Theme : Rivals – The Light and The Dark

We look at two proud Frenchmen who were really quite similar and so very different.

Renault, left and Citroën, right

There are certain notorious rivalries in motoring history. Many of them were sporting ones, in the Senna-Prost mould, which sometimes went beyond good sense and risked the lives of those involved. But there are also rivalries that at first seemed less visceral, but that had equally grim endings. One such is that between André Citroën and Louis Renault. Neither were self-made men from humble backgrounds in the vein of Herbert Austin or, even more so, William Morris. Both had comfortable upbringings, André’s possibly less stable due to the suicide of his father. Born within a year of each other, they actually first met as young children attending the same Lyceé. André studied engineering at the prestigious École Polytechnique whereas Louis was self-taught, building his first car before the end of the 19th Century and becoming part of the early history of motoring after forming a company with two of his brothers. Continue reading “Theme : Rivals – The Light and The Dark”

Theme : Brochures – The Myth, The Truth & The Alternative Truth

Deluded though the Brochure often is, what lies behind it can be equally deluded, albeit differently so.

kangoo-brochure

Back in 2009, we bought a Renault Kangoo Estate for work. It replaced a series of similar vehicles, starting with a Mark 1 Kangoo, then two Citroen Berlingos in succession. When I first visited the showroom, the New Kangoo had just been introduced to the UK and brochures had not been printed so, in response to my request for a brochure, the salesman gave me instead a full 55 page print-out of the ‘Distance Learning Guide’, a dealer sales briefing for the then newly introduced Mark 2 Kangoo. This made interesting reading alongside the public brochure that eventually arrived. In essence the brochure showed the usual, gurning, happy, young, lifestyle types of high-functioning humanity whereas the dealer briefing identified the Kangoo’s potential owners as ageing, low-ambition losers. OK, I’m exaggerating … but just a bit. Continue reading “Theme : Brochures – The Myth, The Truth & The Alternative Truth”

Well isn’t it Grand for Some?

Renault’s latest Megane Saloon is grand all right, but a coupé? We investigate.

Excessive eye makeup. Image: carwitter
Excessive eye makeup. Image: carwitter

The automotive landscape in the Republic of Ireland is broadly similar to that of the UK but there are, as one might expect, some exceptions. One of the notable ones, is a long-standing, if diminishing (according to my sources) preference for three volume saloons over hatchbacks. Of course, as Irish motorists increasingly follow their UK and European neighbours into crossover CUV’s, they’re discovering they’re being sold hatchbacks by stealth. Continue reading “Well isn’t it Grand for Some?”

Middle Class – 1986 Renault 21

There’s nothing terribly exciting about this class of ’86 Renault, but does that mean there’s nothing to say?

1986 Renault 21. Image: Auto Evolution
1986 Renault 21. Image: Auto Evolution

Some cars arrive with a flourish and leave a lasting legacy in their wake – for good or ill. Others live out more self-effacing lives then die without a whisper. Today we profile one of the quiet ones that simply went about its job until such time as its maker chose to replace it. Continue reading “Middle Class – 1986 Renault 21”

Micropost: 2002-2009 Renault Megane

Ostensibly I am writing about the Megane. Really I am concerned with something else.

2002-2009 Renault Megane
2002-2009 Renault Megane

Earlier this week contributer, Chris lamented the sameness of midsized family cars today. This Megane looks like nothing else and only looks better with age. Alas, its durability does not live up to the standard set by the aesthetics. I’m not going to write about that though.
Continue reading “Micropost: 2002-2009 Renault Megane”

Ashtrays: Renault 4

We are very proud of our focus on this aspect of car design: ashtrays.

Renault 4 ashtray- closed.
Renault 4 ashtray- closed.

This one serves in a Renault 4. The quattrelle had a three decade production run; it’s not fanciful to wonder if it could have endured as long as the Defender had it been marketed as slightly separate to Renault’s modern range. Continue reading “Ashtrays: Renault 4”

Ashtrays: 1976 Renault 30 TS V6

Just two Renault 30’s remain in Denmark. Here is the driver’s ashtray of one of them, another DTW world exclusive.

1976 Renault 30 centre console
1976 Renault 30 centre console. Careless join, isn’t it?

I may not have seen an R30 for decades. Like all Renaults these cars aren’t keepers so almost nobody has preserved them. The owner was embarrassed by the paint. This opportunity afforded me a close look at the finish, fit and materials. Having recently seen the 1975 Peugeot 604 I can see that the Renault doesn’t do things worse but differently. The ashtray is smaller than I expected; the R25 (how did the series number fall back?) had one maybe twice as large though. The position is okay; it’s a tray-type with a smooth action. If you want to see it open you need to… Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1976 Renault 30 TS V6”

Little Black Number: 2000 Renault Twingo Initiale

Here we have a micro brougham, the luxuriously tiny Twingo, heir to the R5 Baccara.

