It is a source of occasional frustration and bemusement to me that whatever I drive, my mother will be able to recall only the colour. 'Remember when we went to your aunt's in the black one?' she will ask, referring to a £95,000 BMW limousine. Before adding of a £7,000 Suzuki: 'I much preferred the red one.'
However, in the case of the fourth-generation Clio, the colour is also the main thing I recall. You see, my test model came in inca yellow and I can only presume that 'inca' means 'insane' in French. For it was yellow in the way Malcolm Tucker is sweary. In the way Ryanair is bad at customer service. You could spot it approaching across three London boroughs.
Frankly, I didn't want to get in it. But it came in the week London was experiencing a heatwave, and with the Underground and the buses feeling like mobile Bikram yoga studios, it was the only air-conditioned mode of transport available. And, you know what, for all the social embarrassment of driving around in the vehicular equivalent of a packet of Quavers, it turned out to be rather good.
Certainly, Renault seems to have rediscovered its va va voom when it comes to providing driver satisfaction. The new Clio is wider, lower, longer and 100kg lighter than its predecessor - and all of this has translated into a more comfortable ride, sharper handling and more eager steering. I found the gear changes a little stiff at times, but they may not have been helped by me trying to operate the clutch pedal in sandals.
The interior is nice too. I'm not sure what designer Matteo Piguzzi meant when he said it was 'inspired by an aircraft wing' - but it is modern and funky, in spite of all the plastic. And then there is the exterior. If it took me several days to see beyond the colour, it took even longer to see beyond the press materials, which claim that the design aims to be 'simple, sensuous and warm' and that it was 'conceived as a piece of sensuous sculpture ... No acute angles, just voluptuous curves that make you want to reach out and touch it.'
In practice, it gives this five-door car the appearance of a coupe. Meanwhile, the lower ride height, longer wheelbase and steeply raked windscreen add to the sporty feel. It's handsome. Just don't get it in utterly butterly yellow.
RENAULT CLIO DCI 90
Engine: 1,461 cc, four-cyl, turbodiesel
Transmission: five-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 83.1 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 90 g/km
Power: 90 bhp @ 4,000 rpm
Torque: 162 lb/ft @ 1,750 rpm
0-62 mph: 11.7 seconds
Top speed: 112 mph