There's a road near Cuffley just north of London that I used to love charging down in my early years of driving. It's technical, cambered and a little bumpy, so cars with good body control excel while those that are more loosely held fall to pieces. Since swapping high-mileage springs and dampers for a set of Bilstein B14s last year, the 182 has flourished down this lane, so when I found myself nearby one sunny autumn afternoon the slight detour felt only right. That was until the I heard the first scuff.
Over the first compression in a bend the Clio's plastic sump cover dragged its nose on the tarmac, as if its chin had sagged with the first steering input. Anyone who's driven a healthy 172 or 182 will know how out of character this is, so when the same thing happened over the next corner and following bumps with a slight knocking sound to accompany it, I knew something was wrong. It's funny how quickly a feeling of affection can be replaced by frustration when you're behind the wheel of an older car...
My original thought that the issue was Bilstein related was (thankfully) proven incorrect by the white flag being waved by the front anti-roll bar. Turns out the rubber bushes - which are the originals so have suffered the demands of almost 129k miles on road and track - have perished, leaving the nose to flop about during lateral loads. Still, as annoying as an issue like this is, it does at least allow me to provide the 182 with another upgrade in the form of Powerflex polyurethane bushes. Every cloud, etc.
You'll likely be familiar with the merits of Powerflex's parts, and the Clio already has one of its bits in the gearbox 'dog bone' mount to tighten up the shift action of its five-speed. On the front ARB, the bushes are said to improve both body control and steering response, which to a person with a pointy hot hatch is like hot chips to lively dog. The next mod I had in the plan was a front strut brace, which conveniently promises the same improvements, so this minor mishap might actually act like a multiplier effect for my future ambitions.
Since discovering the problem, I regret to say that I've barely used the Clio, for fear of growing angry at its poorer form on the roads it normally entertains so greatly along. In fact, I've decided to give the car a bit of a rest over the colder months, so once the bushes are fitted in the coming weeks, the 182 will be going back to my parents' driveway'd abode (rather than living streetside outside my south London flat where that yet soon to be fixed bonnet dent was acquired), where it'll stay under a new car cover until the spring returns.
Thanks to the wealth of knowledge and advice on the PH forums, my search for a renowned cover maker was a quick one. I've gone with this Classic Additions example, which is cut specifically for the Mk2 Clio, is breathable and even comes with a security lock. Seeing Classic Addition's videos of an E30 that looks spotless under cover despite heavy snowfall last winter sealed the deal, because if the 182 is to spend winter at my parents', it'll be static for weeks on end. With protection from the weather, it should look its best just in time for warmer weather - and the 2020 trackday season.
Car: 2004 Renault Clio Renaultsport 182
Run by: Sam Sheehan
Bought: May 2011
Mileage at purchase: 74,457
Mileage now: 128,380
Last month at a glance: Worn anti-roll bar bushes prompt another chassis enhancement