Overall this car has been fantastic so far, I am six months into my ownership and it still often puts a smile on my face just on my run to and from work. When taken out for a Sunday morning blast it is absolutely superb.
Performance first: The Clio sticks to the road very well and the handling offers excellent turn in, loads of grip, and good feedback through the wheel at all speeds. It is very resistant to understeer unless you get on the throttle too heavy mid corner, but fling it in and the back will slip out. The car will let you have a good bit of fun before the traction control and stability systems step in to help you out when your talent expires.
The engine is fantastic, offering good mid-range thump from 3000 - 5000 revs, and when on-cam from 5000 to the 7000 redline it is brutal. In real world situations (as opposed to 0-60 stats etc.) the engine does not provide the same easy acceleration as similar output turbo engines for overtaking and the like, but as it is so tractable and progressive it is ideal for fast runs down windy roads and lets you feel fully in touch with and in control of the throttle.
It is as practical as any other hatch, although you will struggle to get four adults squashed in. The boot offers plenty of room and easily gets a weeks shopping in. It is very bumpy, especially as mine is the 'Cup' model with lowered stiffened suspension, but that is the price you pay for the great, flat cornering. There is a performance drawback to this though as on the wrong sort of bumpy road the car can feel very unsettled, which can rob you of the confidence to gas it.
Running costs are very reasonable for a car which offers this performance, I average 30-ish mpg, but it will go up to nearly 40 with conservative motorway driving. That being said, if you are going to do a lot of motorway driving this is probably not the car for you. It is insurance group 16, and servicing (per 12000 miles) should be around £250 a go for the first few years of ownership.
Overall, this car is brilliant to drive just for the sake of it and will devour a country road with relish, but is still practical enough to use every day, and comparatively cheap enough to buy and run compared with other cars with similar performance.
One last tip- I did try a few Cups and opted in the end for one with the optional Recaro bucket seats, these command an extra premium as they were a £850 option new, but are well worth it as the standard driving position is absolutely dreadful.