It’s a tricky question – do you stick with a popular vehicle like Leyland did with its Mini or do you replace your line up every seven years or so as Ford, Vauxhall and Mercedes often do?
There’s a clear difference between an all-new model and a mid-life refresh.
Unimaginative accountants might say if it’s making money then stick with it but marketeers are all too familiar with the challenges of the product lifecycle.
The popular Mini took quite some time to actually turn a profit but now that BMW has reinvented it, all is well financially.
Renault’s answer to the original Mini was its popular 5 model introduced in 1972. There were just two generations of this vehicle. It was replaced in 1990 by the Clio and there have been three versions of this so far. Where the Renault 5 was around for 18 years the Clio has already been selling for 22 years and there are no signs that it’s going to be replaced. Clearly there isn’t a set time when a manufacturer should replace a model, if Renault is anything to go by.
The latest Clio has more rounded edges and still looks young and fresh. But there’s more to it than that because it’s also engaging to drive and the 1.5-litre three-door diesel tested is incredibly efficient easily returning over 60mpg and allowing over 700 miles travel on a single 55-litre tank. Quite an achievement. My only criticism is that the generally comfortable seats are not as supportive as they could be over long distances.
The test takes place at a time when there are storm warnings across the UK and the Clio handles the strong winds well. It really is enjoyable to drive such an efficient car because you don’t find yourself fretting about fuel bills and on this alone the Clio scores highly.
Renault has always done things a little differently and the interior is inviting if a little bland. The controls are easy to find and use while the indicator and wash wipe stalks have their own unique characteristics.
Parkers, the car experts, say: “Stylish, chic and enjoyable to drive, the Renault Clio is a superb little hatchback that has proved hugely popular. There’s a good choice of engines available. The driving position isn’t the best and tall drivers will find there’s a lack of headroom but the Renault is still fun to drive with keen handling and a good ride.”
This is the hatchback to beat.
New price range:
£7,935 - £14,600
Top speed: 103mph
Watch the video at www.testdrives.biz