At its launch in 2006 the Clio 197 was met with almost universal praise from the British motoring press as here was a quick little hatch that felt much more mature than its 1*2 predecessors and rather than the typical stiff suspension associate with cars of its class, the 197 was equipped with the kind of well setup long travel suspension that really make the most of British A- and B- roads. While the 197 is not perfect, it is a brilliant little car that perhaps surprisingly seems to wear its miles and age rather well, indeed most of the changes that make a 200 are relatively minor, so there is an argument that the 197 remains current. At launch the car was available in a single specification, with a reasonable options list, two solid (Ultra Red, Racing Blue) and three metallic colours (Albi Blue, Deep Black and Nimbus (silver)). Standard specification was generous, and included four piston Brembo front brake calipers with 312mm vented discs, 300mm rear disc brakes, functional rear diffuser, engine bay air extractors, air conditioning, comfort access (Renault key card keyless entry and go), 12 spoke 7½Jx17 ET68 alloy wheels with Clio specific Continental SportContact 3 215/45R17 87W tyres. In 2007, to celebrate their 2006 Drivers and Constructors championship victories, and as something of a sequel to the Megane 230 R26, the F1 Team R27 special edition was introduced. While this was much closer in spec to the standard 197 than the R26 was to the 225, it was nonetheless a popular model, introducing the Liquid Yellow to the 197 range, Cup chassis (first appearance on 197) and including Recaro seats, special graphics to the front, rear, sides and roof, and a numbered plaque by the handbrake all as standard. Most options were available except Cabasse (for some reason never offered with Recaro seats), sunroof and Speedline wheels. While the graphics can divide opinion, an R27 without the graphics is arguably no more special than a regular 197 with the same specification. After the R27 a cup chassis option was introduced on the 197, along with a lower cost Cup version. Visual clues to the cup chassis are anthracite 12 spoke wheels along with red brake calipers front and rear. Given that the anthracite wheels are a popular choice for aftermarket refurbishment there are many cars out there that might at first appear to have the Cup chassis, but are in reality just standard cars with anthracite wheels and repainted brakes. To be sure you can check the colour coding on the springs –orange & blue front and rear on the cup, blue & green front and orange & orange on the rear on the standard chassis car. Leather upholstery was available, however this was typically a retro-fit from a Renault approved supplier. The lower cost Cup variant has the following; Low series Clio dash, without steering wheel adjustment (tougher plastic with visible passenger airbag cover), no air conditioning, no marker on steering wheel, no cruise control, regular remote key, rather than Renault key card comfort access system, plain Clio pedals, black bodyside mouldings, black door handles, manual mirrors with black housings, no rear footwell vents, no rear speakers (though wiring is usually there), no tool kit. Limited range of options including manual air conditioning, Recaro seats, Speedline wheels. At the same time as introducing the Cup, Renault also introduced the Glacier White colour option on both the Cup and the standard 197. Cars built to around 8/08 had the TL4003 transmission, whereas later cars have the TL4024, which has a slightly different gear ratios including a longer 6th to improve motorway cruising, along with the remaining gears being adjusted accordingly. All 197’s have the F4R-830 engine, the 200 is fitted with the F4R-832, this engine is very similar but there are minor changes to the head casting and to the ECU map. Over the final few months of production Renault offered a “Lux” model, this took the standard 197 and added a machined finish to the standard 12 spoke wheels, auto-lights & wipers, climate control, leather upholstery, RenaultSport branded carpet mats. The 197/200 has many of the same positives and negatives as any Clio, other than generally improved build quality due to being built on a specific production line at the RenaultSport factory in Dieppe, rather than being built on the standard Clio line. One possible downside is the lack of a spare wheel; the boot floor on the 197 only leaves room for the tool kit, and