1996 Renault Clio RL Oasis 1.2 from UK and Ireland
A solid, reliable, uber cheap runaround with its own quirky va va voom appeal
8000 miles and no problems to report yet!
One headlight bulb.
Compared to its competitors of that era (Nova, 205 etc) it still looks modern enough to pass as 'retro chic'
The interior is a lot less quirky than other French cars I have owned (mainly Citroens), and is certainly function over looks. It worked hard to be Car Of The Year in the Nineties, and its austere cabin and 'safe' control layout is perhaps the result!
I find the driving position quite comfortable, and the little foot rest to the side of the clutch is a nice touch. The gearbox feels solid, and is perfectly usable, both under sedate AND quicker driving.
The view through the front and rear is good and helpful during close manoeuvres. The mirrors are good too, but not retractable (like the Mondeo I downsized from!)
I have to say, its spartan and economic cabin has its own charm. The RL designation means this is a base model (how I wish I researched cars BEFORE purchase - LOL) so that means no power steering and a very basic dash display. However, I tell myself that PAS is one less potential fault and just carry on cranking that wheel round! It's not heavy, just... a nuisance. Guess we all take power steering for granted in the 21st Century!
The Oasis Limited Edition gives you a tilt and slide sunroof (which is very big actually) and nice seat and door card patterns and some Edition specific wheel trims. Oh the excitement! But the French love their Limited Editions, and mostly they mean nothing of any consequence. (Williams excepted of course.)
The Clio has a valid reputation in France in being able to soak up a lot of abuse, and that is how it feels to be honest. Hardworking suspension is great over bumpy tracks, and the more common UK pot hole. The steering is a little 'wide' when taking country lanes at speed, and requires a decent amount of early turn in to save embarrassment and soiled clothing, but it IS well set up and hardly describable as 'vague'.
The bodywork on this 1996 model is in pretty good condition, with no visible rust or bubbling anywhere even on usual 'squarish box' problem areas, and all the door, hatch and front flip bonnet hinges are solid.
The engine has that little car whine as you move away and up the gears, but rolls along quite respectfully in and around town and dual carriageways. It was quite nippy in its day, and as traffic gets worse every year, I am quite smug behind the wheel of my little 14 year old £450 Clio as I squeeze through the smallest gaps and tuck into those car parking spaces with ease.
It is a genuine 50+ mpg engine, and my visits to the garage are so much less frequent than with my last car ('99 Mondeo). I marvel at how much I am saving to do the same mileage.
Okay, so I miss the effortless cruising and 'toys' of my Ford, but if function over fashion and cost over cool is your mantra - then I strongly point you towards this cute little French car.
Oh, and was 'Nicole' hot or was it just me?
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 26th March, 2010