Used Renault Clio Hatchback 1998 - 2005 review

Category: Small car

Stylish looks and low running costs give the Renault Clio real appeal

Renault Clio Hatchback (98 - 05)
  • Renault Clio Hatchback (98 - 05)
  • Renault Clio Hatchback (98 - 05)
Used Renault Clio Hatchback 1998 - 2005 review
Star rating

What's the used Renault Clio hatchback like?

Like its fellow French supermini, the Peugeot 206, the Renault Clio lives or dies by its looks. It's far from the most talented car in its class, but if you love its appearance, you'll forgive it almost anything.

In many ways, its strength is its weakness. The same cute lines and diminutive shape that make it so easy to thread through tight city streets also mean the cabin and boot are rather cramped. To make matters worse, the height-only adjustment on the steering wheel, plus the soft seats, give an uncomfortable driving position, especially for tall drivers.


Stylish looks and low running costs give the Renault Clio real appeal

  • Chic supermini offers low running costs on non-performance models
  • It has a poorer drive and a smaller cabin than some rivals, as well as an uncomfortable driving position

With the exception of the Renaultsport 172, which is a credible hot hatch, the Clio's drive puts the emphasis on comfort. The smooth ride absorbs lumps and bumps well, although one consequence of the springy suspension is obvious body roll in bends, while the steering gives too little feedback to satisfy a keen driver.

Ownership cost

What used Renault Clio hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Renault Clio hatchback?

You can expect good fuel economy from any Clio, apart from the hot versions, especially on the post-2001 face-lift models. The 1.2s and 1.4s should return well over 40mpg, with the 1.6 only just failing to match that.

For the ultimate economy choose a 1.5 dCi diesel, which arrived in April 2001. Its official combined fuel economy is an impressive 65.7mpg, almost 20mpg better than the pre-face-lift 1.9s.

However, figures from Warranty Direct show that, although the Clio has better than average reliability, when things do go wrong, they can be expensive to fix, especially by the standards of rivals, such as the Fiesta and 206. At least Renault dealers have some of the lowest rates.

Our recommendations

Which used Renault Clio hatchback should I buy?

In April 2001, a revised Clio was introduced, and this is the best version to buy. It has a range of more modern engines, including our favourite, the 1.2 16v. This has a delightfully perky nature that makes the best of the chassis without overtaxing it.

At the same time, the dCi diesels appeared for the first time, and they are markedly better than the unrefined 1.9-litre units they replaced.

Interior quality, too, was improved at this point, as was the standard equipment. Four airbags, remote central locking and ABS became standard, while air-con, alloy wheels and a CD player were fitted on a significant number of models.

The pick of the many trims is Expression, one step up from the basic Authentique and introduced with the 2001 revisions. This has a sunroof, CD player and height adjustment on the driver's seat. Stepping up to Dynamique adds alloys, while Privilege has air-con, and top-spec Initiale has four electric windows and a powered sunroof.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used Renault Clio hatchback?