tech inside them – available today. From super-fast sports cars to tech-packed hatchbacks, he'll take you through a range of makes, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.
John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.