I brought my 1992 Clio 1.4 RT as my first car in spring 2003 for £300. It had been off the road for nearly a year so it needed a little TLC. The car was in an average condition, but had a few minor knocks and scratches which annoyed mew for the whole time I owned it.
When compared to what else I could have brought for the money this was an extremely good car. I had electric windows, electric mirrors and colour coded bumpers. All I needed to do to it to make it road worthy was change the exhaust from the catalytic converter back, tax and mot it.
The Clio has great looks and even thought the shape is now 15 years old. I did think it was a bit of a girl’s car, although no more than a Corsa or Fiesta. To try and tackle this I added some Renault 5 GTT alloys which I brought from the scrap yard and a 3 inch bore exhaust trim. My Clio had very comfortable cloth seats and also the original two spoke steering wheel.
The 1.4 RT has a 1390cc engine which produces 80bhp and 107N/m of torque. This basically meant that it was pretty quick for a first car accelerating to 60mph in just over 12 seconds. The top speed was probably close to 120mph although I only got it to 115. It was very unstable at this speed and I strong recommend that no one takes one of these over 90mph.
The big let down of the Clio was the brakes. I am quite a hard driver at times and I like to go fast. The 1.4 could get going quite quickly, but was rubbish at stopping. I often had the wheels locking up and tyre smoke bellowing from the tyres because I had charged into a corner or junction too fast. Luckily for me I did manage to stop in time and the police never saw!
The Clio is rather rattly at low revs, but when it is driven hard it makes a lovely whining noise and sounds like a high performance motor! It can handle abuse extremely well. I used to thrash mine daily and I didn’t have any real problems.
The handling is excellent due to the chassis design. You can really chuck it about and have some fun.
The only real problems I encountered with the 1.4 were to do with the starter and alternator. Both failed to work properly although I managed to get the starter to last an extra year (by hitting it with a hammer every morning to loosen the solenoid!). I had to replace them 9 months or so before I sold it. This was a very difficult job because of the awkward design of the Clio’s engine bay.
I also needed to change the exhaust as soon as I brought it, but other than that the only other costs were oil, spark plugs and a cam belt change.
The 3rd speed on the heater NEVER worked. The switch didn’t seem to do anything. I managed to get it to work on the slower speeds, but they were not as good for demisting. Also a few months before I sold it the washer jets got stuck and even when the water tank was empty the pump kept screaming away. I had to turn the car off three times and fill the tank with water again to get it to stop. –That’s French electrics for you. The car also ate rear brake light bulbs. I had to change them four times.
• More expensive to insure than 1.1 and 1.2 cars, but well worth it for the handling and extra speed. It wasn’t exactly that expensive either at group 5.
• The road tax was about £110 per year.
• It costs about £25 to fill it up and it does 40mpg. I used to get just under 100miles per £10 (1/4 tank) driving normal for me (So occasional high revving and generally not that careful about saving fuel)
This was truly a great car and I strongly recommend that people buy one as their first car. The Phase II and Phase III models are the ones to go for as the little annoying faults will have been rectified on these models.
I only sold mine because I wanted something faster and in better condition and upgraded to a 1.8 16V phase II version which is even better.