2.0L I4 16v
124kw @ 6,250rpm
200Nm @ 5,400rpm
0-100km/h in 7.2sec
Top Speed 224km/h
This will be fun! I’m onto my 2nd Clio Sport, however I do hope it will be my last. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a super fun hatch, I just hope I can mature a little more by the time I consider buying a Renault sport again.
My first ’01 model, Claire, was a real surprise for me. After owning some crazy Japanese steel it came time to settle for a more civilised approach to meeting my city motoring needs. The Renault ticked all the boxes: small, efficient, practical, feature-packed, safe and last but not least, fun. I had read the reviews and knew the Clio would go, stop, and steer like a good’un, and when I found a clean one in flame red, or “lit-fart” as my brother would describe it, close to where I was residing I checked it out deposit in pocket. Handing over cash deposit whilst declaring the car ugly was puzzling to the seller. From day dot the Clio Sport grew to impress me.
The first thing you’ll want to know about Clio Sport is how well they perform (I’d like to think that’s why you’re here). Renault were building and selling an ugly little hatchback called Clio. It was a class leader carrying Climate A/C, trip computer, loads of airbags and safety features, 6-stacker CD with steering wheel controls, HID headlamps, and efficiency in spades. Then they went and dumped a 16V 2.0L donk behind it’s ugly little mug and transformed it into something really special: the hottest of hot hatches.
124kw, or 172hp, doesn’t sound like a lot, but in something that weighs barely more than a metric ton, it is a lot. Low kerb weight isn’t just great for returning a healthier power to weight ratio. Low weight means sharper cornering, better braking, and lighter use on consumables like brake pads and rotors. Continental GTs weigh 2385kg and carry grunt enough to eclipse the Clio Sport’s power/weight ratio,but they can’t enter corners like the Renault can. This low weight thing is universal for cars, and is obviously what hot hatches are all about. Clio is particularly light though. You’ll learn too that not chewing thru consumables is vital for your wallet if you own a Renault. When time comes to replace brakes and rotors, you’ll wish you took it easier for all those months of late braking. Damn I wished I had. I could think of a squazillion things more enjoyable to spend $1500 on.
Claire eventually had to go, only 8 weeks into her tenure as my main means of conveyance. Family requirements necessitated more space in the cabin for a time, but as soon as I could get another hatch I went on the hunt for another Renaultsport. Along came ALI, another ’01 Clio Sport but this time in Black. Straight back into expensive servicing, that high driving position, rubbery gear shift, and stepping out of the car wearing a grin every time.
It’s fun factor covers a multitude of sins. So enjoyable that you tolerate its numerous flaws. Clio Sport is eager all the time. You can drive it sedately and it will reward you with fantastic fuel economy. But it really expects more from you than that. She wants to be given a longer leash, to climb revs and take on prey that think they’re out of her league. Power delivery is strong and linear. It’s so fun through corners that it’s “straight line handling” prowess is often underestimated. But it’s quick. 0-100 in 7.2 seconds is damn solid for a small car that looks this damn ugly. Quick enough to see off FN2 Civics, and I bring you this from experience.
For a few weeks when the immobiliser was bung, it would go days and days where 5-10 minutes of kicking it over would need to elapse before ALI decided to start. And then one day she would go back to kicking over first turn. It never made sense, but what other car could possibly offer such joy just for starting first time?? You don’t get that with Toyota, not when the bastards start first go, every go.
I guess thats the thing with Clio Sport. It has a stack of shortcomings, and so many of them make no sense at all. But it does so many things so well that you overlook the flaws. A Clio Sport will make you smile more than any other car, but God knows how it manages it. They truly are the ideal Urban Warrior for the frugal city-dweller.
If you can find an ’01 under $10,000, check it out and grab it. I know very little about French cars but there are some that do. Problem is they make you pay for it. An independent inspection is a wise move because repairs and parts will cost you dearly, especially if you’re going genuine. More realistically you’ll be paying $12-13k for an ’01. and over $15k for the 182 or any later issue.
Privately, Carsales, Carpoint; The usual channels. You’d hardly call them thick on the ground but there’s enough of them out there for you to find what you’re looking for. For this money they’re hard to beat. What else out there has 4 airbags, rain-sensing wipers, light-sensing headlamps, 6 stacker (+ 1 in-dash) stereo with intuitively placed control stalk, climate control, trip computer, leather seating, xenon headlamps, and a long list more. Not to mention the power to surprise higher priced competition, and handling prowess to beat just about anything through the back streets.