1992 Renault Clio RN 1.9 diesel from UK and Ireland
Super cheap runaround for the poorly funded motorist
Water hose burst on the day I collected it. I put this down to it being driven hard for the first time in it's life.
Bearing failed on the rear nearside wheel due to the brake drum sticking and cooking it. Both parts replaced for very little money.
CV joint failed - joint and driveshaft £30 and half an hour to fit.
Bought as a cheap student run around, for £150 with half a tank of diesel and 6 months tax.
The engine was quite unbelievably noisy when cold, which made me popular with the neighbours on early morning starts. Even when warmed through it was an old school diesel, with seismic vibration at tick over and engine noise so loud at motorway speeds that all conversation had to be suspended until the services.
Actual performance was comparable to the 1.2 petrol, although the torque from the engine always made it feel quicker than that. It was quite happy at 70 on the motorway, and could do 95 ish flat out.
Gear change was fine, although the clutch was heavier than I was expecting. No real complaints though.
This car didn't have power steering, and was extremely heavy to manoeuvre when stationary, although once on the move it was perfectly manageable.
The handling of the car was quite obviously compromised by the big boat anchor of an engine where a light little 1.2 petrol would normally be. The choice of tyres (cheapest you have please!) didn't help, but plough on under steer was the name of the game. Very little fun to be had driving this car quickly on a twisty road, although in sensible driving it was perfectly fine.
The brakes were certainly powerful enough to lock up all four wheels on the lightest press with the £25 tyres I had fitted, pumped up to 45 psi to make the steering lighter. When I eventually put better quality tyres on the car stopping distances improved dramatically and it became safe to drive in the wet. A lesson learned there - even on the cheapest car rubbish tyres are not a good way to save money.
The seats were, on first acquaintance, like broken camp beds however it turned out that they were really quite comfortable on long journeys. Ride quality was good for a small car, and I made many long journeys in relative comfort. The heater, however, was awful. It took at least 20 minutes to get slightly warm air out of it, and in the winter the output from the heater never rose above tepid. I even flushed out the heater matrix to try and cure it, but I think they are all like that.
Of course with a car like this economy is what it's all about. I found that fuel economy did not seem to be very dependent on how hard you drove it - worst economy from a tank was 40mpg and best was 50mpg. Over the time I had it the average was 44mpg. The only disappointment was the £190 road tax for the year - the 1.2 petrol would fall into the lower bracket.
Parts costs were low where aftermarket alternatives were available, but the octopus hose from the expansion tank was £70 or so and was unique to the car.
As described, tyres can be had very cheaply indeed but to fit these is a mistake. In the wet the car was positively dangerous on cheap chinese tyres, whereas on even £40 branded tyres it was perfectly safe and secure.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th November, 2008