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Renault Clio Gordini dCi 106 2011 Road Test

The Gordini badge may not be that well known, but it can actually trace its origins back to Formula 1 racing the 1950s. In its most recent incarnation it has graced performance Renault models, most recently the Renaultsport Clio, complete with trademark bright blue paintwork and white stripes.

Now you'll find the Gordini badge throughout the range and not just on the fastest versions. It’s a sensible move, given the economic climate – buyers want more efficient cars but don’t neccesarily want to sacrifice style – so Clio Gordini buyers can now choose from a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel.

Both models get a decent level of standard equipment, including 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control, keycard remote entry and start, automatic wipers and headlights plus an array of Gordini stylng extras, including a body kit, Renaultsport kickplates, leather steering wheel and bonnet stripes.

It’s a striking looking car and you can’t help but notice it. But unfortunately this good first impression isn't continued inside, with a cabin that is really starting to show its age. The chunky-looking steering wheel boss is ugly and the central stack looks out of date when compared to rivals. The controls for the ventilation are old fashioned and the stereo has strange, fiddly rubber dials that don’t feel particularly hard wearing.

On the plus side, the test car had £750 blue leather upholstery, which did a good job of livening up an otherwise uninspiring interior, while the dashboard was covered in a pleasant soft-touch plastic.

We tested the 1.5-litre dCi which develops 106bhp. It starts with a clatter, rather than a purr, but it's quick to settle down. It’s a versatile engine, providing maximum torque of 240Nm from low down the rev range at 1750rpm. That means relaxed progress in town.

The steering is extremely light at low speeds, making parking and navigating narrow streets very easy, but it weights up at higher speeds, inspiring a little more confidence. Find a nice open road and the diesel engine’s healthy torque provides strong in-gear urge, making for easy overtaking and a quiet motorway cruise.

The handling is very good too – the suspension is firm enough to provide stable cornering, yet manages to absorb most lumps and bumps without too much discomfort. At one point the slippery, wet roads on the test route did cause a little slip of the front wheels, but it was taken care of by optional ESC, which costs £315.

The official combined cycle economy figure for the dCi 106 is good at 62.8mpg while it sits in VED band B thanks to CO2 emissions of 110g/km. That means an annual car tax bill of £30. But at £14,950 the Clio Gordini 106 is a little bit pricey, so unless you really must have the sporty styling accessories you’d be better off choosing a cheaper model, like the free to tax Expression Eco dCi.

Read more about the entire Renault Clio range in our Car-by-Car Review.

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