Brilliant car - does everything I want it to!
No faults so far apart from a few minor rattles.
This is a car that seems to divide opinion. Most of the reviews on the site attract a lot of comments from people who say their car is faster/better etc, but to be honest, it's what it is, and a brilliant fun car in its own right.
The 172bhp engine is torquey, responsive, and revs eagerly to the limiter at a whisker over 7,000 RPM. Around town it has that lovely, effortless punch you only get with a big (ish) engine in a light car. Extend it, and it wakes up around 5,000 RPM as the variable cam timing does its stuff. Performance is superb - 0-60 in anything between 7.2 and 6.9 seconds depending on the reviews you read, and 130-something at the top end. Not Focus ST or Astra VXR quick, but more than a match for the mkV Golf GTI at anything like legal speeds, and more than enough to blow away the majority of dull boxes on the road.
Handling is brilliant fun, with plenty of grip, and a lovely mobile tail which lets you steer the car on the throttle at the limit, and tuck the nose tight into the apex almost telepathically. The ride is surprisingly good as well, which is something the French always seem to get right. There's a touch of torque steer when launching hard, but traction is hugely impressive for a FWD car. Steering is a little on the light side, but gives you a good feel for what the front wheels are doing.
The interior is a bit bland, even with the lovely half alcantara sports seats. There's acres of uninspiring grey French plastic, and the design is certainly more functional than attractive. The seats are fabulous, but the driving position can be a little painful on a longer run. Noise levels are acceptable as long as you're not going for it, when it's certainly a little loud, but the engine does at least make a decent noise. A lovely, rorty induction led growl which puts many eco-silenced modern equivalents to shame.
Styling on the outside though is superb in my opinion. The car sits quite low, with chunky alloys and a beautifully judged body kit which marks the car out from its lesser brethren when you really look at it, but doesn't scream "nick me" when parked up.
The other big surprise has been fuel economy. On my commute which is a 30 mile each way mix of motorway and A-road, I'm getting about 35 mpg as long as I don't stray too far over the national limit. Out at the weekends and enjoying myself, I'm getting about 10 mpg less. Still not too shabby for the performance on offer though.
I'm really pleased with the car. It's a quick, good looking, fun, reliable hot hatch which is more than capable of handling the commute with reasonable comfort and economy. Best part is I paid just 3k for it in a private sale in November - it is absolutely mint, and has only one owner from new with a full Renault history. Had I been prepared to compromise on mileage or condition, I could have had one for £500-£750 less.
I will report further as we go forward.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th February, 2008