It’s Not Available In Green But It Has Four-Wheel Steering

Renault’s 2016 Talisman revealed. It’s a sober and serious saloon. It’s the anti-Laguna. 

2016 Renault Talisman parked on a horrible concrete apron outside an impersonal architect´s house. All that concrete will make that place as welcoming as a builder´s yard in July. Well done Renault for the clicheed image: Renault UK
2016 Renault Talisman parked on a horrible concrete apron outside an impersonal architect´s house. All that concrete will make that place as welcoming as a builder’s yard in July. Well done Renault for the clicheed image: Renault UK

It took me a good twenty minutes of careful reading to get through the entirety of Renault’s very, very detailed press release. The three things that struck me most were the bit to do with emu feathers, the use of four wheel steering and the fact the Talisman is a saloon. Naturally the car is not available in green but ten other colours which can be summarised as two whites, two greys, two blacks, red, beige and brown. One of those blacks is only available on the Paris Initiale version. They won’t sell it in the UK or Ireland.

If you want to get Renault’s full low-down on the car you can read it here and I recommmend that you do. There are a number of conclusions to be drawn about the car plus the bit about emu feathers which I will come to later and it’s those I focus on though there is a lot more in the press release worth dwelling on.

When taking a photo, avoid having the subject positioned between the camera and light source. Direct lighting or side lighting is often best. And always have an aeroplane in the shot.
When taking a photo, avoid having the subject positioned between the camera and light source. Direct lighting or side lighting is often best. And always have an aeroplane in the shot.

Initially as one reads the text you get the impression of a car that, dimensionally, is quite big enough. The engine range is creditable and, as predicted by this website, the V6s are no more. That will save the motoring press from writing a dismissive review of the V6s but this is just a bit sad. Not a surprise. But a tiny bit sad.

The Talisman looks like having the same sort of engines as a Megane – three diesels and two petrol engines;  it’s a French car so engines are not really the story here though the carbon dioxide emissions on the 110 hp DCi motor are officially just 95 g/km. The gearbox situation is that the two petrols and the top-line diesel only get a dual-clutch, automatic transmission. So if you get a petrol you get an automatic ´box. Two of the diesels, the 110 and 130 DCi get the option of a six-speed manual or the auto box.

Another plane in the photo. You can´t park anywhere around here without a bloody personal aeroplane being in the way. Dennis, can you move the plane?
Another plane in the photo. You can´t park anywhere around here without a bloody personal aeroplane being in the way. Dennis, can you move the plane?

Away from engines and onto the suspension and steering. I have called for Renault to do more with their four wheel steering and, lo, the Talisman has this feature. It is allied to an adjustable suspension which can be tuned for comfort, sportiness, eco and neutral. This goes with the possibility to alter the steering, interior lighting and even the type of air conditioning. Renault says this will help access the mood of the driver so that if she or indeed he is feeling the need for wafting then the suspension can be set to comfort but the steering and interior lighting will be tuned as well to promote a feeling of ease. This is the only point where I will quote the Press Release verbatim:

“Each of these very distinct settings creates and co-ordinates a specific driving emotion by adjusting:

The engine response

The EDC transmission’s gearshift calibration

The degree of effort required to turn the steering wheel

The active damping settings

The configuration of the 4Control system

At the same time, the in-car ambience is harmonised by adapting:

The colour of the ambient lighting to the required mood (green, blue, sepia, red or purple)

The presentation and colour of the information displayed by the instruments

The engine sound

The driver’s massaging seat, activated in Comfort mode

The performance of the climate control system in Eco mode”

It´s very straightforward. I hope lots of people choose this nice colour scheme. The geometry itself is out of the rational school-box. Is it a little Passat? And look, there´s a plane. Are Renault trying to imply something with this imagery?
It´s very straightforward. I hope lots of people choose this nice colour scheme. The geometry itself is out of the rational school-box. Is it a little Passat? And look, there’s a plane. Are Renault trying to imply something with this imagery?

I’m back.

Renault really do go into incredible detail about the details into which they have peered to make this car competitive. The styling explanation can wait for later. Note though it’s a saloon (like the German cars), it’s available in lots of greys (like the German cars), and no profile image of the car has been shown in the extensive press release series. That is a concern.

The interior is quite simply quite nice, particularly if you opt for the leather-coated Paris Initiale line up which is roughly on the same level as Ford’s Vignale Mondeo. That’s two manufacturers now offering a pampering, cossetting, boutiquey version of their family saloon. Renault are bullish about the Initiale version and make the point that Espace customers are falling over themselves for this top-line trim. This shows there is a market for Lancias.

