Don’t know about you, but it seems to me as though the hot hatch is back with a bang.
Those buying new are spoilt for choice, whether it’s the reborn Honda Civic Type R or the Vauxhall Corsa VXR. There’s something for everyone who wants to have more fun in regular driving conditions than they ever could in a supercar. Plus the shopping run is easier to deal with.
The latest Renault Clio Renaultsport 220 Trophy, I think, has a confusing name, but it is an intriguing proposition. New, that is. The thing is, though, that the pocket performance Renaults have always been incredible value used.
Clio 172 Cups are light and quite fantastic fun to drive. They can be found for as little as £1000 now, and you’ll get a later 2002 or 2003 example for just over the £1200 mark. Some of them have the usual boy racer mods that you would expect and quite often avoid, but sometimes the Eibach springs and suspension mods make things better, although rechips may not.
There are plenty of write-offs at this level, too, so you should be looking for the nearest thing to a full service history that you can find. They are out there, and with recent cambelt changes, too.
Still below £2000 are Clio 182s. That’s 10bhp more than a 172, which is a good thing, especially if it’s tidy. A well-specced Cup is all you need.
Or maybe you should trade up to a Mégane RS, specifically the 225 turbo. Just look at it. The styling is wonderfully odd in a way that only French cars could be and rarely are these days. About £2500 gets you into a mid-2000s example. There’s a 2.0T VVT Sport GT if you want a couple of extra doors, and that will be from around 2007.
It’s worth looking out for some of the special editions, such as the Mégane F1 Team, which has Recaro seats, funky black 18in alloys and a numbered plaque. The beefed-up suspension and recalibrated steering made a great car even greater, so the asking price of less than £4000 out of the classifieds makes it feel like something of a steal.
The 2006 F1 in particular is one for the investment garage. It may have to depreciate a bit more, but here’s one hot hatch that has all the hallmarks of bouncing back in value.
One of the nicest I found was just over £5000 - a proper example with a ton of Renault service history and even recent cambelt work, which should seal the deal.
There are other recent interesting Renaults that deserve a second look, but the Renaultsport range is one that deserves any performance buyer’s close attention. Used hot hatches never really went away.