2000 Renault Twingo Initiale
2000 Renault Twingo Initiale

Those are wood inserts on the dashboard. You can argue that such a treatment goes against the spirit of the Twingo in which case you can always buy a base model. Continue reading “Little Black Number: 2000 Renault Twingo Initiale”

Micropost: 1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR

This is the poor man’s GTX. It had a 1.3 litre four cylinder engine producing 55 hp.

1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR.
1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR.

The 5 had five-speeds and disc/drum brakes. It’s a kind of warmish hatch with go-faster front seats from the hotter cars and the same super-plasticky dashboard as the other 5’s. The dash theme is a smaller-scale version of the one found in the R25 which wasn’t a lot better but certainly wider and deeper: Tokyo by night, as “Car” described it. Continue reading “Micropost: 1988-1991 Renault 5 GTR”

Not Your Regular Renault

DTW discovers how to jump the queue at your friendly Renault dealer.

Renault Badge

“Can you hear a whining noise”?

“Yes, I think so”

“I heard it a little while back, but it seems to be getting louder”

Hmm, the noise seems to rise and fall with engine revs more than speed, and it’s following us, so that means it is us. I pull off the road as soon as we see a parking area, and lift the rear hatch, casting my eyes and ears around the engine bay, trying to determine the source of the whine. It seems to be from the right hand side.

“Can you see a fine mist?” I ask. “Yes, down in the right corner” replies my wife. Not really what I wanted to hear, but it confirmed what I thought I could see – fine metal flakes emanating from the engine bay.

Bugger! Continue reading “Not Your Regular Renault”

Micropost: 2016 Renault Talisman

The other day I saw this car for the first time. A shortage of time stopped me from giving it a close look. It’s the Renault Talisman, in the metal.

2016 Renailt Talisman in Aarhus, Denmark.
2016 Renault Talisman in Aarhus, Denmark, in an unusual colour.

The French justifiably have protection for their film and television media. I wonder if something similar is needed for French cars. Ceci n’est pas une voiture francaise. I don’t have a cedilla on my keyboard, before anyone writes in. It’s quite professional and also dotted with a few oddities such as the faint swerve of the base of the side glass over the rear wheel, the eccentric shutline that dives from the base of the A-pilllar to the front lamp and the useless vent under the A-pillar. The rest is generic Eurocar. Continue reading “Micropost: 2016 Renault Talisman”

Our cars: 2009 Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup

A little bit of what you like won’t hurt you. Except when it really, really does. Recently I have had a couple of reasons to consider the meaning of the idiom you can have too much of a good thing.

2015-10-07 10.21.27The first came, perhaps inevitably, with a trip to the hospital. A few weeks prior, my knees had swollen and become painful to the point I could hardly walk. A week at home sat on my backside bombed out on powerful prescription painkillers (the only circumstance by which daytime television becomes tolerable) saw off the worst, but nearly a month later I was still knock-kneed like an old beggar under a sack.

X-rays and blood tests confirmed the initial diagnosis: the inflammation was caused by uric acid crystallising in my joints. Yes, I have Gout. Continue reading “Our cars: 2009 Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup”

Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup

A free-wheeling act of random charity leaves our correspondent flummoxed.

2015-10-07 10.19.13

A strange thing happened last Saturday. Gawping out of the lounge window in the semi-comatose state common to the domesticated house male, I clocked a silver Golf GTI driving slowly down the road. As it passed, I noticed that the driver was peering intently at my house. Odd, especially as I was not even performing naked star jumps in the bay window, which is usually what attracts the eye (and the ire) of passer’s by.

The GTI performed a three-point turn and pulled up in front of my house. The driver, a man whom I did not recognise, got out and walked up the drive. He then set about examining my Clio, which was parked in front of the garage. Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”

A Good photo for Friday: 1997-2002 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V

Before going on with this, I have to confess I have doctored the photo. As I took the photo there cycled past a man in fluorescent orange. He was right over the roof of the car in the un-altered image.

1993-1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V (modified)
1993-1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V (modified)

Twenty seconds later he was gone and the road reverted to the desolate, unpopulated and grimly suburban stillness that prevailed. If I had been more alert, I could have waited a few seconds and then taken a genuine photo of a desolate, unpopulated and grimly suburban street. For that reason I don’t have a very bad consciousness about removing the cyclist who I could have avoided having in the first place merely by waiting. Continue reading “A Good photo for Friday: 1997-2002 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V”

Taking the Scenic Route

Now that Renault’s Scenic has got a buff new body, will everybody want one?

