Utter the words ‘old French car’ to a mechanic and they might just run a mile.

Not exactly famed for their electrical integrity, cars like my 121,357-mile Renault Clio Renaultsport 182 are known as much for throwing random warning lights on as they are for being great driver’s cars.

That’s why it’s an especially nervous moment when I turn the ignition key for the first time in nine months. Will I be confronted with a spectrum of warning lights? Will there be an electrical fire? Will it explode?

Miraculously, none of those things happen. It takes just two turns of the engine for the Clio to burble back into life, and the car creeps out of the garage it’s been sheltered in since June 2016 with no stuttering from the engine and no creaks from the suspension. It rolls back into the sunlight like it’d only been parked up yesterday - which is odd.

Part 1 of Life with a used Renaultsport Clio 182

It’s odd because the reason I’d abandoned it under covers was the permanent presence of an illuminated engine management light, following the arrival of an untraceable and unpredictable misfire. Yet here I am confronted with a seemingly healthy Clio. Has hibernation fixed the problem?

After two miles it becomes clear the answer is a resounding no. Low and behold, the engine management light flicks on and when left to tick-over, the engine is lumpy and at times feels like it wants to stall. The car is also clearly still slightly slumped on its right front corner, although there are no ‘bings’ or ‘clangs’ when pottering over bumps, as you might expect there to be with a broken spring.

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