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RSPORT CLIO 197 - END OF TERM
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Well, the time finally came around. On Friday I drove all the way down to Devon from Manchester to part-ex the Clio against my new car - a 2006 330i Touring Auto. I'll get some pics up of the new motor later this week.

Took some finding the right BM in the spec I wanted and in the end I obviously had to compromise. But the closest match meant putting some miles in. Given that the Clio never once received any interest despite advertising since July, I'd come to the conclusion that I'd probably have to part-ex. Hopefully the old girl will go to a good home.

I still remember the first time I saw the press release images of the Clio. It was in evo, and the piece included the shots of the also new Civic Type R. That morning I got a text from my mate asking if I'd got evo, and commenting on how awesome the new Civic looked. But I'd quickly dismissed the CTR as, for me, the Clio just looked stunning. For several months beforehand there'd been rumour about what Renault would turn out, and there had been promises from them that, unlike the Mk2 Renaultsport Clio, the mk3 would come with besoke metalwork like the legendary mk1. And there it was, confirmed on the first pages of evo that morning. Big fat flared rear metalwork, along with matching flared front arches, front arch vents, twin tailpipes and the infamous F1-inspired diffuser. I knew as soon as I saw it that I was going to own one.

Fast forward 2 years and the time was right to place an order for one. The motivation was more complex than a sheer want. I wanted to scratch the new car itch at some point in my life and the price of the Clio would probably be more realistic than, say, something in the £20k-40k region ever would be. Added to that it still gave an increase in power over my 1.8 16v, it would (hopefully) be a turnkey car which, along with being more comfortable to cover increased mileage, was becoming increasingly important with work. The deal was easy as I knew exactly what I wanted and what I wanted to pay. Options specced were the Cup chassis, Recaro seats and cornering lights, with the Ultra Red paintwork. Total list price in March 2008 was £17,500, but I secured it for a good £3k less.

When the time finally came to collect it, I was like a giddy child at Christmas. It was a lovely sunny day as the taxi rolled up to the dealership. And there it was, slap in front of the doors. I even remember the tax driver asking if that was it, and then saying it looked "f**king gorgeous mate". I was one very happy camper. 8) The Ultra Red is a beautiful colour when clean, but key to the look is the offset of black trim. This was why I chose the cornering lights as they come with black internals. It was also a motivating factor in selecting the Cup chassis, as the anthracite alloys set the colour off much better than the standard silver ones.

For the first few months I was happy as Larry. But over time I realised there were a few things I didn't like, and that I missed from my old Clio. Throttle response was annoying - that DBW connection meant there was about an inch of dead travel at the top of the pedal and that remained forever irritating, especially if you didn't quite get it right on a hill start, as the car would either bog down despite increased pedal pressure, or it would rev wildly leaving you looking like a learner :evil:. It rode VERY hard. Way harder than it needed to. My mate had an R26 at the time and he couldn't believe how harsh it was. The steering was just too slow around the straightahead. There was zero feedback through the wheel, which did improve once I got round to replacing the tyres with PE2's and then better again with RE050s - although it still remained largely missing.

Above all though, as I'm sure you all gathered long ago now, I never really gelled with it from a driving perspective. For me its just too accomplished to actually be much fun at remotely sane speeds. The only time it really gave me a buzz was when me Barry and Rev drove up to meet with others for a drive through the Peaks. On some of the looser well-sighted B-roads, it just came alive. But the speed it seemed to need in order to come alive were just too high for me to be comfortable with. And I just wasn't comfortable doing those speeds these days. On the return leg home I just found it irritating trying to keep it fizzing. It needs to be kept over 5.5k rpm really and on the tighter stuff I just couldn't be bothered working the 'box that hard and consequently got left for dead, especially by Rev's Mito.

Despite all the above though, I know it's an absolutely ridiculously great hot hatch. Imo it's one of the all time best lookers, and I've had a number of strangers that have complimented me on it over the years. I love that Renault fixed what I thought were issues with the Mk2 Clios, not least giving it bespoke metalwork, striaghtening the driving position, giving it proper brakes with great feel and modulation, and keeping it with a revvy, fizzing n/a 4, with a great noise.

