Last Chance to Buy: Renault 182 CUP

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Indy Lifestyle Online

When's it going?

Actually, the Renault 182 Cup disappeared from the price lists some time last year, and Renault stopped making it in 2005. Then there came the all-new 197, which is based on the newer Clio, so we are overdue the new Cup version, which will be lower, stiffer and more basic than ever before. But maybe the original 182 Cup was more than enough of a pint-sized performance car?

What's good about it?

The 182 wasn't a bus route; it was essentially the best hot hatchback to appear for a very long time indeed. The ultimate version was the slightly stripped-out Cup, and all the experts agreed that the 182 was a brilliant performance car for its cost of less than 20,000. Autocar declared it to be Britain's best budget performance car. The magazine tested the Clio Renaultsport 182 Cup against a line-up of the hottest of its hot-hatch rivals: the VW Golf GTi, Subaru Impreza WRX, Ford Fiesta ST, Mini Cooper S, Mazda MX-5 1.8i Sport, BMW 120d and Citroën C2 VTS.

Autocar said: "If the purpose of this test is simply to find the most fun car you can buy for under 20,000, then the Renault wins hands down, thank you and good night."

The magazine's judges also concluded: "Where it mattered, for raw driver thrills, the Renault blew us and its rivals away by such a clear margin that it was hard to believe it was also the third-cheapest car of the group."

Even better, the Trophy model (pictured) was built specifically for the UK and just 500 of these, finished in red with special alloys, were produced.

The Trophy 182 had the same 2.0-litre engine that was found in the more common Clio 182; it develops 182bhp and 147lb ft of torque, and gives the Clio Trophy a sub-seven-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 140mph.

And, compared with the regular 182, the Trophy gains Recaro sports seats, a unique paint-job and Trophy livery, as well as lightweight alloy wheels and a rear spoiler borrowed from the even more remarkable Clio V6.

What's bad about it?

The Clio is a focused driving machine that's sensational value for money, so it seems a little harsh to nitpick about its fairly minor shortcomings. First, the Clio's already poor driving position means that you may get backache. In the back, the legroom is less than brilliant, especially compared with many rival hatches. Group 16 insurance is hardly surprising, but 34.9mpg isn't bad when it comes to running costs. It is so obviously a Clio, though; inside, the plastics look fairly cheap and cheerless.

How much?

They are now fairly rare, and dealers sold their last examples some time ago. It is possible, though, to find the odd low-mileage example at a specialist; one 2006 182 Trophy was at a tempting 12,495, with just 4,100 miles on the clock, a Renault UK Warranty until 1 March 2009, and in immaculate condition throughout, with unmarked alloys and only two private owners. The car was sold as I was talking to the dealer. Otherwise, there was a 2005 model at a Renault dealer (Autoworld, 08717 118 506) with 11,392 miles at 9,500.

Any snags?

Nothing specific to the 182, although when buying used a service history is essential. Look out for accident damage. Suspension, brakes and electrics are the weakest areas of all Clios, while some owners aren't happy with poor service from some Renault dealers.


Launched: 2004
Engine size: 2.0-litre
Performance: (2.0 Cup) top speed 131mph, 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds
Economy: 34.9mpg
Safety: NCAP, 4 stars

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