1997 Renault Clio RN 1.4 8v Energy
Could be better, but it is not the worst
Brake disks rusted, when braking the car pulled to left. I replaced the disks and pads.
Glass of the right headlight came off in car wash. (replaced)
Alternator's drive belt have started to wear.
Exhaust rusted once, and collapsed. (fixed)
Front indicators light bulb´s yellow colour weared off so that they became clear. (replaced)
Windscreen washer´s motor died.
Slight corrosion on tailgate just above the left taillight, due to badly done repairs (painting and primer) after some sort of a crash. (Going to be fixed soon.)
I also had to replace the original ignition leads, because of connection error between the lead from ignition coil to distributor. There was a burned hole on the side of the leads seal. I also replaced the spark plugs.
Radiator fan never spins, but the engine hasn´t yet overheated.
The seal of the windscreen got loose and started to emit noise when going over 110km/h. It was due to poor assembly of a aftermarket windscreen. It was easy to fix with universal silicon.
When cold (below -5 C) the tailgates support struts are underpowered and do not manage to carry the weight of the tailgate.
IMHO these are minor faults.
Clio is a nippy little car in town and after I replaced the stock tires with 195/50 R15 -tires it became surprisingly steady even on highway. Somehow the heavy steering and pedals create a feeling of a bigger car. The suspension is soft, it takes the bumps rather smoothly, but there is much less roll than I expected. With the lower profile tires I have never ran out of grip. Perhaps the handling could be improved by replacing the old shock absorbers, steering bearings and front springs.
The 1.4 8 valve (E7J) engine is really not a performer. The sound is rough and the age of the engine design is starting to show (compared to my mother´s -07 1.4 16V petrol Ibiza). Even the transmission feels like it came from a truck or a van of some sort. There is a quite an amount of low end torque, but in order to accelerate hard, for example when entering a highway, one has to rev the Clio a lot. I tried to improve the acceleration by adding a Pipercross foam air-filter, but the improvement was small, mainly psychological. In town the fuel consumption is high, 8-9 l/100km, especially when there are many cold starts. Also my driving habits must have an effect on fuel consumption. Last year, when I drove mainly long distances and kept the speed around 80 - 100 km/h, I recorded the lowest ever fuel consumption, which was 5.78 l/100km. My Clio does not burn or leak any oil.
Interior of my Clio is in mint condition. No additional noises are emitted from trim or dashboard. Not that spacious, but manageable. The back seat is rarely used because of the shortage of legroom. The noises are mainly tire noise and whirr from the transmission (I think). The seats are acceptable on short trips, but on longer distances they don´t fit me. The original stereo was perhaps the weakest part of the car, and was one of the first things to replace.
With mileage this low the Clio will most probably last for ages. The faults are mainly due to lack of use. It has been stored in a barn/shelter for last ~6 winters unused. The maintenance requires taking it to workshop every 15k - 20k km and multiple replacement bearings and drive belts. By the way, aftermarket spare parts are cheap here, if one doesn't care that they are not Renault-branded.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 15th February, 2009