Unfortunately it also came with reliability faults. It's had:

New steering column
New Steering wheel
Several B-pillar seals
New Clutch pedal box
A rebuilt gearbox

In the end I was very sad to finally let it go, but time moves on. I'm a bit older now and with the new house will doubtless be doing lots of tip runs. Combine with a garage that can accommodate a weekend car, and doing ever more miles with work, the 330i was a complete no-brainer really and the drive back from Devon completely confirmed to me that I've done the right thing. I'll give my first impressions on that soon, but after 3 days it's :D

Updated December 3, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Good write up Merv. I have fond memories of the 197's they used to have Oulton Park, first car I drove on track and it was a fantastic little thing. I gelled with it wonderfully on track, the gearbox, steering and that engine were wonderful but the way it danced through corners was most impressive.

My brother bought a 200 in white over the summer, mit cup pack and Recaros and he absolutely loves it. Haven't had a go yet but it looks magnificent although the old 197 looks better, if only for the rear diffuser and exhaust set-up that looks like it came off an 80's F1 car. 8)

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Stolen Orions on fire off the hard shoulder of the M8. I watched neds litter in the dark near the Tennents shop. All those... moments... will be lost in time, like [coughs] tears... in... rain. Time... to die...

You may have answered my only question with your last few lines.

I was going to ask why, when you said the Clio was only alive at insane speeds you went for something like a 330i which I assume would need even higher speeds?

It was a good write up though and made me think of my AX GT. Lovely car but wouldn't have wanted to have a bump in it! :shock:

Get some pics up soon and I hope you miss the snow we have today.

Good write up. I loved my 330i saloons (had 2) and the engine sounds and is amazing. Beyond crap in the snow tho - Daddy: it's snowing in the UK? Awesome (non sarcastic!)!

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Cheers,

Ian

Nice write up.

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For sure

Cheers chaps.

Daddydadbo said...

You may have answered my only question with your last few lines.

I was going to ask why, when you said the Clio was only alive at insane speeds you went for something like a 330i which I assume would need even higher speeds?

Well, for a start it's a slushbox but also, compared to the Clio, it has more than enough torque. It picks its skirt up nicely though, without having to utterly nail it.

It's a markedly different car, unsurprisingly, and that's a good thing. If I'd gone for another FWD scrabbler, regardless of the 'box I think I'd have been forever comparing dynamics with the Clio.

It's also not too bad on juice, on a cruise. At a steady pace on the way down the Clio managed 30.2mpg according to the OBC, and has been averaging more like 25mpg on my daily commute. The 330 averaged 28.2mpg on the return journey, in much more stop/start conditions. I haven't yet worked out how accurate the OBC is on the BM, but you could certainly add 1-2mpg on the Clio. Even so, still reasonably close to not matter on consumption between the two.

It is quite amazing that you didn't have any interest in private sale over that period of time. :?

Vids of you sliding the 330 in the snow please. ;)

Thought I had more pics than that, seems not.


Note Jobbo sucking gut in.

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Knackered old hairdresser's sh1tter

Good write up.

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Kintegra y0!

Good write up. It's a car that always looked "right" to me, the Recaros seats, wide arches and vent gave it presence. I was always disappointed that you were disappointed, if you know what I mean.

But of course, the Mighty Mito would embarrass even a Puma in my hands ;)

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What's the difference between a BMW and a hedgehog?

Si_ said...

Thought I had more pics than that, seems not.


Note Jobbo sucking gut in.


Have you photochopped the Mighty Micra out of the pictures?

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DeskJockey
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Now fueled by heavy oil...

NotoriousREV said...

Good write up. It's a car that always looked "right" to me, the Recaros seats, wide arches and vent gave it presence. I was always disappointed that you were disappointed, if you know what I mean.

