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Used car focus: Renault Clio – 2001 on

This Clio retains the classless character of the previous two generations, despite styling changes in 2001 to bring it more into line with the rest of the Renault range.

It offers buyers more choice than other superminis, with a huge number of trim options, a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, the 172/182 hot hatch and even a manic V6.

Clio is showing its age and there’s a new, roomier car on the horizon. But it’s not the end for this Clio; it’ll be on sale during 2006.

Line-up

Authentique has electric front windows, twin airbags plus side bags, and remote central locking. Expression adds a sunroof. Expression+ has rear heating ducts.

Privilege gains an uprated interior and alarm. Dynamique has an alarm, 15in alloys, front foglamps, spoiler and sports suspension. Dynamique+ adds air-con, sunroof and CD player. Renaultsport 172/182 has enlarged front wings and roof spoiler, 16in alloys, aluminium pedals and climate control.

Driving and performance

Clio’s a hit with buyers because even the base 1.2 is fun to drive. It’s not refined, but the steering is accurate and it corners well; the body only rolls under very hard driving.

Dynamique models with the 1.4 engine (or larger) get sports suspension for even better handling. 172/182 models offer true ‘hot hatch’ handling, while the V6 is for enthusiasts only.

Comfort

Clio’s age is reflected in its packaging. The interior is cramped and old fashioned and although front legroom is adequate, larger passengers will feel cramped and room in the back is poor. Five-door models offer a bit more in terms of rear legroom and practicality, but not to the same standard as more modern rivals.

Engines

Entry-level 1.2 makes a great first car and is well suited to town driving; 0-62mph comes in 12.6sec. In everyday driving, it’s capable of 47mpg.

Pokier 1.4 models have 100bhp and perform much better at motorway speeds: expect 60mph in 10.2sec and a top speed of 115mph. The 110bhp 1.6 performs similarly to the 1.4.

The 172/182bhp Renaultsport models are convincing competition to the current crop of hot hatches, while the 3.0-litre V6 is sheer madness.

The 1.5 diesel (available with 65, 80 and 100bhp) is outstanding. It’s punchy, capable of motorway work and exceptionally frugal.

Safety

Despite its age, Clio still gets a four-star Euro NCAP rating. All models get four airbags as standard plus central locking and an immobilizer.

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