French cars undeniably have a bit of a shoddy reputation amongst the car community; think unreliable, poor quality, cheap materials, etc. Whilst that is true for some French cars to a degree, that doesn't mean it stops the country of berets producing some absolutely legendary vehicles. What makes that even better is that these gems fall into this French car prejudice, and therefore you can pick many of them up for peanuts. Case in point: early noughties Renaultsport Clios.
Take this specific example, for instance. Here we have a very clean looking 2004 Clio 182 (yes, the one that famously cocked its rear wheel off the road on Top Gear), for just £2,300. It features - surprise surprise - 182bhp, will crack 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, and will top out at 139mph. For what is essentially a tiny little tin can, that's impressive - if a little scary.
It's not just the speed that impresses, either. When the 182 was released, journalists hailed the handling of the Clio. It had a playful nature that encouraged you to really wring it by the neck, and had a brilliant talent of sticking its rump out for some joyous lift-off oversteer.
Moving back to this particular find on Autotrader, we have a stunning blue finish with 87,000 miles, service history, and even (for some reason) a 64GB iPod with music preloaded thrown in. The interior looks in good condition, and the owner seems caring and considerate for the machine he's selling. So far, so good, then.
So why only £2,300? Well, firstly, as I mentioned before, French cars have a bad reputation that they're going to struggle to shrug off. That's a loss for the sellers, but a win for the buyers, so long as you know what you're looking for.
The performance will continue to impress, but other aspects of the car will have aged quite a bit worse. The annual tax for this bog-standard 2.0l four-cylinder compact car is an eye-watering £280, with a city MPG figure rated at just 25MPG. In an age where fuel prices are starting to rise again, that significantly decreases the desirability of this car.
Additionally, while that interior may be in good nick, it hasn't aged well at all. The plastics are unashamedly cheap and brittle, the steering wheel is oversized and awkwardly positioned, and the refinement is nothing compared to modern cars.
Still, if you can put up with the fuel costs, and can accept that you won't want to do a long distance cruise in this car, you could pick yourself up a genuinely cheap fun weekend basher. The high-revving N/A 2.0l engine is something of a rarity in these turbocharged modern times, so if you keep the maintenance up on this car, there is a strong chance you won't lose much money at all. In fact, you could even make a profit.
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