In the first week I got it, the drive belt of the alternator and servo-pump broke. Not exactly sure what caused it, but it was an easy fix.
A couple of months later the horn stopped functioning. I don't know the cause, as I haven't really looked into it.
The build quality is certainly not great either. I've had to remove some interior parts (for fitting a new speaker cable) and I was underwhelmed by the fit and finish. My previous Nissan Micra was a 10 year old car, but was much sturdier. However, the Clio doesn't have one rattle (in fact it did, but this was easily cured by fitting a small piece of foam).
The engine is supposed to have 98 hp, but it doesn't feel it. However if you look at the tach, you can see it does indeed move quite quick. It is capable of 202 km/h on the tach (about 190 on GPS) so it does have the power, it just feels kind of 'flat'. For a reference: a friend of mine drives a Opel (Vauxhall) Astra 2.0 with 115 BHP, and it' equal in acceleration and loses by 2-3 km/h in top speed. It does however have a good motorway response. I was really amazed the first time I drove it. With only 1400cc, one doesn't expect a good response at 130km/h without changing down a gear, but it does go quite well.
The handling is what I think is the strong part of this car. In Belgium the car was sold with a firmer than standard suspension in its 16v-version. I wouldn't say it's a Lotus Elise killer in the corners, but is does go fast. Very neutral and fast steering, followed by oversteer when lifting the throttle. The trade off for its good handling is a firm ride. French cars have a reputation for being comfortable, but it doesn't hold true for this car. Especially little bumps that come through quite harsh. It does get much better when fully packed, but then the engine has to be worked hard.
The brakes are very powerful, and more importantly, they don't fade. I drive cars pretty hard sometimes, and most get out of shape quick, but this little Clio doesn't. It remains very composed all the time.
The car is cheap to drive, is easy on tires, and easy on the gas; 6.5 liters/100 km if driven carefully, 7.2 when driven quick.