Yep, it's the flippin' Scenic again. Image:ultimatecarblog
Yep, it’s the flippin’ Scenic again. Image: source

We auto-purists are a tough lot to please, applauding the likes of Renault for creating practical, sensible and versatile car designs which the market promptly shuns. Stung by the lack of acceptance, they attempt a redress and we throw fruit. Last week saw a debate take place here around the merits of the just-debuted Renault Scenic. Without being scientific about it, I’d call the consensus a broadly positive one, but with a mildly grudging undertone. Continue reading “Taking the Scenic Route”

2016 Renault Scenic Reconsidered

Yesterday we reported on the new Renault Scenic. I can see what inspired the shape of the side glass, a concept car from five years ago, the R-Space.

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That car has a suicide rear door (not unlike the Lancia Appia we had on a while back). That made the precise character of the shutline feasible: a curve over the rear wheel intersecting at a point with the curve of the side glass of the front door. The way I see the actual production car, it’s a wobbly line and when the window rubbers at the B-pillar begin to become unmoored as they always do it’ll look appalling. So, I revised it. It would be nicer for kids sittting in the back.

2016 Renault Scenic at Geneva

The minivan or MPV has been with us for three decades, defined by images of the Chrysler/Dodge minivans (1984) and Renault Espace (1984).

2016 Renault Scenic: source
2016 Renault Scenic: source

According to Renault who have been market leaders in this category, they have redefined the class. Renault have tried this before in their redesign of the current Espace which is aimed not at very large families but at executive motorists looking for something different. Though not for sale in the UK, it has been a quite successful entrant in its price class. This meant a marked increase in the styling quotient and a much less rectilinear look. Continue reading “2016 Renault Scenic at Geneva”

The 2017 Renault Megane SW Has More Chrome

It’s press release time and here I am going to regurgitate what Renault spelled out in the document they sent me today.

2017 Renault Sports Tourter: source
2017 Renault Sports Tourter: source

What can I remember from skimming the press release? I remember that the new Megane has a wider track to make it feel more solid on the road. It has the longest load bay in the class and there is brightwork on part of the edge of the sideglass. Continue reading “The 2017 Renault Megane SW Has More Chrome”

Theme: Special – Two Tone Renaults

I prefer to avoid travelling too far and too often down memory lane for these articles. However, the 1983 Renault 18 “American” special edition has lured me to briefly wander along that path.

1984 Renault 18 "American"
1984 Renault 18 “American”: wikipedia.org

As is well documented here, the 80s in Ireland passed slowly and greyley. I imagine selling cars required patience and determination as fewer people were buying, struck by the fear of unemployment or numbed by the pervasive sense of despair. Imagine trying to sell a middle-rank car of limited apparent appeal. The Renault 18 had six years under its belt by the time 1983 had rolled around.

There were three more years to go before the almost equally dreary 21 would emerge. A combination of dismal economic conditions and an ageing platform meant Renault needed to Continue reading “Theme: Special – Two Tone Renaults”

Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup

David and Goliath? This question springs to mind in this report of life with a RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup.

ultimate-swiss-army-knife1
The modern SUV. Image: thisiswhyimbroke.com

I once shared a university house with a man who studied Physics. He was tremendously good at it. As a lazy English student, I envied the clarity of his thought processes, of his ability to harness complex mathematics to make sense of the forces that shape our world. Meanwhile, I struggled to marshal the energy to make a toasted cheese sandwich. (And this despite me keeping a Breville sandwich toaster on my bedside table. And my bedside table being a mini fridge liberated from a caravan, filled with cheese and booze.) Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”

Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup

Part Two: Crunch Time. It was driving between two rows of terraced houses, windows wound down, when I first heard the noise. Graunch.

car_photo_448588
The RenaultSport Clio 200 in its natural state: immobile. For insurance purposes I would like to clarify this is not my car. Image: Evo

I could hear it when changing into third or fourth gear; sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, but consistently those two gears. Graunch. As the journey wore on, I noticed that pedestrians were occasionally turning to look for the source of the sound assaulting their ears. Crunch. Graunch. Ouch.

