1997 Renault Clio RN Provence 1.2 petrol from UK and Ireland


One thing after the other


Rear brake pipe went after 2 weeks of ownership, giving VERY limited braking. Discovered when hurtling towards a queue of traffic at the lights; must have stopped an inch behind the car in front's rear bumper.

Sunroof leaks very badly. Discovered when turning a corner when my girlfriend was engulfed with about 2 litres of rain water. Used gaffer tape to fix.

The sunroof leak filled the ridiculously placed remote locking sensor with water, leaving me stranded. Found information later on the Internet on how to use the emergency immobiliser bypass. Every time I want to drive now, I have to input a 4 letter code on the central locking button, VERY ANNOYING.

Radio signal is horrendous. Fitted a CD/MP3; was better until someone ripped my aerial off.

Passenger side door lock broke with a simple turn of the key.

Battery earth cable went, leaving me again stranded. Needed to use a jump lead to earth the battery to get going. The engine management went insane on the drive home, cutting the engine out and leaving me once again hurtling towards a queue of stationary traffic with no braking assist. Ended up holding everyone up while trying to get it started with a jump lead to earth it.

Doesn't seem to want to start these days. Sometimes it's straight away, sometimes it's about 12 attempts.

Endless punctures.

Everything rattles and squeaks.

Typically for a Clio, the speedometer needle wiggles up to about 35mph.

Nearside front shock absorber is on its way out.

Needed a nearside front wheel bearing, and welding to the same suspension strut mount.

General Comments:

Seemed like a good deal for a car with very low mileage for the age, and in great condition.

The seats are comfortable, though the ride is very jarring.

The steering is quite precise, though it has no feel whatsoever especially at high speed.

Grip in the wet is brown trouser scary, despite good tyres.

The engine is very weedy. I wasn't expecting much from a 59 BHP 1.2, but it's worse than expected. It takes an age to get up to speed, which is dangerous when entering a motorway.

Fuel consumption is low, though the fuel tank is small.

DO NOT attempt to drive this car on the motorway. At speeds above 50mph, the front end is extremely vague, giving no confidence whatsoever. Approach 70, and it feels like the body panels will fly off.

Interior plastics look and feel awful. They squeak constantly, and bits of trim fall off around you; the sunroof winder handle fell off onto my bonce while turning a corner.

Boot space is good for a small car.

It has character, one of its only plus points. Like a puppy that does the toilet everywhere, rips furniture, but is cute.

Such a shame it has an endless list of faults, as it is likable.

If your buying a small hatchback on a small budget, buy a Fiesta or Polo instead.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th June, 2010

28th Jun 2010, 09:00

"One thing after the other"

Well, of course! It was a 12 year old piece of garbage when you bought it!

30th Jun 2010, 04:42

I had a 95 Polo before the Clio, and in 2 1/2 years it needed less than £50 in repairs, and never let me down once.

1st Jul 2010, 05:51


I was pulling away from lights last night and as I went to change into 3rd gear, bang went the clutch cable!

It turns out it was fitted wrong. It was stretched over the top of the self adjuster rather than through it, putting a lot of stress on the cable.

The impressive RAC guy made me a cable from steel wire and bearings. It took 45 minutes, but it feels better because it's fitted properly, and he said it should last better because of the high quality steel wire and bearing. So I am very happy with the RAC.

The clutch pedal action had always felt sticky and notchy, which was due to the cable being fitted wrongly doubtlessly by a useless DIY mechanic.

Won't bother getting a new cable as I'm probably going to scrap the car before its MOT in September, and get something much more modern.

14th Jul 2010, 05:09

Another update:

The clutch cable went again. It turns out the ratchet tensioner which is made of plastic has gone.

The part is only available from Renault at a ridiculously high price for a badly designed piece of plastic.

When Renault converted the Clio to RHD they never bothered to re-route the clutch cable, making it go through a complex path through the engine bay, which puts a lot of tension on the cable and plastic ratchet mechanism. Not impressed.

Cost £186 to put right.

1997 Renault Clio RN 1.4 8v Energy from Finland


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.)

Unstable idle.

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.

General Comments:

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