Now if I'm going to do car reviews, I can't exclude my favourite Front Wheel Drive (FWD) hatchback from the list. Let me present the Renault Clio 172 Cup!
These cars are easily affordable with prices starting around £1000 on eBay from Private Sellers. Those 'in the know' are clued up on the Dephaser Pulley, TDC Sensor (upgrade) and other sensors that need replacing as time passes - but you wouldn't be spending more than £300-£400 on everything if anything needed doing.
It is still my favourite FWD car out there - I did favour the Ford Focus RS305 for a while as that is another cracking FWD motor. The REVO KNUCKLE and Suspension Setup in the RS305 is amazing... until you tune the car and it all goes out the window. For that reason (and lack of useable grip) I went back to the Clio 172/182 as personal favourites if you're after some fun! The '172' can be remapped and still grips when cornering which is very important at speed. I have met three Porsche 911 owners who all have a Clio 172/182 as second car (daily/track) and that is enough of an answer for me. They are cracking cars!
Age is descending on me like wildfire so after an hour I tend to get tired driving a Manual. That said I am still considering one of these for winter, or as a permanent replacement to my VW Golf runaround - currently on loan to my Uncle who needed a car for work. Driving in traffic with a Manual Gearbox infuriates the bejeezus out of me! Grrrrrrr!
Firm and Sporty. I love how these little cars handle from the factory! There are several guys who use these on the track and change the suspension to Coilovers - which is understandable at a high level of motoring but I would have no end of fun around an empty track in one of these. Grip. Grip. Grip. And more Grip! It has a tendency to cock its back leg on some corners but it doesn't take away from the overall joy being in this thing.
Okay so it isn't a Ferrari with beautiful lines and curves that nibble at our hearts. But where it lacks in beauty they made up for it in simplicity. Firstly we have the 'missing' exhaust tailpipe which I love. Yes - it has an exhaust. Yes - it does its job. But there isn't a need to show off when the car performs as well as it does. I give this car 6/10 for looks.
It isn't the quickest off the mark in standard form - but this particular car benefits from my Remapping Wizadry and makes for a much smoother drive, with better pickup from low RPM's. Power wise I've never seen more than 8-9hp on Rolling Road, and an increase of 16-18NM torque. For a naturally aspirated 2.0 Litre engine the power gains are good enough.
There isn't any loud nonsense from this car, and if you inspect one of these vehicles underneath you will find a neat box at the rear of the car, with a little tailpipe that spaghetti's itself like a sleeping dogs tail. No Tom Foolery here.
Most of the noise comes from the engine, and it fills the cabin with enough of a note so you know when to change up a gear!
After writing this I am more interested in buying one.. What am I saying? I'd better start saving my pennies!
Nicholas Lawrence //ON CARS