Last Chance To Buy: Renault Clio

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Indy Lifestyle Online

When is it going?

The cuddly little Clio is replaced by an all new one in October of this year. Prices are set to start at £9,000 or so. Apparently the quality is meant to be improved and there should be even more room inside and six engines to choose from. In the meantime, the old Clio is around in largish numbers, still at the right low price.

What's good about it?

The Clio is relatively chic and cheerful. Compared with earlier versions, the model made from 2001 is better built but it retains the economy and driving fun of the original. In value terms you get a decent specification, although the specifications can be confusing.

The basic Authentique has power steering, electric windows, ABS brakes with added brake assist, plus side airbags. Indeed Renault major on safety these days and the Clio has a decently strong body with seat belt pretensioners and scored four stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests.

The Clio also has some of the most frugal engines available. The 1.5dCi 65 manages an astounding 65mpg overall. Small petrol engines provide great fuel economy with good refinement, so a 1.2 manages almost 48mpg and the 1.4 42mpg. Not only that but Group 3 insurance keeps the running costs down.

Indeed, 18,000 mile service intervals helps too. Best of all there is the Renault Sport 182, which is what hot hatches are about. It is wonderful to drive and affordable. There is also the completely mad 255 V6 with an engine in the middle of the car, which restores your faith in manufacturers being run by enthusiasts.

What's bad about it?

This isn't a really bad car, but it is getting on a bit now. So in terms of space and practicality its rivals are much more spacious and have far more rear legroom.

Quality is certainly better than ever, but Renaults never feel truly solid or that comfortable. The seat is on the bumpy side and when it comes to adjustment only the wheel adjusts for height so tall drivers can suffer. Depreciation is a bit steeper than for Polos, but overall isn't too bad, but we would probably buy a Clio nearly new rather than brand new.

How much?

Prices have been dropping in the last few months and a Renault Clio 1.2 Dynamique, with all of the same goodies as the Authentique plus alloy wheels, which usually costs £9,550, cost just £7,550 at www.newcardiscount.com. However, if you prefer something more exciting, there is the Clio 182 Sport which costs somewhere between £11,699 and £14,800.

Any snags?

There have been six major recalls relating to brakes, accelerator operation and suspension arm so make sure that your new car has been seen by a Renault dealer in the last few years.

Overall though it is minor niggles like immobilisers going on the blink and damage in the supermarket car park to bumpers and body panels.

Fact file

Launched: 2001

Engine: 1.2; 1.2 16V; 1.4 16V; 1.5 dCi 80; 1.5 dCi 65; 1.6V, 2.0 172/182; 3.0 V6

Performance: 1.4 top speed 116mph, 0 to 60 mph in 10.5 seconds

Economy: 42.2mpg

NCAP: 4 stars

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