if you want to carry a spare you will find that it takes up a sizeable proportion of the boot. On the plus side, with the shelf removed but the backrests in place you can fit in a set of four wheels, ideal for taking your sticky tyres to the track! Typical specification in 197’s seems to vary a bit with some non-Cup cars lacking mirror lights or rear interior lights, rear speakers and front tweeters. Options on the regular 197 included an upgraded “Cabasse” branded stereo with dash mounted CD autochanger and the main part of the stereo under the drivers seat, automatic headlights + automatic windscreen wipers, projector headlamps with dedicated fixed cornering lights + black headlamp surrounds, power folding door mirrors, electric panoramic sunroof with anti-pinch function + integrated sunblind, rear privacy glass, xenon headlamps including headlight washers + dedicated fixed cornering lights, climate control (ilo air conditioning), front Recaro sports seats, leather upholstery, cup chassis + 17 Anthracite alloy wheels + red brake callipers, 17" Raider part polished finish alloy wheels, 17" satin black Speedline alloy wheels, 17" white Speedline alloy wheels. Particularly desirable options are; Recaro seats, Speedline wheels, projector or xenon headlamps, climate control. Production of the 197 ended in 2009 when it was superseded by the Clio RenaultSport 200. The RS 200 is very similar to the 197, the main differences being; Revised front bumper & headlights Revised rear bumper diffuser Xenon headlamps no longer available 5 split spoke alloy wheels Revised tailpipes to suit new diffuser Different dash treatments Standard automatic climate control (not on 200 Cup) Optional RenaultSport Monitor Optional integrated TomTom sat nav Cabasse audio option no longer available Standard fit aux-input sockets at the bottom of the dash Delete rear middle seatbelt F4R-832 engine Altered spring and damper settings Shorter ratio steering rack on Cup and Cup-pack variants Options on the Clio RenaultSport 200 included: Roof panel in deep black Stereo with Bluetooth TomTom integrated sat nav HID headlamps with cornering lamps standard on 200 Electrically folding door mirrors Panoramic power sunroof Extra tinted rear quarter and tailgate windows Rear spoiler Recaro front seats Leather upholstery Anthracite exterior pack (front bumper centre section and rear diffuser) Carbon interior trim RenaultSport monitor Yellow facia interior pack Cup chassis settings (springs, dampers, steering rack, red brake calipers, anthracite wheels) 17” Raider alloy wheels 17” Speedline black alloy wheels 17” Speedline white alloy wheels Paint colours included; Albi Blue, Mercury (grey), Nimbus (silver), Alien Green, Glacier White, Liquid Yellow, Pearl White, Storm Grey, Racing Blue, Ultra Red. The 200 was offered as both Cup and standard from launch. The revised engine map and updated chassis settings enhance an already good car. Three special editions in the UK market; Gordini, Silverstone, Raider. Gordini Unique blue paint, with white Gordini stripes and white trim Machined finish 12 spoke wheels with blue or grey painted inserts Blue/white interior upholstery, steering wheel & tachometer Cup pack optional Silverstone Silver, with black roof Recaro front seats Cup pack Speedline Wheels Raider Matt grey or red 18” Megane R26R alloy wheels Leather Recaro front seats Red marker band to steering wheel Special gear lever knob While highlight to tachometer Silver painted interior trim Bluetooth RenaultSport carpet mats Buying Advice Like any car you should look for the usual signs that something is wrong; interior trim wear that doesn’t fit the mileage, non-matching VIN numbers, uneven panel gaps, cars registered on VCar, etc. Work out how important the spec is to you - things like climate and xenons can't be retrofitted. Projector lights can be retrofitted but the cornering lamps won't work. Recaros can be retrofitted but are typically expensive even when buying used, and can require additional resistors to prevent issues with the SRS airbag system and warning lamp. There are regularly posts from new owners on the forums saying that they bought a car without Recaros, expecting to pick up a used set and retrofit – these owners typically get a nasty surprise when they see just how in demand and expensive the Recaros are, even when used. On the plus side, the standard seats while not as attractive to look at, are still both comfortable and very supportive.