For some reason, the Lotus Esprit’s notoriously flaky Renault-supplied gearbox came to mind. Gingerly, lest an expensive and vital part decided to grenade itself, I piloted the Clio home. Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”

A photo for Sunday: 1983-1989 Renault 11

This is a late entry hence the night-time photography. It’s a great example of a car that when current had the appeal and visual distinction of a disposable plastic cup…

image

…but is now rarer than a Ferrari [insert name of recent model]. Thus it is now morbidly almost interesting. The reason this particular car exists is that it was imported from Spain to Denmark at some point. The “E” plate is still on the tail. The Danish ones are all iron oxide now whereas Spain’s dry climate reduces rust’s assault on cars. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1983-1989 Renault 11”

Sure-fire future classic: 2010 Renault Wind

File this under: Forgotten, tiny, open-top cars.

2010 Renault Wind
2010 Renault Wind

Many forgotten cars are forgotten because a lot of time has passed between now and the time they were made.  In the case of the Renault Wind nearly no time has passed at all. Rather than being forgotten, it was barely noticed in the first place. This correspondent has seen just one in the wild.  Let´s take a brief pause from the hurly-burly of the here and now to consider one of the Renault´s more puzzling efforts of recent years.  It seems to have been competitor for the Continue reading “Sure-fire future classic: 2010 Renault Wind”

Engineering as Marketing : 2010 Renault Megane Review

DTW tries on a little silver number from Renault.

2010 Renault Megane
2010 Renault Megane

The apparently irrelevant preamble
In all good faith, motoring writers tend to fixate on problems much as the princess fixated on the pea. For those of us interested in cars, that´s fine: we are also little picky princesses, to a man. Merely knowing that there is some small aspect of a vehicle that impedes its theoretical performance around Thruxton on a dry day is enough to earn a definitive seal of disapproval. That is even if the aspect is wholly unrelated to the intent of the vehicle in question. I´ve been guilty of this myself, as I´ve sat in a variety of cars and nit picked over all-but-invisible tool split lines on plastic trim in the boot or wondered whether that 1mm design solution under the bumper is at all acceptable on a car costing, ooh, twelve grand.  This long preamble is my way of saying this: I don´t want my previous cries of wolf to diminish the central message of this little essay. That point is: the Renault Megane is quite a noticeably bad car. Continue reading “Engineering as Marketing : 2010 Renault Megane Review”

The Truth About Cars on the Renault Espace in Brazil

This is a rather absorbing article from the good people at the Truth About Cars. It discusses the Renault Espace´s life in Brazil.

Renault Espace I 1984

“Originally conceived by Renault and its partner, Matra, the first Espace appeared in 1984 and was initially greeted with a combination of intrigue and scepticism – nothing like Espace had ever been seen before. Flying in the face of accepted wisdom, the Espace epitomised Renault’s desire to push the boundaries of conventional design and create a car which met the changing needs of a rapidly evolving society.” (Automobiles Review, 2009)

Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – 1993 Renault Twingo

Patrick Le Quement´s little wonder, the Twingo. A reference for anthropomorphic design.

1993 Renault Twingo exterior
Twenty one years later, the Renault Twingo still holds up as both a very decidedly un-threatening car and a solid bit of industrial design. Seldom are cuteness and aesthetic discipline united in such a successful way.

Continue reading “Theme : Cute Car Hall of Fame – 1993 Renault Twingo”

The Three Brothers – Part Deux

panhard24b2I’ve just spent a few days and 2,500 km driving around Eastern France. In that time, I saw two Citroën CXs, a Renault Dauphine, a Renault 12, a Simca 1100 and a Peugeot 504. And I also saw an Onze Legere Traction, but that was UK registered. Those staple cliches for the location director setting an episode of a popular UK TV series in France, the DS and the 2CV, were nowhere to be seen, save for a battered Snail sitting on the roof of a scrapyard. Of course a French person visiting the UK would notice the dearth of Morris Minors and Rover 2000s but, somehow, the homogeneity of the modern French industry is so much more depressing. Even a Peugeot 406 and a Renault 21 were almost cheering sights, being pretty Gallic compared with today’s eurocars.

Continue reading “The Three Brothers – Part Deux”

A Niche Too Far?

Sometimes it pays to be brave, sometimes it doesn’t. Better luck next time, Renault.

Initiale-ParísBy the final decade of the 20th century, motor manufacturers, having established that engineering integrity would only take them so far in the quest for market leadership, began to realise that the answer to their prayers lay within the spreadsheets and focus groups of the product planning departments. In a mature market, largely populated by feckless new money garnered from illusory internet start-ups and awash with cheap credit, the differentiator between the automotive carnivores and their prey would be defined by one word: Segmentation. Entire departments sprang up in such demographically significant hotspots as Miami, London and Southern California, all tasked with seeking that elusive niche that would give the parent company a jump on their rivals.

Continue reading “A Niche Too Far?”