Used cars: how to buy a second-hand Renault Clio 197/200 (2009-2012)

Published: 20 March 2012

While Peugeot dropped the hot-hatch ball after the 306 GTi-6, Renault never really let it go. Based on the third-generation Clio, the 197 debuted in 2006, and immediately went to the top of the class. Its fizzy, naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine paired brilliantly with a pointy front end and lively torsion-beam rear for a drive that out-classed the Golf GTI in terms of pure fun, if not all-round ability.

The facelifted 200 arrived in 2009, and polished the package subtly, further enhancing its appeal with extra low-down torque in particular.
The Renaultsport Clio is a car you need to work hard to see at its best, but, then again, that's not such a hardship. Today, you'll need around £5k to get in one of the earliest 2006 models.

Buying and running a RenaultSport Clio 197/200

K-TEC Racing and 519 Automotive specialise in Renault's Renaultsport models. Here are the checkpoints that both companies suggest you pay attention to:

• K-TEC Racing recommends avoiding the 2006-onwards Clio 197s due to poorer low-down performance, and because of the gearbox fault listed below. The facelifted 2009 Clio 200 is better all-round, with 20% more torque, shorter first, second and third gears, plus improved mpg and CO2 too. But where the early 197s start from around £5k, the earliest 200s are just dipping below £10k. However, it's also worth noting that the Clio 197 F1 Team R27 from 2007 is one of CAR's favourite hot hatches. And, starting at around £7.5k, isn't a bad compromise.
• Early cars from 56- to 07-plate had a gearbox problem, the car crunching in second and third. Most were replaced under warranty, but not before much complaining on the part of customers. If you're looking at an early car, double-check that the gearbox has been replaced. The fault was remedied from late '07 onwards, and a taller sixth gear introduced to up mpg.
• Though annoying, it's normal for Renaultsport Clios to kangaroo along the road when cold, and little can be done to cure this. So, if you want one, you may well have to tolerate this quirk.
• The layout of the Clio's front suspension is quite complex, and the top swivel bearing is prone to wearing out on higher-mileage cars.
• As is the case with most Clios, the rear shock absorbers are prone to leaking, while rear brakes can become sticky easily, contributing to poor economy.
• There can be some confusion around the Cup trim level. This can be both a desirable – but cheaper – hardcore option, with a firmer chassis, plus a more pared-back cabin with cheaper plastics. However, buyers can also add the Cup chassis to a regular Renaultsport Clio. Either way, it's an option worth having. Recaro buckets are another desirable option.
• Exhaust manifolds are known to crack.
• Cambelts should always be changed by a reputable specialist: the Renaultsport Clio's F4R engine is very sensitive to cam timing and Renaultsport specialists report rectifying numerous botched cambelt replacements.


   THE KNOWLEDGE

 

SPEC

 

INSURANCE

PRODUCED: 2009 to present
ENGINE: 1998cc 16v four cylinder, 197bhp @ 7100rpm, 158lb ft @ 5400rpm
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
SUSPENSION: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
WEIGHT: 1240kg
LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT: 4017/1768/1484mm

 

1 25-year-old, three points, car parked on street, five years' no-claims' discount. £636, £200 excess, fully comp
2 35-year-old, three points, car parked on drive, full no-claims' discount. £407, with £250 excess, fully comp
3 45-year-old, clean licence, car garaged, full no-claims'. £289, £200 excess, fully comp

FOR SALE

 

PARTS

Clio 197, 2006, 54,000 miles, full service history, including major service two months ago. New rear pads and discs, four new tyres, digital climate control, 12 months' tax and MoT, private. £5100
Clio 197 F1 Team R27, 2007, with all usual extras, including Recaros, Brembo brakes and Cup chassis, 1 of 500, 62,000 miles, full main-dealer service history, plus service eight weeks ago, 12 months MoT, four months' tax, private. £7395
Clio 200 Cup, 2009, 18,105 miles, full main-dealer service history, immaculate condition, 12 months' MoT, six months' tax, private. £10,495

Click here to see used RenaultSport Clios for sale

 
 

Headlight: £176
Exhaust backbox: £235
Shock absorber (front): £78

  

 

         
Buy a second-hand Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk5 Buy a second-hand RenaultSport Clio 197 Buy a second-hand Mini Cooper S/JCW Buy a second-hand Honda Civic Type-R Buy a second-hand Focus ST

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

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