Renault Clio II, the little giant from Renault that came to turn the French image upside down and make things straighter than freshly drilled teeth at the dentist. But did it succeed?

I wouldn’t be writing about the Renault Clio II if it wasn’t such a popular car with beginners and ladies who couldn’t care less about cars. I wouldn’t have written about the Renault Clio II if it wasn’t so cheap. In fact, it’s the kind of car where the price listed is in triple digits pounds and it’s not by mistake. And yet, the Renault Clio II has its charms. If I were to compare it, it would be the city version of the Ford Mondeo II: it’s cheap, it’s abused, it’s poorly maintained and you still see a lot of these on the streets. No matter how much abuse a Renault Clio II takes, it will continue to crawl around with whatever oil it has left from the last oil change 3 years ago.


Is this the Clio that gave birth to the Logan, Sandero and Duster?

No. It’s the Renault Clio III which has the honour of having handed over parts to the legendary Logan which then became Sandero and Duster.  The Renault Clio II however is a classic French car: the French are very bad at expensive cars, but very good at small, basic cars.


Renault Clio II engines


  • 1.0 MPI of 59 and 76 horsepower – An engine originally intended for the Twingo, but somehow placed into the Renault Clio II’s engine compartment. Available as the base engine, the engine does a good job of hauling the bodywork because that’s all it has to haul: the bodywork. At this trim level, the seats and dashboard are optional.
  • 1.2 MPI of 58 and 75 horsepower – The 75-horsepower version eventually became the base engine for Logan and Sandero. By far the most popular engine on the Clio II, this engine suffers from an appetite for coilpacks and some can develop a thirst for oil, but that’s about it. 
  • 1.4 MPI of 75, 95 and 98 horsepower – What is merely the base engine in the Megane II is surprisingly quick in the Clio. As if Clio II drivers and chauffeurs go fast enough for performance to be relevant.
  • 1.6 MPI of 90, 110 and 115 horsepower – The 90 horsepower was only available on the Clio II and it’s not even worth it as long as you have the 1.4 engine. The 110 and 115 horsepower instead, codenamed K4M, makes the Clio a comically fast torpedo. Not very stable, but fast.
  • 2.0 F4R of 172 and 182 horsepower – Ah yes, the famous Clio 172 and Clio 182 after facelift. Worth a separate article because there are a few differences but this was one of sportiest and most fun cars of it’s day, and i’m not limiting the conversation to Renault. This was a comically fun performance car full stop.
  • 3.0 V6 of 230 and 255 horsepower – Yes, ladies, ladies, gentlemen and everything in between, the demented Clio V6 is based on the Renault Clio II and madness. The Clio V6 has as much to do with a normal Clio as incense has to do with heroin. But it’s good to know that someone looked at a Clio and thought “hmm, yes, we should bolt an 3.0 V6 petrol engine in the middle of the car, where the back seats normally are”.


  • 1.5 dci K9K of 64, 65, 68, 82 and 100 hp – The legendary K9K that we talked about extensively in the Megane III article. Only there we talked about an evolved engine, and here we talk about genesis. iPhone 3 vs iPhone 6. Pre Malone vs Post Malone. As for the engine, the variants under 90 hp (almost all on Clio II) have Delphi injectors, made in Romania between two bottles of moonshine. Bonus, you also get EGR problems so the only real diesel should be the one with Continental injectors, or check the history of the car and see if it’s had had the injectors replaced.
  • 1.9 DTi of 80 horsepower – Available on the Clio only 1 year, this is the predecessor of the dci common-rail engine. Good luck finding this engine in a Renault Clio II but why would you want to be the Indiana Jones of cars, but exploring a Clio?.


Renault Clio II General Issues

  • Caution with all engines that have timing belt, as the timing belt must be replaced every 50.000 kms or you will wreck the 50 euros engine. This issue applies particularly to petrol engines.
  • The interior materials have been stolen from the Student campus and are of a quality that only a student would touch. Bonus points for the fabric that is constantly tearing up.
  • The automatic gearbox is an absolute disaster on the Renault Clio II. That’s a point of interest for the two readers considering a Clio II with an automatic gearbox. Seriously now, to buy a car that is priced to sell in double digits pounds and insist on an automatic gearbox.
  • Onwards to the bonnet which has a french clamping system, and if the metal pull is not checked and greased from time to time it can fall off and you end up with a bonnet in the windscreen like Materazzi when he ended up with a head in his plexus from Zidane.
  • For those of you who insist on getting a Renault Clio II with a hatch, I’d advise you to get a basin ready because the hatch has a habit of getting stuck and it will rain in your car. Alternatively, I can recommend a mental hospital. And since we’re on the topic, The Clio II doesn’t like boot lock mechanism and breaks them as soon as it can.


Renault Clio II Verdict


Want something cheap and simple to drive around town? Renault Clio II. Can’t afford a car but still want a car? Renault Clio II. Don’t know or care about cars? Renault Clio II. The little giant may not look like much in 2020, but if it weren’t for it we wouldn’t have the Renault Clio III, Dacia Logan, Dacia Sandero, Dacia Duster or Clio V6. Yes, it feels like a cheap car, because it is a cheap car.  Except that cheap doesn’t always mean inferior.


What engine do I recommend? The 98 horsepower 1.4 petrol should be the most balanced engine of all. I’d also recommend the 1.6, but good luck finding one.