Like most cars over the past decade or so, the Renault Clio has grown in both size and stature. There’s no denying that this face-lifted version of the MkIII Clio is far larger than the original car, but it’s also far more comfortable and well equipped. In fact, the amount of kit that you can find inside a Clio today is staggering considering its “small car” status.
The Clio has also built up a reputation for itself as one of the best hot hatches on the market – the MkI Williams Clio is an all time classic, while the MkII Trophy was also something very special. I myself had a Clio 197 F1 R27 for a while, and it was an absolute riot to drive. But what I’m looking at here is more of a warm hatch than a hot one – the Clio GT 128.
This Clio GT may not have the outright power of my old 197 or the Clio 200 that replaces it, but it certainly looks the part. There’s nothing too over the top, but the dark alloys complement the metallic blue paintwork nicely, while the side skirts and bumpers give the car a sporty, but not garish appearance.
As the name suggests, the Clio GT 128 pumps out 128bhp from its 1.6L petrol engine. This doesn’t make it super-quick, but if you keep the revs high, you can motor along at a brisk pace. On the plus side, the chassis just loves to be pushed hard and rewards the committed driver. And although when you are pushing hard you might find yourself wising you were in a Clio 200, the fact that this GT 128 manages to slide into insurance group 7E makes it potentially more attractive to many.
When it comes to technology, Renault has managed to squeeze a surprising amount of kit into this Clio, and as always, that’s the real focus of this review. So, can a small hatchback really show some of the big boys how in-car technology should be done? Let’s find out…