Here's what bit I know.
For that money you should be able to find a decent 52 t0 53 reg.
Would avoid automatic gearbox versions.
The 1.2 16v D4F engine is nippy but seems to suffer with many electronic issues. Around 2003 they moved the engine
from the back of the engine and mounted it on the body. The
wiring looms on the earlier ones can give problems along with the electronic components.
16 valves doubles the chances of burned valves especially if the valve clearances have never been done- not part of a service I don't think.
The 1.2 8valve D7f engine has a bit less power but seems less problematic with a different injection system.
Basically same engine block and similar cambelt setup which is pretty straight forward to do.
Clutches same to do on both cars. Harder than needed to be due to subframe clearance but not too bad. Starter motors can pack up on both.
Haven't played with a 1.4 clio but same engine as my scenic. Good engine while running ok but can be awkward to pinpoint problems. Cambelt is major job and you really don't want to let one snap. £££'s
Clutch presumably similar as 1.2.
Biting point seems high on clio's even with new clutch but shouldn't be heavy or slipping.
Vehicle electronics on all models are overly complicated and prone to problems. Again, can be difficult to diagnose the issue. Everything and anything using electricity can play up. Immobiliser and central locking can give issues.
Models with sunroof can leak and cause electrical issues and damp problems.
Brakes on all are the usual stuff and fine if well serviced. Front discs can corrode. ABS rings on driveshafts can rot and crack but they are cheap enough to buy.
Suspension ok as long as looked after. Anti roll bar bushes are usually shot but cheap.Ball joints can wear. Springs can snap but what cars don't these days. Rear suspension is ok.
Steering is vague due to being an electric steering column. It can play up. New column is very expensive if bought new. Used prices less than £100. Steering rack track rod bushes wear along with track rod ends.
Body doesn't seem too bad for corrosion as long as it's not be bashed and crashed.
Bright red paint can fade.
Headlights can discolour but will polish up.
You want good condition and 5 door.
If you are fixing it yourself, I would say the best one is something like a 52 reg 1.2 8 valve.
Think it will have to be the Authentique to get that engine. Don't think they have a sunroof and maybe no leccy windows. Fairly basic but reliable.
Look out for ex boy racer cars and cat c write offs. Most kids like 2 door models.
Gold colour 5 door ones more likely to have been owned by mature drivers and will have been looked after better.
Make sure all elecrics work and NO warning light on the dash.
Less then 80,000 miles would be nice.
2 working keys a major priority.
Service history would be nice.
Try and get one with full mot and some tax rather than one off a side street cowboy who has never driven it. Mot doesn't mean much these days so be prepared to have to sotrt a few things.
Most general spares and wear items are cheap and plentiful luckily. If you can get a decent model for 1500 it would give 500 to fix any issues it has then hopefully it will be good for a few years.
If you have to pay someone to do any work on your car, It could turn into a money drainer but for the home mechanic willing to invest some time and money then it's probably no worse than any other similar car.
Bear in mind that it's generally people on here with sick cars so they aren't all bad. Just most of them.
This is on
at the moment. A new seat and query the warning lights and it might fit the bill if everything checks out. Seat might be due to a larger person sliding in and out rather than high miles. Might be higher than grp2 insurance with the new categories. Grp2 is a pair of trainers.
Think that must cover most things for 98-05 1.2 and 1.4 models.
Far too long to spell check so tuff !!!
Must add- anyone buting a clio, first job is lubricate the bonnet lock and sliding catch. Bonnet can flip up while driving. Look for cars with dents on front of roof!! It might have happened already.