With Clio 182 prices having bounced back slightly, with good ones definitely on the rise, we decided to have a butcher’s hook at its largely unloved successor, the 197. And, happily, it looks like there are bargains galore.
Through the 2000s Renault Sport had a knack of not quite getting their cars right the first time out. There was the phase one 172, only perfected with phase two and the later 182. Early RS Meganes were a bit disappointing, too.
The 194bhp 197 was ultimately seen as a bit of a ‘nearly-car’, but I have fond memories of spanking one around the Lake District when it was launched and seeing its flaws, but being impressed enough by its light-but-accurate steering and fizzy F4R 2.0-litre rev monster. Now then, back to the present.
The sweaty palms began when we discovered that 197s with sensible mileage had dropped below £3000. Then we found this car, which looks like an absolute peach. It looks super-clean, for starters, and original to boot. A tell-tale of a cared-for car is the premium tyre choice; in this case Continentals. All the signs point to one that’s been cherished, even before you get to the description.
We’d always like to go for the Liquid Yellow F1 Team version, which had chassis revisions that turned it into perhaps the car the 197 always should have been, but when the value is this good, do you really care?
It has eight months left on the MOT, comes with a six CD multichanger (remember those?) and some kind of aftermarket iPhone connectivity. It’s had ‘5+’ owners, which makes the amazing condition all the more surprising. The seller calls it A1 condition, and we can’t at this stage find any reason to doubt them. Someone please buy it before I do.