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Renaultsport Clio 197/200: Buying guide and review (2006-2012)

Renaultsport Clio 197/200: Buying guide and review (2006-2012) Classic and Performance Car
Renaultsport Clio 197/200 Renaultsport Clio 197/200 Renaultsport Clio 197/200 Renaultsport Clio 197/200 Renaultsport Clio 197/200
When the Renaultsport Clio 197 arrived in 2006 to replace the much loved Clio 182 it had big shoes to fill. Thankfully Renault has consistently managed to stay at the top of its game in the hot hatch sector, and the new car – now based on the Clio mk3 – was no exception. Despite its added weight, a more powerful engine and shorter gearing gave it an edge in acceleration. On the limit handling was perhaps a bit less engaging, however suspension upgrades and a mid-life update soon addressed these issues. 

By the end of production the Clio 200 had matured into a class leading hot hatch, it is still a viable daily driver and being the last manual shifting, naturally aspirated Renaultsport Clio makes it a tempting second hand buy for any nostalgic petrol head. 
 

Which Renaultsport Clio to buy?

 
The first Clio 197s were available in one specification level, a big step up from the previous generation, items such as keyless go, cruise control and air conditioning were all standard fare. Available in three-door body style only, the roomy Clio 197 was still a fair bit more practical than its predecessor, but tall passengers should still stick to the front seats. 

A year after launch the F1 Team R27 special edition was launched, other than unique red brake calipers and anthracite alloy wheels they also came standard with the newly released Cup chassis which transformed the handling dynamics. This became an option on all cars later in the year. The 197 Cup was also released the same year and was a stripped out standard car making do without most of the interior luxuries, it featured the Cup chassis and was £1000 cheaper as a result. 

Gearbox ratios were changed across the range in 2008, providing for less buzzy motorway cruising. Uprated synchromesh rings were also phased in as early cars could exhibit issues engaging third gear. A lux model was made available in mid-2008 most notably featuring leather seats, climate control and unique alloys.

A mildly face-lifted Clio 200 was launched in 2009 and introduced detail changes that amounted to a much improved car. Cosmetically, new bumpers, paint options and updated interior trim were introduced. Under the skin power was up by a marginal 3bhp but more crucially midrange torque was improved providing for a more flexible driving experience. The suspension received a major overhaul, with new front suspension geometry virtually eliminating torque steer and revised spring and damper rates providing a more supple ride. 

For a well-resolved car that offers a great blend of what makes so many Renaultsport hatchbacks great, the face-lifted Clio 200 is hard to beat. The earlier 197 cars should not be dismissed though as they are still a lot of fun and can be found at a substantial saving over later cars. Although for our money we would look for one with a Cup chassis and make sure that the gearbox is in good fettle.
 

Performance and specs

 
Renaultsport Clio 200
Engine 1998cc 16valve DOHC I4 
Power 197bhp @ 7100rpm 
Torque 159lb ft @ 5400rpm
Top speed 140mph 
0-62mph 6.9 seconds 
Fuel consumption 34.4mpg 
Gearbox Six-speed manual
 

Dimensions and weight


Wheelbase 2585mm
Length 4017mm
Width 1768mm
Height 1484mm
Curb weight 1204kg
 

Common problems

 
• The gearbox synchros came in for some criticism for being a bit fragile on earlier cars and 2008-on models featured revised components but issues can still crop up. Changes should generally be smooth on both version once the gearbox oil has warmed up.
 
• Engines are robust however be wary of aftermarket modifications as gains are small and free flow exhausts and modified intakes can make the cars very noisy. 

• Cars approaching the 72,000 mile mark will require an expensive cambelt service, factor this into the pricing. 
Fuel consumption is right foot dependant although don’t expect modern day levels of efficiency.

• Look out for warped rotors, front tyres that are excessively worn on the outside edges and excessively stone chipped front ends. These all indicate excessive track use.

• Suspension systems and brakes can wear out quickly if a car is tracked regularly. Knocking noises from the front of the car may indicate a failing steering rack but are not too pricey. Steering link rods can wear out regularly and are also not prohibitively priced.

• Interior trim can wear around the seat bolsters and on the steering wheel. Creaks and squeaks are generally normal but anything louder should be investigated.
 

Model history

 
2006: Renaultsport Clio 197 launched
2007: F1 Team R27 special edition released with standard Cup Chassis, Cup Chassis optional on standard cars. Stripped-out 197 Cup released featuring fewer luxuries and a Cup Chassis
2008: Lux version introduced with leather interior, climate control and auto-on lights. Gearbox ratios revised across the range
2009: Renaultsport Clio 200 launched with revised bumper, headlights and interior trim. Improved mid-range torque, uprated front suspension including softer settings on standard cars. Satnav and sunroof become available as optional extras
2012: Final Renaultsport Clio 200 rolls off production line
 

Clio special editions

 
Silverstone: Cup Pack, silver paintwork with black roof.
Gordini: Unique blue paintwork with white stripes
Raider: Leather seats, Megane R26.R alloys and red or matt grey paintwork
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites


www.cliosport.net – Enthusiast site for all Renaultsport Clio models
www.clio197.net – Enthusiast site for 197/200 Clio models
www.renaultsport.co.uk/forum – Renaultsport forums for all models
 

Summary and prices

 
The earliest cars start at £3500, admittedly a very tempting entry point that will see you behind the wheel of a high mileage Clio 197. For a few thousand more though you can get one of the face-lifted Clio 200s which offer a more polished drive. The lowest mileage 2012 cars can be seen for between £9500 and £12,000, with limited edition versions generally commanding a few hundred pounds more. 
 
Cup chassis equipped cars are more planted though even standard versions handle well and can offer a more compliant ride. There is a lot of choice out there so take your time and get the car that is right for you.

The Clio 197/200 models are sporty all-rounders, offering a raw analogue driving experience that some enthusiasts still prefer over the current, refined, paddle shifting, turbocharged Clio RS models. A future classic in the making, now is the time to get one. 
 
Words: John Tallodi 
Renaultsport Clio 197/200 Renaultsport Clio 197/200 Renaultsport Clio 197/200 Renaultsport Clio 197/200 Renaultsport Clio 197/200
Last updated: 19th Aug 2016
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