Believe it or not, Renault’s approach to chic style and function has broken into its third decade of life having celebrated its 20th birthday this month.  To celebrate this remarkable production run, Renault is releasing a limited edition 20th anniversary edition Clio available from a starting price of £14,671.

Whilst the new 5 door “20th“ Clio is hardly the most exciting Clio ever made (the biggest engine available is a VVT 1.6 churning out a mild 128hp), the back story of the Clio is an exciting one.  Launched here in the UK in 1991, the Clio has gone on to sell over one million units in the UK and over 10 million worldwide.  Clio sales have been strong due to its great French styling that has always been in keeping with the time, strong safety ratings (as its 2005 five-star Euro NCAP crash rating demonstrates) plus cheap running and insurance costs, making the car an instant favourite with younger drivers.

As we discussed in our recent top car TV adverts feature, the Clio benefitted hugely from the Nicole/Papa adverts in the 1990s.  Indeed, the hilarious “series finale” raked in an unprecedented 23 million Brits who caught the fairytale ending to one of the most successful car advert campaigns in history.  This was then followed by the bizarre but altogether charming and memorable ‘Va Va Voom’ campaign with Ireland’s favourite Frenchman, Thierry Henry taking centre stage between 2001 and 2004.

Renault's iconic Clio V6 didn't lack poke - 255hp was delivered via the rear wheels

What we loved most of all though about the Clio are its performance models, kicking off with the now classic Clio Williams, developed in conjunction with the then massively successful Williams Renault team.  The 172, 182 and 197 Clios that followed also reached iconic status thanks to their incredible handling and ability to humble cars priced far higher, with these performance Clios delivering amazing value for money.  The current Renaultsport 200 is also a hoot to drive and one of the best hot hatches on the market today, so hats off to Renault for staying on top of the game with the Clio for so long.

What made and makes the Clio so great is that there is a Clio out there for everyone.  If you’re a newcomer to the road, the car’s simplicity and modest running costs provide an accessible route for cheap beginner motoring, and if you’re the sort of petrolhead who pours super unleaded on your cornflakes, the crazy Clio V6 could satisfy even the most ardent of lunatics.  Even in motorsport the Clio is the biggest selling one-make motorsport car of all time.  For giving us such a breadth of cars within one model, we thank you Renault, and look forward to more Clios.

Which generation of Clio was your favourite?  Were you more of a fan of the Nicole/Papa adverts or the Va Va Voom series fronted by Thierry Henry?

Share your thoughts with us as we wish the Clio a happy 20th birthday.