The £2k Clio 197: Spotted


That there are cheap Renaultsport Clios in the world should be news to precisely no one. Indeed, ropey 172s and 182s have been in Shed territory for so long that the good ones are now approaching classic status - see this 172 Exclusive, priced at £8,990.

What the cheap Clio discussion hasn't yet switched to is the latter 197. Because, well, they're newer, obviously, and therefore have taken longer to fall into the bargain bracket. It wouldn't be a surprise to find fewer of them sold, either, though that's only a hunch.

Moreover, it would probably be fair to say that the 197 doesn't enjoy quite the exalted status of its forebears, and so perhaps attention is diverted away from it as a result. "Why wouldn't you just get a 182?" is surely being asked of laptop screens right this minute. At launch the 197 was criticised by Renault fans for being a bit soft and heavy after the old cars, while even the PH test preferred a Mini Cooper S for its more accessible performance.


However, there's a lot more going for the 197 as it approaches its teenage years. Let's just say, for example, as a track project, which could well be considered as the car gets cheaper. A car that thrives on revs isn't going to be a problem if it's exclusively for circuit, while the host of upgrades now available for the Mk3 Clio could give it the dynamic tenacity many felt was missing at launch. Should the worst happen, too, surely we'd all rather have a crash in a newer Clio than an older one.

This 197 looks like the perfect candidate for an updated cheap Clio track car. One of the later pre-200 cars (with the gear ratios from the Cup), its 133,000 miles mean it's available for just £2,000. Again, if it's only going to be used on high days and holidays, mileage becomes less of an issue; add to that the fact that this car had the crucial cambelt and water pump change in 2017 and you can see what an excellent base it could be.


Even for road use this 197 looks well set, with recent, discs, dampers and tyres. The MOT runs until October and the seller is only getting rid because of "purchase of an unreliable but fast Italian." Which has to be a good sign, doesn't it?

Despite all this, it may well be the 197's stablemates that conspire against its desirability. Because those 172s and 182s are still available for less than £2k, and the improvements ushered in with the 200 facelift may convince many to wait for those to bottom out.

Let's not be too harsh on it though, at the end of the day this remains a presentable example of a great 2000s hot hatch - with a lot of modifying potential - for the price of a fancy holiday. You're not going to get a contemporary Mini for this money and you're not going to want a Fiesta ST instead, so why not plump for a 197? It would be boring if everybody had the same hot hatch, after all...


SPECIFICATION - RENAULTSPORT CLIO 197

Engine: 1,998cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 197@7,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 157@5,550rpm
MPG: 33 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 199g/km
Recorded mileage: 133,000
Year registered: 2008
Price new: £15,995
Price now: £2,000

See the original advert here.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (66) Join the discussion on the forum

  • adingley84 21 Jun 2018

    Totally agree its a tempting proposition but i think we've all seen the Top Gear episode where the DS3 and 500 Arbath just walk away from it in the mountains. That lack of punch
    from lowish torque and higher weight just kills it for me

  • Rob.043 21 Jun 2018

    I bought one of these a few months ago, it is an absolute hoot!

    Interesting reading the article to see the sentiment towards the 197 is the same as it was 10 years ago. That being that the changes it brought over from the 182 were undesirable on paper or to road testers anyway, and the 200 as the last of the breed is the perfected model to have.

    I tested a 200 prior to the 197 and could not feel any difference in performance or handling. So when the older car was available for about £2500 less, that's the one I went for quite happily.

  • adingley84 21 Jun 2018

    Rob.043 said:
    I bought one of these a few months ago, it is an absolute hoot!

    Interesting reading the article to see the sentiment towards the 197 is the same as it was 10 years ago. That being that the changes it brought over from the 182 were undesirable on paper or to road testers anyway, and the 200 as the last of the breed is the perfected model to have.

    I tested a 200 prior to the 197 and could not feel any difference in performance or handling. So when the older car was available for about £2500 less, that's the one I went for quite happily.
    I'll admit mine is purely an armchair opinion! 😁😁

  • culpz 21 Jun 2018

    I thought i was looking at this ad the other day actually but the one i saw just had really vague details. It's certainly alot of car for 2k and this has clearly been well looked-after . They're generally solid cars but, if you get a bad one, they can be your worst nightmare. The 3k bill in the last year proves that!

    I love the shape of the 197's. It's so much more bespoke than the 172's and 182's and doesn't have that ugly front end of the 200's. The problem is that their weight can make the performance frustrating, the MPG is terrible in comparison and they have a few more common and expensive issues.

    In terms of getting the best bang for your buck though, the 172's and 182's offer the most value for money. They are starting to get on a bit now.


    Edited by culpz on Thursday 21st June 09:14

  • R66STU 21 Jun 2018

    I had one of thes about 3 years ago, great car but you really had to rev it out to have fun..

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