Some of the top Hot Hatches over the years have come and gone, some of the more recent ones are going into super hatch territory, pushing over 300bhp from standard! But one hot hatch that sticks around is the Renault Clio 172 and some might even say it’s the king of the Hot Hatches.
We aren’t big Renault fans, the Renault fans are more reserved for the elderly and their crossovers like your Auntie and her Captur, but before all of this, the Clio was a real boys toy, a real King of the track. Here’s our thoughts on the Renault Clio 172 and how it helped shape the way we see Hot Hatches now.
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Renault had been producing some of their high performance vehicles through the years, till they eventually twigged onto a place in the market with their RenaultSport brand. Before they would produce the 172 in 1999, they produced the Clio 16v and the Clio Williams, which is a highly sought after car nowadays.
The Clio 172 went through 2 phases and a Cup series (which they produced in later models). RenaultSport used the same straight 4, 16 – valve engine with variable valve timing or VVT for short, which produced 170bhp from standard and ran a 0 – 60 in 7.1 seconds.
Later, the cup would trump that and become the second fastest Clio after the V6 and it pulled an official 0 – 60 in 6.5 seconds but AutoCar Magazine rated it at 6.2. Pretty sweet for a car that you can now pick up on Autotrader for less than £3,000.
Collectors and car enthusiasts around all know the significance of the Clio Sport range on the track, they have a presence which will shock most sports car owners. They even have a race named after them, the Clio Cup Championship.
With their quick, lightweight bodies and nimble cornering, they are brilliant for taking around the corners, they might not be the fastest in a straight line, but they sure make up for it around the tight spots.
They are particularly at their best when they are stripped out, fitted with some solid tight suspension and a bit of Camber to keep the wheels planted, giving them the best opportunity for that best track time.
The Clio 172’s are one of the top cars for the job because they are affordable to buy and affordable to fix, plus most people can fix them on their driveway with a 10mm and a few beers. That’s why you will find them being pushed to the limit on a track while Ted in his Porsche is scared to hit 6k revs and blow his engine.
Although from standard the 172 is a pretty nippy car, it comes with a lot of potential to do so much more. The engine is a great platform to work with and responds very well to tuning. You could start with your simple mods like a good induction kit and a stainless steel exhaust, then move onto some uplifted cams and then onto bigger things.
K-tec racing create a turbo kit for the 2.0 litre lump, which with a bit of work, some stripping and building, can get your car pushed to over 300bhp with a weight under 1 tonne, that’s pretty insane and can cost less than you think. Built not bought comes to mind.
If you’re looking for a Clio 172 to buy, you don’t have to have a lot saved up to buy one and you surely don’t have to have a great credit score because you won’t have to finance. As of Autotrader today, you can expect to see a good example with some decent mileage for around £2.5k.
This makes the Clio 172 a very affordable fun car, compared to other cars in their bracket like the Honda Civic Type R ep3 which still fetches between £3,000 and £5,000.
It’s this that makes them a bit more “expendable” and people have more fun with them, giving them a bit more when they drive them because they know they can replace parts. Cheap To buy, cheap to build, fun all around.
When buying a Clio 172 be sure to watch out for all the usual spots like rust in the arches, but also look out for a knocking in first gear, it could be a sign of the engine mounts failing. The exhaust back boxes rot and fall off and the gearboxes need a bit of refinement. But other than that, they are all fixable.
We highly recommend picking one up for a bit of fun, even if it’s just to tinker with on the drive and turbo build for that YouTube channel you’re thinking about.
Get out there and buy it and build it.
If you liked this post and found it inspiring, drop a comment below and share your thoughts and experiences, the Clio 172 is a great car and all you sport fans out there, give the Clio a round of applause.
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Founder of Boost And Camber