The Renault Clio – 30 Years Since ‘Papa’ and ‘Nicole’

Renault Clio
The Renault Clio is 30 Years Old

The lovable Renault Clio may be 30 years old but those emotional “Papa” and “Nicole” exchanges made sure the stylish French supermini is here to stay.

30 years ago the Renault Clio stepped into the ballet flats of the successful Renault 5 which marked the beginning of an automotive success story. In excess of 15 million units of all variants were produced making the Clio the best selling French automobile of all time; repeatedly becoming the best-selling car model throughout Europe. The stylish Parisian was also voted ‘Car of the Year’ twice – in 1991 and 2006.

Although Renault did not initially market the car as a direct successor to the popular ‘5’, it does strategically produce both models in parallel, targetting those searching for comfort and versatility, but also who appreciated the compact format and styling of the Renault 5.

Renault Clio

Growing demand stimulated innovative thinking with air conditioning, power steering, electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors all being available for the Clio. The car was an instant success with three and five-door versions gaining the coveted ‘Car of the Year’ award in 1991.

Renault Clio II: Safety In Mind

Following seven years of successful production and over four million units, the second generation gave chase in 1998. Just as its predecessor, the II was to prove a worthy contender with the anti-lock braking system and front/side airbags setting new standards in safety. Thanks to the increased external length from 3.7 to 3.77 meters, the second generation also offered more space to accommodate a growing society.

Renault Clio

Clio III: Five Star

In autumn 2005 the Clio III made its first appearance and was stretched a further 21 centimetres boasting a length of 3.99 meters, offering even more legroom and baggage space for city-goers to exploit.

Tech features were also being added quickly such as cruise control with speed limiter and up to eight airbags strategically positioned around the larger cockpit. The Clio III was the first small car ever to achieve the maximum rating of five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test and was subsequently voted ‘Car of the Year’ in 2006 becoming the first vehicle in the history of the competition to win it twice.


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Clio IV: New Design

The Clio IV was offered exclusively as a five-door model with Renault once again reinforcing its leading position in compact and small cars in autumn 2012. The next generation, like other manufacturers, has grown to 4.06 meters and becomes the first series model to be designed entirely according to the Renault design philosophy that is valid today.

Downsizing of engine sizes and efficiency technologies such as the automatic start & stop, accompany curves and a prominently placed logo on the front; all of which characterise the appearance of the Clio. The multifunctional touchscreen infotainment system Renault R-LINK with online connection is also given pride of place.

Renault Clio

Renault Clio V: Brave Message

The fifth-generation presented at the beginning of 2019 lost its traditional “Papa” and “Nicole” values and embraces a brave new storyline which sees two girls who first meet on a French exchange. The emotional anecdote is accompanied by a piano cover of Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ by Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne and follows the pair as they travel as children in a classic first-generation Renault Clio. Fast forward into their teenage years and the girls are seen enjoying themselves once again – parting with a kiss.

The rest, as they say, can be seen…