Likely to be have been marketed towards the wealthy chic female Parisian shopper who required a nimble and responsive car with the tappings of decadence and comfort, the Renault Clio Baccara was a confident display of Renault's shrewd marketing know-how. The luxurious Baccara was part of a talented line-up that set a benchmark for road-holding, packaging, and practicality when it was introduced as the luxury model in 1991. In the UK, its rather high new asking price aligned it closely to the sport-oriented Clio Williams, but along with a memorable media campaign, both cars helped place the Clio as one the best selling small cars of the decade.
With a recorded mileage of just 46,621 miles and two previous owners under its belt, this car has been spared much of the expected duress that these energetic and agile cars have been subjected to. This early 1.4-litre 3-door Baccara has become something of a rarity today, with less than 20 known examples remaining on UK roads today. Available in just three hues, the colour coded exterior and unique lattice alloys gave it a distinct edge above the lesser models. The car has all of its original fittings intact, which includes full leather seats, walnut trim, a six-speaker system with wheel-mounted audio controls and a built-in garment case.
Originally sold at the Renault main dealer in Wycombe Marsh Garage, High Wycombe in 1993, the car has only seen two former keepers over its 28 year lifetime. The original owner kept the car for nine years, before selling it to a neighbour, who then passed the car over to the current keeper. There’s no doubt that the combination of its eager engine and economy have been admired by its successive owners, but the added bonus of a plush leather and walnut interior, with several interior goodies not generally seen on supermini’s of the era, may have contributed towards its survival. Having served in relatively rural town conditions maintaining around 500 miles a year under its first two female owners, it saw a bit more use once the car was relocated to London 5 years ago, while still collecting well-below average miles. It was at this point that the owner was prudent enough to recognise the car rarity. While its nimble go-kart-like handling was well suited for London, the car was starting to acquire a few knocks and scrapes and in an attempt to give it a better chance of survival, decided to put the car up for sale.
The car comes with a current V5 and MOT to April 2022, it has also paperwork that covers the work on the rear brakes, a replacement coil and a pair of new front tyres from this year. The car has also seen anti-roll bar linkages, a silencer and a service in recent years.
The interior condition is a good reflection of the cars low mileage, with the presentation of the leather and walnut interior finish really giving this car an opportunity to shine. Furthermore, Renault's of this era have a reputation for slightly flimsy interiors, so it's a delight to report this one has been quite well preserved.
The seats are in good condition, with the driver's seat displaying a little scuffing on the bolster but all are in rip free form. The leather has minor signs of ageing but the seats retain their shape and comfort. The carpets are in good condition, with hardly any signs of wear as the mats have clearly played their part in preserving the footwell carpets. The boot carpet is also good, although there are copious amounts of pet hairs, which is fortunately mostly contained to the boot. The garment case which is mounted underneath the parcel shelf is quite a weighty item, which may have resulted in the loss of parcel shelf stay-cords. The boot plastic lining trim and door card plastic trim is in good condition with no significant damage or scuffs. The door cards may need a decent cleanup. They are adorned with leather inserts that are in good condition but will need a little attention. The Baccara motifs in walnut are in good shape with some signs of age.
The dashboard is in good condition with a small number of scuffs but in keeping with the low usage, in remarkably good condition. There are no cracks or discolouration observed on the grey facia or centre console. The electric windows and mirrors are functional, although the sunroof motor struggled to open. The dashboard controls, switches and dials are in good condition and all are said to function. The Baccara is also fitted with its original Phillips FM Stereo/tape player. The leather steering wheel is in good condition, with no significant signs of damage, with the gear lever and handbrake similarly displaying the same positive traits. The headlining is in excellent condition with no damage.
The first impression of the exterior is that the car has stood up relatively well when one considers the state of the average 28-year-old French Supermini. The car is structurally good, with all the key sections in solid form. This is confirmed by a quick glance at the car previous MOTs which suggests that there are no advisory notifications relating to structural corrosion, which puts this example ahead of many from the era. The engine bay has the odd touch of surface corrosion but overall appears to be good, with the tops of the suspension turrets and inner wings looking clean. There is surface corrosion collecting on the underside of the unpainted cross member, which would be one of the first jobs to investigate but it hasn’t got to a stage where it affects the cars structural integrity. The floor pan, boot floor and rear suspension mounts are also wearing their years well.
Externally there are a handful of corrosion maladies that will need to be addressed, the good news is that they’re contained mostly in small prescribed areas. The rear near-side and off-side lower arches have bubbles of corrosion building up with a small patch appearing on the top of the near-side arch. The removal of the plastic sill covers may expose the extent of corrosion. The bottom edges of the jacking points show signs of rust however, it has not been flagged as an advisory on its latest MOT, so now could be the perfect time to rectify it before it gets out of hand. The panels are flush with even panel gaps, all the doors open and close without obstruction. The car has clearly acquired a couple of minor parking knocks, with the most noticeable areas on the bonnet, lower section of the near-side door and the boot lid. They’re low-impact damage, likely to have been picked up by parking mishaps. The rest of the panels are in good condition. The Atlantis Green paint has done as well as you could expect for an early ‘90s French car, and while it has seen a fair amount of wear, it still retains a relatively decent shine with the lacquer standing up relatively well. No DIY touch-ups have been carried out, so the car is in genuinely honest condition with nothing to hide. The front is lightly peppered with micro stone chips, but nothing that has exposed the metal to corrosion. There are typical light scuffs and small marks across the car - so while it would benefit from a repaint, the car is still presentable.
The front bumper will need a slight adjustment, but asides from a minor scuff on the near-side corner, they’re in good condition with no cracks. The rear bumper is good with a handful of minor scuffs. The plastic exterior trim is complete, but do show some signs of age, they could be brought back to life without too much work. The scuttle plate and front grill trim have faded somewhat, but again could be brought up to scratch with some love. The distinctive and unique alloys are in need of a refurb, there’s no hiding this! However asides from the surface corrosion, they’re in straight condition with no significant scuffs or kerbing. If this was the first job for the new owner to undertake, it could instantly transform the visual appeal of the car. Both front tyres have been replaced very recently, all show good tread. The lights are in good physical and functional condition, with the front fog lights looking like there might be a sealing issue. The glass is good, with no significant damage. No cracks or chips were observed. The door and glass rubbers are in good condition, with some signs of minor wear in places.
The car started up with no issues at all, the engine firing up with the car reaching temperature without triggering off any warning lights on the dashboard. The E7J fuel-injected 1.4-litre engine ticks over nicely, with no unwanted noises coming from the engine or exhaust. There was no evidence of the engine burning or leaking oil. The 4-speed automatic gearbox functions well, with no slippage with a slight hint; it may have leaked gearbox oil in the past. A casual low-speed drive suggests no unwanted noises, knocking or thuds coming from the suspension, the steering was trouble-free with the power steering functioning well. The engine was remarkably quiet while in motion. The brakes were good, with no fade, grind or juddering. The engine presentation is brutally honest, it hasn’t been cleaned up but asides from the build-up of dirt, the core components, hoses, wiring and ancillary visual condition are all good. The exhaust is in good condition, with the silencer being fitted within the last few years.
Renault has a history of creating brilliant small cars. Factor in the durable and economical engines to the Baccara’s sumptuous and nicely presented interior, and you have a car that offers a unique take on the Supermini. The Baccara's sheer rarity appeal earns it kudos, but it can also be described as a perfectly accessible and low-maintenance modern classic. While this car would need a little effort to bring up to scratch, its refined chic character and exclusive interior are very endearing. After all, you wouldn’t disagree with Nicole now, would you?
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