Why you’d want a Renault Clio 172/182
At its 2000 launch, the 172 rejuvenated the hot hatch market and blew the Golf/206 opposition into the weeds.
It looked keenly priced at first, although when the Civic Type R came along in 2001 – closely followed by the Focus ST170 in 2002 – Renault had to cut £400 off its price to compete.
When the firm had led the field, it had pitched the Clio high and added lots of standard equipment, but this policy looked risky as larger and more competent rivals came in at only fractionally higher prices.
Renault really turned the tables in 2002 with the stripped-out 172 Cup, carving £3000 off the 172’s introduction price. Even the improved 182 was still £1400 cheaper when announced in 2004. The ultimate 182 Trophy, as pictured, was made primarily for the UK, which had proved to be the model’s most successful market.
British sales were Phase 1, 1357; Phase 2, 3059; Cup, 2392; 182, 5222; 182 Cup, 539; Trophy, 500. Rarity and kudos will always keep the all-red, numbered Trophy at the top of desirability and value tables, followed by the two Cups.
The 182’s extra power comes (marginally) at the expense of weight, so the original version – now scarce – will ultimately outstrip the 182, but currently the newer model retains a slight premium.
The 172 has been a bargain for 5-10 years, so beware – many have been thrashed on tracks, for which they are great value. The 750MC runs a popular 182 Cup race series, while many BTCC aces cut their teeth in the main Renault competition.
Even if they haven’t been tracked, few Clios will have been maintained as well as they should be. Look for low ownership and full history – and don’t be taken in by cars claiming, say, 10 years’ servicing because they have probably been neglected for the past five if there are no receipts. Conscientious home-mechanics keep records.
That said, a well-cared for car will be easy to spot, but bringing a scruffy example back to original condition would be far more costly than buying a minter in the first place. Shop around, looking on regular used-car websites rather than those for enthusiasts – prices can be half or less!
With an aluminium bonnet (on most, but not all), plus plastic front wings and bumpers, paint match is important. Especially if a car has been resprayed, check the inner structure – and paperwork – for evidence of accident damage.
Rust is only an issue on poorly repaired crashed cars; the exhaust is the only part likely to suffer from rot.
Images: Tony Baker
Renault Clio 172/182: what to look for
See above for trouble spots
Given regular servicing, the twin-cam engine is very durable. Check the dipstick oil level matches the electronic start-up indicator, and beware oil leaks from the rocker cover – a big job to re-seal if tightening doesn’t help. Also, see that the mountings are in good order and all covers are present: does the engine bay look cared for?
172 Cup and 182 Trophy have these lightweight Speedline Turini alloys. Michelin Pilots were standard: costly, but the cars are disappointing on poor tyres.
Inspect driveshaft gaiters (if they fail, replacement is time-consuming) and ABS rings. Cup suspension is often fitted to standard models for sharper handling.
Auxiliary drive belt takes out cambelt if it fails. It should be replaced every three years or 36,000 miles, cambelt and tensioners every five years or 72k miles.
Knocking in first and second is usually nothing more serious than failed gearbox mounts (uprated are worthwhile for hard-driven cars). Test synchros, too.
Check bolster wear and spec: hide and Alcantara standard, replaced by cloth on Cup. Recaro Sport Trendlines (optional 182; standard Trophy) are sought-after.
Confirm all electrical items work, from warning lights to the windows, climate control, washers etc. French cars from this era didn’t have the best electrics.
Renault Clio 172/182: on the road
Only the awkward seating position (especially for taller drivers) detracts from the fun of driving a well-maintained Renault Sport Clio. Whichever model you’re test-driving, it should feel taut, lively and fun on the road. And quick.
Officially the car needs to be serviced only every 12,000 miles or two years, but a dedicated owner will have fettled it more often than that. Changing the auxiliary belt at three years/36,000 miles and cambelt at five years/72k miles is vital; it’s straightforward on cars without aircon, but costlier on the majority that have it. The job is best done by an expert with the proper tools, and not DiY. A diesel-like noise at idle when warm denotes a worn dephaser pulley. Original exhausts (different on 182 because it has no spare wheel or well) rot out and are expensive to replace; most cars now have uprated aftermarket systems.
The clutch transmits a lot of power and an unsympathetic driver will need a new one at 30,000 miles. If it’s lasted more than double that, the chances are that the car has been well cared for. The standard brakes are more than adequate, though Brembo front discs and Ferodo pads are recommended for track use. Rear wheel bearings tend to wear out at about 40,000 miles, but they’re inexpensive to replace.
Headlight covers go dull and frosted, but can be transformed with a kit from 3M using a domestic power drill. Steering wheel ‘pickling’ can be an issue and is found even on otherwise immaculate cars, so look for it because unaffected replacements are not easy to find. Feel in the front footwells for damp from aircon leaks.
