The Phase 2 version arrived in 2001 with restyled bumpers, xenon headlights, 16in alloys, redesigned sports seats and automatic, rather than manual, air-con.
A stripped-out version, called the 172Cup, weighing 1021kg and with a 0-62mph time of 6.7sec, landed in July 2002. Look for the lowered stance (it has stiffer suspension) and a restyled front splitter and rear spoiler. The air-con and anti-lock brakes were deleted.
Then in 2004 the 172 gave way to the 178bhp 182, and the extra power shaved a couple of tenths off the standard 172’s 0-62mph time (although the latter actually feels gutsier to drive).
The 182 has dual exhaust tailpipes in place of the 172’s single exit. They’re different systems (the 182 has no spare wheel well in order to accommodate it) but both are heavy and rattle as the mounts give up. A cut-price 182 Cup followed, but while it was stripped of much of the kit that made the standard car so attractive, it was actually heavier (1090kg) than the 172 Cup and is not so well regarded. More tempting were the optional Cup Style and Cup Chassis packs that allowed you to spec your standard 182 with the Cup’s front splitter/rear spoiler and lowered, stiffened suspension respectively.
Today, condition, service history and provenance are more important than registration year or model type. The one version that bucks this trend is the rare and sought-after 182 Trophy, produced as a thank you to UK fans for their enthusiasm for the Renault Sport Clio. Just 550 were made – 500 for the UK, the rest for Switzerland. In place of the conventional coil and spring set-up, it has exotic Sachs remote-reservoir suspension. We loved it, and as this issue went to press, one was being advertised for £5600.
An expert’s view...
CARL SMITH, REPAIR & RESTORE BODYSHOP
“We’re Renault Sport specialists. There’s nothing we don’t know about the bodies on Clio RS 172s and 182s, and how to repair them. The cars are getting on now and have had multiple owners. Some have had track day smashes, been patched up and passed on to unsuspecting buyers. Others have just been repaired on the cheap after a trip into a hedge. We can spot them a mile off. Rust is another thing, around the rear wheel arches and the rear subframe. We know where to look and can get to it before it takes hold.”
Renault Sport Clio problems - buyer beware…
Check the engine doesn’t rock on its mounts. Cambelt and tensioner change is every five years or 72,000 miles (have it done by a specialist); accessory belt every three years or 36,000 miles; oil and filter every 6000 miles. Listen for noisy dephaser pulley accompanied by power loss. Heavy exhaust back box on 172s can detach.