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Renault Clio (2005-2013) Buying Guide

Renault Clio (2005-2013)
Renault Clio (2005-2013)Renault Clio (2005-2013)Renault Clio (2005-2013)Renault Clio (2005-2013)Renault Clio (2005-2013)Renault Clio (2005-2013)Renault Clio (2005-2013)Renault Clio (2005-2013)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

Ever since the Renault Clio burst onto the scene in 1990, the stylish supermini has been synonymous with driving fun, affordability and comfort, so it's no wonder it's been Car of the Year on two separate occasions. The original Clio scooped Car of the Year in 1991, with the Mk3 taking it again in 2006. It's easy to see why the Clio turned the judges' heads: it was the first supermini to be awarded five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, it's roomy and it's good to drive. Avoid entry-level models and equipment levels aren't too spartan plus there's a wide range of engines and trims so there's something for everyone, whether you want outright economy and hot hatch performance. You need to buy with care as the Clio isn't synonymous with reliability, but put in the legwork and you could end up with a great small car for a surprisingly small amount of cash.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Cheap to buy
Cheap to run
Lots to choose from
Fun to drive
Spacious cabin
Smart looks
Economical diesels
Patchy reliability
Some cheap cabin materials
Unpleasant steering
Seats lack support
Key Dates 
8/05The Clio Mk3 debuts in three and five-door hatchback forms. Buyers have a choice of 1.2, 1.4 or 1.6 petrol engines, plus a 1.5 turbodiesel with 68, 86 or 106bhp.
5/06The RenaultSport 197 debuts in three-door form only.
4/07A 101bhp 1.2 TCE turbocharged petrol engine joins the range.
11/07The RenaultSport 197 Cup debuts.
5/08A Clio estate goes on sale.
11/08The RenaultSport 197 Lux reaches showrooms.
5/09A facelift brings a new grille, revised lights front and rear plus extra standard kit.
6/10The greenest ever Clio arrives, the 98g/km 1.5 dCi eco2.
7/10The sporty Clio Gordini 200 debuts.
1/11A simplified range cuts the trim levels to just Expression, Dynamique TomTom and GT line TomTom.
Checklist 
  • Bulbs are a pain to replace, so some owners don't bother; check that all of the lights are working.
  • Don't be alarmed if the steering is over-light, with very little feel - it's normal, and something that has attracted a lot of criticism from owners.
  • Air-con systems can fail, and even when set up properly and fully recharged they can struggle to cool the interior adequately on a hot day.
  • The diesel engine can suffer from turbocharger failure, sticking piston rings and faulty EGR valves.
  • Check the paint on the door edges of three-door cars. Because the doors are so large, they're easily scraped on walls when being opened.
  • Electrical faults aren't unusual, with items such as the central locking, alarm, ignition system and lighting all playing up.
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