Renault Clio 172/182 price guide
- Show/rebuilt: £2500
- Average: £1250
- Restoration: £250
- Show/rebuilt: £5000
- Average: £2000
- Restoration: £1000
- Show/rebuilt: £3000
- Average: £2250
- Restoration: £750
- Show/rebuilt: £3000
- Average: £2000
- Restoration: £1250
- Show/rebuilt: £8000
- Average: £6000
- Restoration: £2500
(rare Liquid Yellow cars are up to £1500 more)
Renault Clio 172/182 history
2000 Jan Renault Sport Clio 172 launched: Phase 1 features 15in OZ alloys
2001 Feb 172 Exclusive model: 172 built, all Scarab Green, full leather, BBS alloys
2001 Jul Phase 2 (restyle, new interior, engine revisions inc electronic throttle): lower-geared, ABS, 16in alloys, 195/45 ContiSport tyres
2002 Jul Electronic Stability Program standard
2002 Aug 172 Cup added (chassis code CB1N): no aircon/side airbags/stereo/ABS/ESP, thinner glass, cloth seats, larger spoilers, wider track
2004 Jan 182 replaces 172: extra power from new manifold/cat, rear bumper lifted around twin exhausts, cruise control, automatic wipers, optional Cup Style/Suspension packs; Cup continues, blue/orange, but heavier with aircon etc
2005 Jun 182 Trophy introduced: suspension 10mm lower, Sachs electronic dampers, larger rear wing, Recaro front seats
2005 Sep Production ends
The owner’s view
Car nut Will Eatwell likes things that are fast and fun to drive: “I’ve had a Civic Type R and a V8 M3, but that was pointless because you can’t get away with driving fast enough on the road to enjoy it. The Clio is different; it’s fun and great value. I already had a 172 Cup with 50,000 miles on the clock and just two lady owners, but it looks as if it’s done 150,000.
“I’ve got a full track-day kit to put on it when I have time. It was cheap, but needed £1000 spent on it straight away. Then I saw this one. It’s done 75,000 miles and had 10 owners, but has full service history – and just look at the condition!
“I appreciate good examples that have been well looked after – I like an unmolested vehicle. Manufacturers spend a lot of money developing the best spec for the road, so why change it?”
FORD FOCUS ST170
Cosworth breathed on Focus with VVT plus sports cat and exhaust to produce rare ST170, with six-speed ’box and plush trim. Overshadowed by RS, it was a competent and usable hot hatch.
Sold 2002-’04 • No. built 10,915 • Mpg 18-31 • 0-60mph 7.9 secs • Top speed 134mph • Price new £16,495 (2002) • Price now £750-1250
HONDA CIVIC TYPE R
With VTEC, 197bhp and a six-speed ’box, the sparkling Civic looked streets ahead of the Clio. Though faster, testers found it not as much fun on twisty roads. The best are now costly.
Sold 2001-’06 • No. built 35,190 • Mpg 16-33 • 0-60mph 6.7 secs • Top speed 146mph • Price new £15,995 (2002) • Price now £2-10,000
Renault Clio 172/182: the Classic & Sports Car verdict
Track day fans ‘discovered’ Sport Clios a few years ago and many have been ruthlessly caned, while others have been broken for parts. Cherished survivors are scarce, and collectors are already snapping them up.
For everyday use, the standard 172/182 is the ideal choice, but for weekend fun the Cup and Trophy stand out, and are the most sought-after.
- Cheap to buy, but look carefully
- Cheap to run, subject to previous care
- Great fun to drive
- Values are starting to appreciate
- Many are knackered, reflected in price
- Difficult to get back to factory condition if it has been extensively modified
- Uncomfortable driving position for some
Renault Clio 172/182 specifications
- Sold/number built 2000-’05/172 – 34,798; 182 – n/a; 182 Trophy – UK 500, Switzerland 50
- Construction steel monocoque, aluminium bonnet (not all), plastic front wings
- Engine all-alloy, twin-overhead-cam, 16-valve variable-timing 1998cc four, with Bosch multi-point sequential electronic fuel injection; 172bhp @ 6250rpm-182bhp @ 6500rpm; 148lb ft @ 5400rpm-148lb ft @ 5250rpm
- Transmission five-speed manual, FWD
- Suspension: front MacPherson struts rear torsion beam, trailing arms, coils; anti-roll bar f/r
- Steering power-assisted rack and pinion, 2.8 turns lock-to-lock
- Brakes discs, front 280mm ventilated, rear 238mm, with servo
- Length 12ft 41/2in (3772mm)
- Width 6ft 41/2in (1943mm)
- Height 4ft 73/4in (1416mm)
- Wheelbase 8ft 11/4in (2470mm)
- Weight 2246-2403lb (1021-1090kg)
- 0-60mph 7.1-6.5 secs
- Top speed 137mph
- Mpg 16-32
- Price new £15,095 (172, 2002)