Are you thinking of buying or investing in a used car??? Then this (the first in a series of blogs on affordable used cars to purchase) might be of interest to you. 

The Clio 197 Renaultsport has all the hallmarks to be an affordable, modern and classic car so read on to find out why.  In this blog I shall focus on the first phase 197’s – before the facelift and on a personal note….I think it looks the best.

Currently prices are pretty stable (at the time of writing this blog, prices start around £3,000 for 197’s that are “highish” on miles travelled and previous owners and over £4,500 upwards for “mint” examples) but they are still affordable.  As time passes I think that these cars will become extremely collectable.  I believe that if you buy the “right one” and maintain it (using it daily and enjoying it on the weekends) you may not lose a lot of money on it.  You may even make some money when you feel it’s time to move it on.

Here’s a brief history on the Clio 197 Renaultsport:

It was first introduced in 2006 priced at around £15,995.  It used a 2.0-litre engine which produced 197hp and 215 Nm of torque. A six-speed gearbox was standard and it could sprint from 0 to 62mph in just 6.9 seconds with a top speed of 134mph.

Things get even better….It uses F1 inspired aerodynamics (which was “a first seen” on a hot hatch car). Incorporated in the bottom of the rear bumper is an air diffuser.  As well as making the Clio 197 look good at the rear, it actually worked!! The curve of the diffuser produced a zone of low pressure underneath the rear of the car that sucks it to the ground at high speeds.  It is capable of producing around 40kg of downforce.

Rear air diffuser.

The Renaultsport aerodynamics work didn’t just stop at the rear diffuser.  Integrated into its larger front wings are side air vents.  These side air vents extract the hot air and flow from under the bonnet to the outside and directs it around the sides of the car (F1 inspired aerodynamics at work again)!

The Clio 197 Renaultsport’s front and rear track has been extended (compared to an average Clio) and it uses a double-axis strut system with its suspension.

The results…. pretty aggressive looks (from whichever angle you view the car) and more importantly….much improved corner handling. 

17 inch alloy wheels and Brembo four-pot calipers came as standard on this little hot hatch ensuring that you will have the stopping power too.

Inside, it has “Renaultsport” stiched in the headrests and the Renaultsport logo in the instrumentation.  There was even the option to order it with a pair of Recaro front bucket seats which adds to its racing theme. 

At launch, it was available in the following 5 exclusive colours: Ultra Red and Racing Blue (non-metallic paint) Albi Blue, Deep Black and Nimbus Silver (metallic paints).

Now here is why this enjoyable hot hatch has the potential to be an everyday,  useable classic car… they were built in Renault’s Dieppe factory which specialises in making the brand’s sports models like the current ALPINE A110.

It had its own one make racing series.  So it has a racing heritage….which is always a plus for a prospective classic car.

It has bespoke parts fitted from the factory, wider track, wider body panels, uprated suspension, more cooling aids and weight saving parts.

It has a normally aspirated 2.0 16V engine

At the time of its launch (with the price tag of just around £15,995) it was the fastest accelerating car from 0 to 62mph.

Having driven one (my brother bought an ex-demo one from a Renault dealership) I know first-hand how involving and fun they are to drive.  

However, there is the potential risk for the driver to push it way beyond his or her abilities resulting in very badly damaged cars.  Motorsport competitors and enthusiasts are buying them to compete in circuit racing and rallying.  All these factors will result in less and less of them occupying the roads.

Below is my recommendation list if you are looking to buy one.  I think it’s quite simple….

• Be patient and take your time viewing one. There are plenty out there coming up for sale.

• Obviously look out for major things like crash damage, poor repairs, written off etc…

• Go for one that isn’t modified.

• Full service history from a main dealer or specialist is great (part service history is ok but the price must reflect it). 

• Check all the usual suspects on test drive like a noisy engine, smoke from the exhausts, crunching or a noisy gearbox, bumps and knocks from the suspension and buckled or curb alloy wheels.

• If it has the Recaro bucket racing seats check for wear on the bolster.

• Ensure that it hasn’t had too many previous owners.

My personal choice of colour is either the Albi Blue or the Nimbus Silver.

To conclude…

If you are looking for a long-term car investment (when was the last time you saw a Renault 5 GT Turbo? Let alone the price they are now fetching) or a day to day useable car with some racing pedigree in its DNA and you don’t want to spend £1000’s then take a look at the Clio 197.

I can see the parallels with the classic Golf GTI, Astra GTE Mk1, Peugeot 205 GTI and Renault 5 GT Turbo, the list goes on!  30 years ago, there were plenty on the roads.  They were modified, stolen, crashed and left to rot.  These cars are still respected today (especially in my generation) and now command a premium for a good one.  The world of classic cars hinges on supply and demand….with a hint of car nostalgia. 

Very young looking Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault F1 racing drivers at the time of the Clio 197 Renaultsport launch.

With this blog post you could be getting ahead of the classic car curve.

There is a huge following for Renaultsport cars.

Therefore I see its protentional to be a classic car in the future.

Down memory lane….My brothers Clio Renaultsport 197.

If you are looking for some motoring inspiration for the spring and summer?  I hope this blog can be of some help to you.

Please tell me what you think. 

If you have any other car suggestions feel free to comment below.