Even so, it still came riddled with faults. The interior was little different to that of a base model Clio shopping car despite that, at £27,000 in 2005, it cost three times the price. There was basically no luggage space, a turning circle of which a 52-seater bus would be none too proud and a terrible driving position. Dynamically the car still wasn’t that quick, its damping still wasn’t that great, its ride was positively poor and its steering offered no great sense of connection to the road. I remember setting off down a difficult road trying to keep up with a well driven original Ford Focus RS and was so far off its pace its driver had already got the first round in by the time I reached the hotel.
So why oh why do I want one now? It is I believe a fairly immutable rule that bad cars don’t turn good over time; they just get old. I’ve never driven a car which I thought was rubbish then but has somehow become brilliant now. It just doesn’t happen. And yet the idea of flipping up the garage door and seeing a short and stubby Clio amuses me. I love the way the car looks and when I fire up the V6 I know I’m going to love the way it sounds. It sounds pathetic, but I just love the idea of the thing, the fact that a manufacturer like Renault can take a perfectly passable hatchback and turn it into an utterly impractical mid-engined two seater.
This time around I’m going to be saved, and on two counts. First I understand the body panels are so scarce and expensive that even minor accident damage can render them Cat’ D write offs and though I’m not in the habit of crashing stuff, that scares me. Second, these cars, which in my mind’s eye have always been fifteen grand, now seem actually to be at least £30,000 for clean low mileage examples with no horror stories in their past. And while these cars are good, they’re not that good. Ok, they’re actually not good at all. Which, I fear is precisely why I want one.