The paint: this is where the emu feathers come into the story. At some point in the painting process (377 words of a description) feathers are used to utterly remove all possible flecks of dust prior to painting. I was going say that a lot of money was invested in the paint process. The press release reads is if €420 million was spent on the paint shop but that sum was spent on a hot stamping process, a new light-tunnel and a new quality optimisation procedure.

How much can a procedure and a light tunnel cost? I thought that Renault had noticed how lush Opel Insignias are due to their glossy, glossy paint after Bob Lutz demanded heavy investment in the coatings. Renault certainly want us to know these cars are going to look shiny and stay looking shiny. That’s good for sales and residuals which is good for sales.

Quality, quality, quality: paint, interiors and assembly. Efficiency: those five dreary engines. A 600 litre boot. Lots of grey, blacks and whites. And the only bit that excites me, the four wheel steering and the emu feathers. The obvious target for this car was the BMW 3-series. Renault are hoping John Travlolta and “aviation afficionadoes” might be interested, judging by the photo shoots.

That is the new Renault Talisman. If Renault is as serious as they sound about regaining the D-segment, the people who will worry first are Citroen, Ford and Opel – Ford most of all. And emus.


  • Length: 4.85m / Width: 1.87m / Height: 1.46m / Wheelbase: 2.81m
  • Rear knee room: 262mm – thanks to innovative new
  • Boot volume (VDA): 608dm3 / Total cabin stowage: 25 dm3
  • Not available in the UK and Ireland.
  • Grey, black, beige, white and red paint.


  • Diesel (with six-speed transmission, from 95g of CO2/km): Energy dCi 110 (manual or EDC), 130 (manual or EDC), dCi 160 (EDC)
  • Petrol (with seven-speed EDC transmission): Energy TCe 150, Energy TCe 200


  • Unique association of 4Control technology (four-wheel steering) and active damping
  • A personalised driving experience courtesy of Multi-Sense technology (Comfort, Sport, Eco, Neutral and Perso modes)
  • A shortcut button to switch instantly between Sport and Comfort modes

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

23 thoughts on “It’s Not Available In Green But It Has Four-Wheel Steering”

  1. Richard, thanks for this, especially the link to the Renault press release. I have skimmed it … wow! Actually, it makes the the top-end Initiale sounds like it will be very nicely attired, particularly inside, for as long at Renault can build it well (early Espaces have been reported as being disappointed in this respect). If you are (generously) going to take some time to provide us with your insightful view on the styling, I’ll wait to comment on how it looks, which I like in parts even it it seems highly derivative as a whole.

  2. Thanks. I will take my time on the styling. I wonder why they neglected to show a profile. It is usually the classic view of a car. I am quietly hopeful about this one, regardless of the looks. I like the idea of the adjustable suspension and four wheel steering. This car must, must ride beautifully. If it doesn´t I will be irritated. The French have to get their ride quality mojo back.
    What have people said about the Espace?

    1. I read a few of the French car magazines who tested cars at the launch event, and they all to some degree commented on aspects of poor build quality evident on interior and exterior trim, panel fit, etc. Surprising as the French press is often very jingoistic and non-critical of the home-marque offerings.

      I agree that there is cause for hope in the specification notes. It’s a shame the shape is, overall, quite conservative. I don’t like the shape of DRLs at the front, though (there, I feel better that I’ve vented that at least). Of course, it won’t be for sale in the UK, so the best I can hope for is for something to admire from afar.

  3. Autoexpress said this (the first review I have read): “The luxurious interior feels well built and comfortable. Its stylish centre console neatly houses that 8.7-inch, vertically mounted touchscreen, which serves as a universal command centre. Nearly everything can be controlled by swiping your finger on the screen: nav, audio, seat-massage function, head-up display and even driving modes.” I don´t think Car have bothered to give this car a review. I would have expected a four page spread.

    1. Car has put something up on the Talisman (not sure about the name), but it’s a bit glib, probably driven by the fact that it is not coming to the UK.

    2. Autocar has a photo of a near, full on side profile, if you are interested.

  4. It seems like a good effort. But will it sell? Renault are obviously going to a lot of trouble to show that both its build quality and its anonymity matches a Passat’s or an Audi’s. But it still isn’t one. Imaging myself as a potential customer, if I was given a company car list based on the limited range of usual suspects, I might very well choose the Renault. But if I was buying a car myself, I’d either want something more distinctive or I’d play safe and go VAG or GM/Ford. I still feel that Renault learnt the wrong lesson from the Vel Satis’s failure. It failed because it wasn’t that good overall (though nice in parts), not because it was distinctive.

