As this future French classic approaches nearly 20 years old, we’ve compiled an updated list of things to look out for before you decide to join the club, in our Clio 172 Buyers’ guide for 2022!
Engine & drivetrain:
The Clio F4R engine is generally Bombproof and responds well to regular servicing.
Check for a hefty folder of garage receipts and invoices, especially given the age of these cars. Ensure that the cambelt has been changed at ~70,000 miles and if it hasn’t, walk away. The belt change on a Clio is a big job as there is minimal space within the engine bay, and without the belt change completed at the correct interval, the engine is prone to failure.
Additionally, don’t be concerned about a lumpy idle, it is commonplace on these cars and a small blip of the throttle will make it subside, at least for a while.
A High clutch bite is a warning sign that it’s on its way out, so either walk away or expect to pay £500-£1000 for a new one.
Take the car for a test drive and ensure you run it through all gears and rev ranges, and don’t be afraid of opening it up to check acceleration and braking. If you struggle to get the car into 2nd or 3rd gear, walk away as this indicates an abused drivetrain that is best to avoid.
It is normal for the gear lever to move around under hard acceleration/deceleration, and can be solved cheaply with some uprated bushes.
Suspension & Brakes:
Very little to worry about here, as long as the brakes feel firm on a test drive, bordering on track-ready brakes, you’re good. The same goes with suspension, a firm ride without excessive roll around corners is to be expected from the Cup Clio 172.
Rust is something that should be checked for as these cars age, especially in the UK.
Panel seams, welds and guttering should be checked for water ingress, as well as the inside of wheel arches and under the car etc. All the usual places you should check.
Outside of this, appreciate that the cars are now approaching 20 years of age and be prepared to be presented with imperfect paintwork on almost all 172s, so a few stone chips, dings and scratches are to be expected on at this age and price point.
Also, expect to pay a premium for the Racing Blue paint option, and much, much more for the famous Liquid Yellow. Both colors were an option from the factory but have become much more desirable as these cars have aged.
Foggy headlights are commonplace and can be cleared cheaply with a couple of hours and some elbow grease, so no need to worry.
The famous tale of the melting interior
Seats in good condition are a good sign, as the interior plastics perish on their own over time (thank Renault’s Material Engineers for that one) which can’t be helped, so well looked after seats are a sign of careful ownership.
Especially as these cars approach 20 years old, the interiors of most Clio Sports have become somewhat tatty. The surfaces of interior trim plastics such as the center radio/heating panel and window switch panels oxidize over time, losing the smooth, shiny finish they had from the factory.
The steering wheel is another victim of Renault’s material selection process.
The factory steering wheel’s trim tends to ‘melt’ over time. Again, this isn’t preventable and isn’t the previous owner’s fault, your options here are either a wheel refurbishment, an Aftermarket Wheel or simply just putting up with it.
And that’s it for our Clio 172 Buyers’ guide for 2022! We hope we helped you make the right choice and you enjoy your ownership as much as we’ve enjoyed ours.
If you’ve taken the pluge and are looking to start modding your Clio, check out our beginners’ guide to mods here: