It’s 25 years since Renault launched its all-new supermini for the 1990s, the Clio.
During the intervening years, and through four successive generations, it has become one of the world’s best-loved small cars: from a newly qualified driver’s first ‘wheels’, to a hugely popular and potent track day machine – the Clio has evolved into many guises, taken on many personas, but always with a unique sense of French style, quality and practicality. In the process it has flown high in the sales charts, and even spawned one of the most famous TV advertisements ever made. Over 13 million Clios have been sold around the world since launch – enough to line them all up bonnet-to-boot and circle the globe almost one and a half times – with over 1.2 million sold in the UK.
Other varieties of Clio
The Clio has had a presence on the global market not just as the familiar hatchback, but also as a popular van, and in additional body styles. A saloon version of the Clio II, known as Symbol, was sold in various markets across central and eastern Europe and beyond, with the Clio III also available in a Sports Tourer version between 2008 and 2012 in the UK. The Clio IV is also available as an estate variant in certain markets.
Sporting Clios: 16 valves, Williams, and the birth of Renault Sport
Renault wasted no time in bringing the first sporting Clio to market, debuting the Clio 1.8 16V in the latter part of 1991; hardly surprising when you consider the brand’s fabulous history with performance derivatives, including the Renault 5 Turbo and 5 GT Turbo.
Clio in Motorsport
With Renault boasting a proud history across many forms of motorsport, it’s no surprise that the Clio has featured heavily in the brand’s sporting activities. In the UK, the Clio is best known for the Clio Cup one-make racing championship. The Renault-backed series can trace its roots back to 1974, when the Renault 5 was the featured car. Following different iterations of the 5, including the 5 GT Turbo in the late 1980s, the Clio took over in 16v form for 1991, and apart from a brief switch to the Renault Sport Spider in the late 1990s, it’s been Clio all the way.
Clio: Redefining the small car segment
The Clio certainly had a lot to live up to, following as it did in the tyre tracks of the classic Renault 4 and Renault 5 models. Both had made a major contribution to the development of the modern supermini, but it’s a testament to the enduring appeal of this ‘big’ little car that it has outgrown even them in the affections of the car-buying public. After 25 years and many millions of sales, the Clio is still redefining the small car segment through technology, refinement and style.
Clio sales figures
2012-2016 to date
1991 to date