The French Shopping Car

Kangaroo

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RenaultSport Clio -02
Summer and track day season was beckoning and after a track day with my Porsche 944 I got a chill down my spine. There was just too much work to be done on it, which I'd known from the start, but now it became painfully apparent.

After managing to give aw.. I mean sell the Porsche to a Dane I went off to find something better. I needed something that was fairly modern and reliable with just a smidge more of practicality than the Yuppiemobile. A friend of mine had had a Renault Clio Sport for many years, abusing it on track days numerous times a year without too much complaint, it felt like the right car for me. These days they are going fairly cheap, being an unknown car here in Sweden (they go for the same price as a good one of the ordinary Clios of the same age).

I was incredibly lucky, finding a really good one on my first try. It was owned by a gentlemen racer, who bought it for a trip to the Green Hell and then kept it as a second car. It was well taken care of and in a nice condition, albeit it had run almost 150 000 km. I bought it really cheap and.. well. Now it is mine.

DSC_6102s.jpg

Body roll, yay!

So, a Renault Clio Sport 172. It's an 02 model, with 172 hp, weighing in at 1200 kg with a half tank of fuel and a way too heavy driver. It is fairly brisk and fun to chuck around. The chassi is a bit soft, but well-balanced (for being FWD) and the engine is glad to rev, but it also needs to rev which is a bit tiresome around town. I love that it lifts it rear inside wheel under hard cornering. It makes it more "alive". See Clarkson's review of the 182 to know what I'm on about.

After taking it on a track day three days after I'd bought it, I realized that some things needed to be improved. New brakes all around (with Ferodo DS2500 pads), a new stainless exhaust after the old one sort of.. fell off (a bit louder, unfortunately. I would have gone for the original one had it not cost ?600 and had a life expectancy of only two years) and a couple of rear wheel bearings have all been fitted. An extra set of wheels with Toyo R-rated tires were sourced and bought cheap.

Koni dampers and Eibach Pro springs are to be fitted as soon as the springs arrive. I also have had it in for a large service, new (better) brake fluid and a cam belt change, which apparently was just in time, judging by the state of the old one.

The car is now ready to visit the 'Ring again, albeit it will be my first time there. I'll go there this summer, just to absorb the atmosphere and put a few laps in. I can't wait!

Is it just me, or am I doing this backwards? I started off with a Porsche 944. I ended up with a small, French hatchback. The French car might be quicker, newer, better for looning around on track days and has a gearbox that you know.. works, but still.

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After a bit of a blast around some gravel roads. Lift-off over steer becomes really apparent on those..

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It sure looks alright for having 150 000 km under its belt.

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The Toyos are doing their job well. Even more body roll!

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Stupidly low exhaust due to rubbish rubbers. Soon to be better.

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For the paranoid amongst you.

Good photos: Niklas Falk
Proof photos: me
 
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Hbriz

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Nice! I'm considering a RenaultSport Clio when I finally get around to buying a car sometime next year :D (If I can afford the insurance:p)
How do you find the driving position in it?
 

Kangaroo

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RenaultSport Clio -02
Nice car! Congrats on a great purchase. Those days to the ring in the summer, might they be in the weekend of 14/15 august? ;)
I'd love for them to be, but I think that I'll be moving that week, so that might be a bit tight. :(

Nice! I'm considering a RenaultSport Clio when I finally get around to buying a car sometime next year :D (If I can afford the insurance:p)
How do you find the driving position in it?
Driving position is.. well, I know that I'm not in a Porsche any more to put it like that. You are sitting very high up (but still with loads of headroom), with either your arms stretched out or your legs cramped. I'd like to see the person Renault intended this car to be used by. An orangoutang perhaps? :)
 

Kangaroo

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Stockholm, Sweden
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RenaultSport Clio -02
Today I took it autocrossing. Uprating the suspension is in progress as well, albeit only the rear dampers are on so far.

I made a little in-car video from the autocross course. As you can see, it rolls like hell, but I'm working on that. Also, the ABS is cocking up when you slightly lift a rear inner wheel, going in to some sort of ice mode, making braking non-existent. Enough of the excuses, here goes the video.

 
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Ilpav

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That steering wheel looks WAAAAAY too chunky for racing.

I'd get one of these:

attachment.php


:D
 

Kangaroo

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Actually, the steering wheel is rather good for racing with. It looks thicker than it feels. I does not matter however, because the driving position is crap, so I'd really rather need a new steering wheel and another hub that extends the wheel towards me a bit more. At the moment it is either leg room and good reach of the wheel or stretched arms and decent leg room.

