Renault’s popular supermini looks cheap on paper with lots of different models and a youthful personality. Running costs are low and standard equipment is plentiful. But the interior feels cheap compared to rivals like the Toyota Yaris and VW Polo. Space is also at a premium - especially in the rear seats. New Clio III is now in the showrooms so drive a hard bargain for the older model.
The second generation of the Clio was launched in the spring of 1998, with considerably more rounded and bulbous styling than its predecessor. Part of the radical concept of the new Clio were many components made of unusual materials to save in weight and repair costs. For instance, the front fenders were made of plastic and the material of the hood was aluminium in some versions. Originally the engine line-up was similar to before, with 1.2 L, 1.4 L and 1.6 L petrol engines and a 1.9 L diesel. In early 1999, a sportive 16V-version equipped with the new 1.6 liter 16 valves engine was introduced and eventually all the older petrol engines were upgraded to more powerful and more economical 16 valve versions.
In 1999 Renault launched the 172 hp Clio RS (short for Renault Sport), named Renaultsport Clio 172, with a 2.0 L 16-valve engine and a top speed of 222 km/h (138 mph). This engine was later upgraded to 182 hp. The top-of-the-range Clio however was the exotic mid-engined, rear wheel drive Renaultsport Clio V6, which placed a 187 kW (254 hp) 3.0 L V6 engine sourced from the Renault Laguna behind the front seats, with a top speed of 245 km/h (152 mph).