But of course, the Mighty Mito would embarrass even a Puma in my hands ;)

Agreed. A great looking motor., far better than the 172/182 IMO.

Even a Puma? What's under the hood Rev? Or is it simply your driving God skills? ;)

Updated December 3, 2012 at 12:02 PM

DeskJockey said...

Have you photochopped the Mighty Micra out of the pictures?

Not intentionally. Not sure whether you were parked further up the road, or we were still waiting for you to arrive? ;)

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Knackered old hairdresser's sh1tter

Si_ said...

DeskJockey said...

Have you photochopped the Mighty Micra out of the pictures?

Not intentionally. Not sure whether you were parked further up the road, or we were still waiting for you to arrive? ;)

I wasn't that far behind (most of the time)...

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DeskJockey
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Now fueled by heavy oil...

It is a brilliant looking car. The chap who bought my 330i earlier this year came to view it in his liquid yellow 197 Cup, similar spec to yours with the Recaros. Looks aren't everything but in the 197's case they make up for a lot, it seems :D

I remember test driving a 197 in about 2007 thinking that it might be a good car for my ex-wife (she'd always loved her old Clio diesel and the Civic Type R, so the 197 looked like a fusion of the two). It didn't feel quick, which was my bugbear; I guess on a test drive you don't throw it around like you do when you're used to a car, but it didn't feel enough like the CTR for us to buy it.

As for the 330i being fun at higher speeds; it's rwd, just whack it in M-2 and turn off the DSC. Hey presto, low speed japes.

NotoriousREV said...

Good write up. It's a car that always looked "right" to me, the Recaros seats, wide arches and vent gave it presence. I was always disappointed that you were disappointed, if you know what I mean.

But of course, the Mighty Mito would embarrass even a Puma in my hands ;)

There was clearly a disparity in driver talent, I'm man enough to admit that. But after about 5 corners on those much tighter bends I realised that even though I thought it still had a reasonable bit of shove above 3.5k, it wasn't enough to keep up on the exits with the Mito's turbo. It was instant loss of about 3 car lengths and I quickly realised I just couldn't be 4rsed trying to make sure I had it in an even lower gear. :lol:

I had a few blasts recently with it and it confirmed that it only started to fly or feel sharp above 5.5k. I do wonder whether going straight from the old Mk1 16v meant I was always destined to be a little underwhelmed, as much of the issues I had relate to it being a modern car. That said, I did drive my mates R26 immediately after tracking the Mk1 at Cadwell, and I loved that. It seemed to behave the same way. Ah well, I'm still glad I owned one.

As for fun in the 330, I didn't really buy it for that. I bought it for increased practicality and increased laziness, but whilst still being able to crack along when needed. Comfy, fast white goods really.

Cracking looking car the clio.

Typical clio though - needs revving to go ..

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evo featured Renault Megane R26 (c) Barry Club.

Swervin_Mervin said...

NotoriousREV said...

Good write up. It's a car that always looked "right" to me, the Recaros seats, wide arches and vent gave it presence. I was always disappointed that you were disappointed, if you know what I mean.

But of course, the Mighty Mito would embarrass even a Puma in my hands ;)

There was clearly a disparity in driver talent, I'm man enough to admit that. But after about 5 corners on those much tighter bends I realised that even though I thought it still had a reasonable bit of shove above 3.5k, it wasn't enough to keep up on the exits with the Mito's turbo. It was instant loss of about 3 car lengths and I quickly realised I just couldn't be 4rsed trying to make sure I had it in an even lower gear. :lol:

If you refer to that blast over the C&F we had, I wasn't prepared to push any harder than I was and I wasn't shaking the Mighty Mito off at all, that I could tell :lol:

Was fun trying though.

That was a fun run, I came away from that day thinking the Clio looked ace, but really wanting an ITR.

And Mike, Turbot + stupidity != talent ;)

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What's the difference between a BMW and a hedgehog?

andybond said...

Cracking looking car the clio.

Typical clio though - needs revving to go ..

Revving?

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Knackered old hairdresser's sh1tter

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