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Renault Clio (1998-2005) Buying Guide

Renault Clio (1998-2005)
Renault Clio (1998-2005)Renault Clio (1998-2005)Renault Clio (1998-2005)Renault Clio (1998-2005)Renault Clio (1998-2005)Renault Clio (1998-2005)Renault Clio (1998-2005)Renault Clio (1998-2005)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

Small is what the French do best when it comes to cars. Some of the all-time great cars have been French tiddlers and the Clio is no exception. With its funky styling and youthful appeal, the Clio is great to drive and cheap to own. But it can be frustrating too, because solid build quality is not a French strong point.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Great range of engines
Excellent ride/handling balance
Cheap to run
Cramped rear seating
Reliability should be better
Key Dates 
5/98Second generation Clio arrives as three or five-door hatch.
1/00Renaultsport 172 on sale along with 1.9DTi engine.
10/00Renaultsport 3.0 V6 enters showrooms.
4/01Facelifted Clio appears with revised nose and tail plus higher equipment levels. 1.5dCi joins range.
10/01Revised 3.0 V6 introduced.
6/02Renaultsport 172 Cup appears.
9/04Renaultsport Cup 182 on sale.
  • * Automatics can surge - cured by replacing faulty inlet manifold gaskets.
  • * On petrol models, fuel tanks may pressurise, spilling petrol.
  • Ignition coils fail; ultimately all four will need renewing.
  • Electric front windows of three-door cars can fall out.
  • Coil springs in front suspension of Clio 172s can fail
  • On cars with the 1.5DCi engine, the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valve can stick open or closed, eventually causing engine to self-destruct.
  • Timing belts on 1.2 16v can fail after just 36,000 miles. The timing belt, tensioner and water pump should be renewed with the belt.
  • Automatic gearboxes are proving unreliable, so check it changes ratios smoothly.
  • Seat material frays.
  • Sunroofs rattle.

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