I just don't know if I'm feeling too tempted to get involved with the airbag though. <_<

On another note, I've owned the car for just over a month and I've driven more than 3500 km so far. I've driven more long journeys than I usually do, but there has been quite a few fun, spirited drives as well.
 
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Kangaroo

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To quote Ben Folds; "You better watch out, because I'm gonna say fuck". There are only a few times in a couple of years that really deserves that word, but this time it does. Fuck.

Today I realized that my CV boots are shot. Not catastrophically, disintegrated in to a million pieces, but both of them have split slightly. One has sort of de-greased, one just has the crack without having spilled any grease. Non of the joints make any bad noises, so things look decent. Not too bad really and not too hard to do you would think? Sure. Except it is summer (vacations), it is Saturday morning and tomorrow I'm supposed to be going on a 450 km trip. On Thursday next week I am to go Germany with it, visiting the Ring and such things, adding another 3000 km.

This is leaving me in a bit of a bad place. Either I'll skip the trip tomorrow, trying to spare the CV joints from (more?) damage, or I'll fill the boots with grease, seal it up best way possible and hope for the best and come back home on Tuesday and hope that a mechanic has time to fix it and that nothing has broken. If I go to a mechanic on Monday, skipping the trip there might be less damage. If there is too much damage anyway I will be screwed (without new drive shafts, that is). Germany must happen.

New drive shafts are only ?1000 + fitting. Quite a lot on ?4000 worth of car that I've already spent ?2000 on.

As I said. Fuck.

(Hope that no one minds my profanities. I'm just slightly pissed.)
 
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Kangaroo

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Oh, look at that lovely four-o'clock-in-the-morning-rant above. I apparently was a bit pissed then. It all sorted it self out, well except the money. Germany didn't happen after the local Renault dealer changed their quote three times on changing the CV gaiter, but that's forgotten now. What I can tell however is that the last six months or so have been spotless. The cold hasn't been a problem and it has been great fun sliding around all winter. It appears that my car is quite tail happy on loose surfaces, especially with the help of a Scandinavian flick. We do certainly like that. :)

In waiting for dry and clean pavement to appear, I've ordered a few parts to go on the car. I've had a bit of a problem with sub-frame/exhaust manifold knocking (common Clio RS problem) so some new engine mounts have been ordered. To improve handling a bit I've also acquired a set of Eibach Pro-Line springs to make it a bit stiffer. Unfortunately they lower the car by 20 mm, which I'm really not interested in (the more standard look on things the better) but together with the front Konis that I haven't mounted yet, they will make the car much nicer, especially since I'll get a bit more camber due after modifying the Konis with a file. Really high tech stuff this. :)

Over spring break, I will do my best to get to the N?rburgring once and for all. It's still not exactly set in stone yet, due to wanting to travel with a friend, but at least I'm all set this time. I just want to drive anything that's on a dry road right now. The snow is great and all, but I want to be able to but on my grippy rubber and go drive somewhere! It doesn't exactly help that I live one motorway exit from one of Sweden's most famous driving roads either. :driving:

EDIT: Why do I bother? No N?rburg for me, apparently. Five minutes after finishing this post my friend backed out. :(
 
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Hbriz

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Sounds like a good plan, I'm thinking of going for some stiffer springs at some point. I have a few things to address before getting around to that (some panels need respraying, thanks to some arsehole and his key), but how stiff are the Eibachs you went for? I don't want to completely ruin the ride but I'd like it to be a bit sharper.
 

Kangaroo

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RenaultSport Clio -02
Sounds like a good plan, I'm thinking of going for some stiffer springs at some point. I have a few things to address before getting around to that (some panels need respraying, thanks to some arsehole and his key), but how stiff are the Eibachs you went for? I don't want to completely ruin the ride but I'd like it to be a bit sharper.
Yeah, I saw that. Some people suck. :(

The Eibachs are stiff-ish. They are definitely stiffer than the originals, but since they are progressive I can't really say how stiff in a number. I only know that a friend of mine who ran a Clio RS of the same vintage said that the Eibach springs really improved the way the car felt and handled. He used it as a second car used by his wife for shopping and track car all in one for almost 8 years and was very satisfied with it, so I think that the stiffness is rather well-balanced between performance and comfort. I've only ridden in that car once on track, and that was unbelted in the rear seat, so I can't really say how good it is on track, but I do know that it was more than comfortable enough on the road.
 

