Renault Clio 172 Exclusive | Spotted

Renault Clio 172 Exclusive | Spotted

01/09/2022

Most limited-edition hot hatch icons are mega money. Not all of them, though…

By Matt Bird / Sunday, January 9, 2022 / Loading comments

Almost uniquely, the luxury hot hatch is a French affliction. Think Peugeot 205 Gentry (using the GTI’s 1.9-litre motor with an auto ‘box), the DS 3 Performance (which was like a DS 3 Racing, but with gold bits) and the Gordini Renaults, which just sort of put iffy stripes on good Renaults.

It’s a bizarre fascination that, funnily enough, hasn’t always proven that popular with UK buyers. Those after a hot hatch don’t typically covet plushness, while those after luxury motoring probably don’t view superminis as especially opulent. Some others have tried it – think Mini Goodwood – but the pocket rocket luxury car is rarely a commercial success, not least because they often cost more than the standard car. And hot hatch buyers are often after a cheap thrill. There’s a reason why the various Cups, Rallyes and Trophys now command a premium as modern classics…

All that said, however, there’s something intriguing about the upmarket hot hatch as a used prospect – something like this Clio 172 Exclusive, for example. In most cases you still get a great hot hatch (one of the very best here), albeit with rarity and a funky spec now also counting in its favour decades later. Plus, as one of the less hardcore editions – one therefore less appealing to collectors – values haven’t soared quite as momentously.

The Exclusive did nothing to detract from the innate appeal of the Clio 172. Launched in 2000 as the first special edition of the model, the 500-unit production run (with 172 for the UK) featured a grey leather interior, Scarab Green paint and new 15-inch alloy wheels – that was it. Perhaps the resulting look isn’t as iconic now as something like a Cup or later 182 Trophy, but the modifications won’t be extensive enough to spoil one of the great fast Renault experiences. And it is a very nice green.

This Exclusive is number 161 of the UK allocation, a 2001 car with just over 100,000 miles. Plus, remarkably enough, not a single modification, which is another perk of this little hot hatch niche so many years after launch: those that were going to make track projects would start with a cheaper standard car or a more appropriate Cup, not gut an Exclusive of its lovely leather. As originality becomes prized as a classic, this one ticks all the boxes, right down to the CD player.

A sneak peek at the MOT history shows a car that’s had limited use over the past few years, but has passed without issue in 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2021. Perhaps it’s been stored in the hope of appreciation, but at £4,995 this 172 certainly hasn’t experienced the same sort of climb enjoyed by its more revered siblings. Nevertheless, while it’s easy to see why the Exclusive didn’t make much sense at the turn of the millennium, more than 20 years later it would be very easy to spend a lot more than £5k on a classic hot hatch much less entertaining than this one. With or without leather and a build plaque, fun should always be number one priority – fortunately the French are very good at that bit of a hot hatch, too.


SPECIFICATION | RENAULTSPORT CLIO 172 EXCLUSIVE

Engine: 1,998cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],500rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],250rpm
MPG: 35.8
CO2: 186g/km
First registered: 2001
Recorded mileage: 106,000
Price new: £15,995 (standard 172)
Yours for: £4,995

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