124 kW, 200 Nm of torque and a claimed 0-100 km/h of 6.9 seconds. The previous owner had kindly taken care of the first two years of depreciation. From R210 000 to R150 000 with only 22 000 km covered. I was in love.
After the longest three days of my life I drove off the dealer's floor in my silver Renault Clio Sport 172, grinning from ear to ear.
Acceleration was exhilarating and the handling cart-like. The beautifully weighted steering wheel gave excellent feedback. Simply point and squirt, and the Clio could be thrown into sharp corners or sweeps at alarming speeds and with utter confidence. The brakes were just as impressive at shedding off the speed.
For the first few weeks I would literally get out the car shaking from the adrenaline rush.
Driving the car around town was an absolute pleasure. The 2.0 16-valve motor had plenty of lowdown torque for overtaking and normal use. It would pull hard from idle and then have an almost turbo-like boost once the needle hit 4 000 r/min. All hell would break loose in the upper rev range as the rev needle raced to the 7 250 r/min redline.
The Clio Sport had surprising specs too: automatic xenon headlights, auto wipers, traction control, climate control, 6 CD shuttle and a sunroof.
The seating position was comfortable with excellent lateral support from the mixed leather and alcantra sport seats. One niggle I did have was that the steering wheel was not adjustable.
Thanks to Renault's fixed pricing menu, servicing the car was not an expensive issue. It cost R640 for a minor 30 000 km service and R1 190 for the major 45 000 km service.
Brake pads were replaced upfront, which cost R540 for the set. I replaced that myself with little effort and saved the ridiculous labour charge of R300 per hour.
A few things went wrong during the year of owning the car. A sealed battery exploded, covering the entire engine bay with battery acid. This was apparently caused by an overcharge from the alternator, but all damages were covered by the warranty from Renault. I did have to pay R330 for a new battery though.
After 37 000 km, the car also developed an intermittent problem where the heater would get stuck on full. Not the most pleasant situation during the summer as I?m sure you can imagine.
A brief love affair
There were no fluid top ups required between services and an average fuel consumption of 7.2 l/100 km was achieved during mixed driving conditions. When the car was thrashed, the average quickly climbed to 14 l/100 km.
After covering 23 000 km and having the car out of action for only three days (including services) the year-long affair ended tragically when I traded in the car on a new Clio 3 1.6 Dynamic. I was not prepared to drive the Clio Sport without warranty and it was sold for R150 000 two days after I had traded it in - effectively not depreciating at all over the year.