    1. Spot on. If it had been a delight to drive it would have worked. I think anything with a Renault badge is going to have a hard time in the UK if it´s bigger than a Megage. Renault were right to not bother even trying to bother with this one. Would I go for this car? It depends on the drive versus the Mondeo and Insignia. For me the Insignia is the one to beat. It comes as a saloon and hatchback, note.

  5. I read Car´s item. It was about a 100 words long. I know it´s not a car for UK but still. The bit about Renault intendind the car to be part of a push upmarket “Yes, you read that right” the writer adds. What´s that supposed to mean?

    1. I think that’s the auto journalist’s version of those bits I see on the front of supermarket counter magazines like “Robbie’s Facelift Sensation”, desperately trying to involve their readers when my reaction, both to facelifts and Renault’s ‘move upmarket’ tend to be “do I give a fuck?”

  6. The whole car screams “Passat” to me. Strip away the DLRs and the front looks… well… Passat-ish. Same goes for the profile view (with a touch of Infinity-baroque).
    Since I actually quite like the new Passat’s looks, the Laguna, ehm, Talisman is quite handsome to my eyes.

    1. I didn’t really want to say it – everyone else has. The Talisman has a fair amount of whatever it is Renault thinks suggests Passat, with a beret on. One feature in the cabin hints at Gallic style and a few on the outside do the same. Isn’t interesting in the light of our discussion on French rationalism some while back that those quite sober 80s cars were not accused of copying the Germans but were orderly all the same.
      If I was a Renault designer I’d be asking my production engineers about how cars are put together not aping the last thing out of Wolfsburg. The secret of VW’s ability to woo buyers lurks in metal folding diameters, panel gaps, paint (!), shutline management and windowframes. It is not just about looks. A lot of those VW cars err towards the ordinary: Touran, Jetta, Sharan, Polo? Neat but underwhelming.

  7. My twopenneth is that the Talisman looks reasonably handsome, inside and out. The rear view in particular is very well done. Whether that will make a blind bit of difference to its sales prospects, I doubt it; the D segment seemingly evaporated for the French some time ago.

    Incidentally, I wonder how closely the Talisman is related to the Nissan Altima? They look similar in proportion, if not in sheet metal.

    1. Altima… Talima… Talisma… Talisman. Do the letters on the bootlid use the same typeface as the Altima badge?

    2. Renault Nissan Alliance today unveiled its radical Modular Badge Architecture program, intended to make savings of $1.5bn over the next 10 years.

      The Nissan’s Altima will contribute its lettering to the Renault Talisman. The remaining letters will be used on a special youth-oriented version in the style of the Opel Adam, the Renault Talisman Ian. In a reciprocal agreement, the successor to the Nissan Note will share badging with the next generation Renault Scenic, so will be renamed the Nissan Translucence. The Nissan Cherry name is to be revived, sharing its badging with the Shinny Racer S, a new sports version of the Twingo.

  8. When I first read the technical specs, I thought that this car could become interesting for me. Then I saw the pictures. Is there not even an estate version that probably looks a bit less conservative? Laguna estates seem to outsell saloons about 5:1 around here, so what are they going to sell in Switzerland in the future?

    With this copy of a wannabe German car from Korea or China, France’s pride of their automotive heritage really seems to be on a low point now, but who is going to buy from a company that isn’t confident enough to do their own thing?

    1. Exactly the trap the Citroen C5 fell into. Why bother claiming it is Germanic, when you could just have something German? (And on a lower monthly payment, because the residuals are that much better?)

    2. Exactly! At least the C5 comes as estate, which would make it acceptable to me (and sellable in small quantities in Germanic countries).

  9. A couple of observations: Firstly, Talisman is defined as being an object – usually inscribed, thought to possess magic powers and to bring good luck. I can’t wait to see the advertising campaign around that one. Certainly, from a sales perspective, Renault are going to need all the luck they can get.

    Simon: I could swear I read somewhere there is to be a wagon variant later in the year. I have no idea however whether it too will have magical properties. We live in hope…

  10. It’s a handsome car side on – with perhaps rear doors that are a tad too short – and with a masculine rear three quarter profile. But as stated above, the front just screams Passat to my eyes. The lidded eyes are a near carbon copy of the Passat’s and you can see they added the silly over designed DRLs purely to distinguish it from the VW. Which in turns just make them look like the tacked on afterthoughts they really are.

    Please Renault send the new Espace here – as that is something unique that might actually sell in the UK – but you can keep this thing to just the 3 that will be driven by the French Embassy in London. No one else in their right mind will buy this in the UK.

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