Kangaroo

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I suck at this car thread thing. Time to round off this year of Clio motoring.

The Eibachs and the yellow Konis went on. Viva la revoluci?n. A completely different car. Much more responsive, less lifting of inner rear wheel, less rolling around bends, so a very well spent ?350 (yes, I got the dampers cheap). I also changed the engine mounts, all in good time it seemed, since the ones that came off were quite broken. I put a Powerflex bush in the engine mount that deals with movement length wise to stop the manifold hitting the subframe. All was well.

I only managed one track day this year, thanks to being a student. It was fun though, the best trackday with the car so far. The new springs and dampers did their work perfectly and combined with a bit more camber than before I didn't ruin my tyres either. Here, watch a video.


My line through turn four is wierd and bad, I know. It's just that I don't trust the car through there at all. The ABS sucks on this car, because when it lifts a wheel (which you do there) it won't let you brake at all at times, so apexes and smooth turn-ins aren't top priorities there. Stopping is. (This lap is two seconds slower than my best lap of the day, but I messed up the filming later during the day. So. Enough excuses for driving like a twat.)

After that fun excursion, the Clio was back to ordinary driving. I was caught out by an emergency braking SUV during rush hour once, so I now have a bit of a dented bonnet. It's not too bad, but I need to take care of it sometime. Nothing else was damaged, so I was lucky. The SUV only got a paint chip though, but seeing how it wasn't made of metal from old soda cans, I can see how that happened. My bonnet however, is.

Oh, right. Almost forgot. The subframe knocking came back a while after changing the engine mounts. I just thought the Powerflex bush was crap. It wasn't. When checking the engine mount under the battery, it appeared that the cast aluminium part that holds the engine mount to the car had sheared straight off, meaning that the engine was resting on the subframe. Oops. It appears that the cheese-eating engineers had had a bit too much wine for lunch and didn't bother using a different part compared to say, a Clio 1.2. Surpriced that it couldn't handle the forces.

Now, the winter tyres are on and I'm just waiting for some snow so that I can have a bit of fun with the handbrake and some lift-off oversteer. :)
 
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Hbriz

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I'm glad to see you're still enjoying the car. I'm going to look into the Eibachs and Koni Yellows, if I can get them cheap it sounds like it's well worth it. And yeah, I had the engine mounts changed last service. They were in terrible condition!
 

Kangaroo

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Oh, about the Eibachs. Go for the Proline springs, not the Sportlines. The Porlines are harder and doesn't lower the car near as much. Or, if you want it low and soft(er) go for Sportlines. :)
 

Kangaroo

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After a long and arduous winter, the sun is finally starting to come out and the roads getting dry. So yesterday, I joined a friend in his garage and did a service with oils (engine and gearbox), filters (oil and air), changing brake fluid and other small things such as improving an engine mount to put less wear on a driveshaft that some times bottoms out during cornering with grippy tyres. A common Clio problem, but easily fixable.

connyabamve.jpg


I also discovered that my bump rubbers were a bit perished, so I'll change those soon. I found a new bonnet in the right colour for peanuts, which will be put on this weekend. Otherwise, all is well in Clio-land. Now at 177000 km, and it has hardly missed a beat. Oh, it failed to start a few weeks ago, but that was only the fuel pump relay in need of some TLC with some WD-40 and some sanding. Lets just say that some electrics in the engine bay could have been placed a bit better. I think the Renault engineers had a bit to much wine for lunch the day they came up with this design. :)

In less than a weeks time the first autocross and the first track day of the year are planned. It is going to be great getting out there again, seeing how it only got one track day last season. :)
 
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Kangaroo

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Last weekend was spent fooling about at Mantorp Park, one of Sweden's largest race tracks. The Clio felt a bit out of place with 500 hp Subarus or supercharged Honda S2000 flying past on the long straight, but it was still really good fun as it is a circuit with more long, sweeping corners than the average Swedish track.

The car behaved flawlessly, except for the usual culprit, the ABS, which resulted in the need for some corrections during braking. Of course, one does always want for some harder springs and dampers to stop the car rolling so much in bends, but then again, I need it not to break my back going over a speed bump on a Wednesday morning.

A bit of video, sorry for the bad camera. I had a new bullet cam I wanted to test.
[video=youtube;G1W-RtZnikc]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1W-RtZnikc[/video]
 
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