As part of Groupe Renault, Dacia has carved out a distinctive niche as a manufacturer of competent if unexceptional budget vehicles. Today we examine how this strategy has evolved over the past twenty years.
In 1997 Renault Chairman and CEO Louis Schweitzer visited Russia to gain an understanding of the market and Renault’s prospects there. To his surprise, he established that the ancient Fiat 124-based Lada was market leader despite its antiquity. The prime reason for this was its bargain price, equivalent to US $6,000 when the cheapest Renault sold in Russia cost twice that.
Flying back to France, Schweitzer set down the requirements for the design of a basic but not minimal modern car which could be sold profitably worldwide at the Lada’s price of $6,000 (€5,000). His brief, written on an airline napkin, stated the basic tenets in three words: modern, reliable, affordable, with the codicil that “everything else is negotiable.”
Long serving Renault R&D manager Gérard Detourbet, was given the task of developing a car to meet Schweitzer’s brief. Led by Detourbet, engineering teams in France and Romania would first Continue reading “Against all Odds (Part Two)”
Before it became part of Groupe Renault, Dacia survived enormous political, social and economic upheavals to remain in business for over thirty years. Today we look back at its remarkable history.
Although subsumed into the vast political monolith of the Soviet Union following the Second World War, the countries that were signatories to the Warsaw Pact tried to maintain at least a veneer of independence from their Soviet masters. In the vanguard of resistance was Romania. Nicholae Ceaușescu, who became the country’s leader in 1965, refused to participate in and openly criticised the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Ceaușescu’s independence of mind initially won him widespread support at home and he leveraged this to Continue reading “Against all Odds (Part One)”
A Laguna Coupé ought to be both a rare and welcome sighting. But it doesn’t do to look too closely.
The Renault Laguna, especially in its third and final iteration was a popular car in Ireland. Not popular in Passat or Avensis terms, but sold in quite respectable numbers nonetheless, notwithstanding Irish motorists’ long-standing distrust of the larger offerings from our esteemed French neighbours.
This was all the more surprising really, given the frightful reputation its immediate predecessor earned over its lifespan – riddled as it was by electronic gremlins which cost the carmaker dear, both in market share and in warranty costs. But then, Renault’s Irish importers were (perhaps through grim necessity) somewhat generous when it came to sales incentives. Continue reading “Sighting and Seeing”
The image you see here is taken from a 1982 brochure prepared by Publicis Conseil (Renault’s long-standing communications and advertising agency) for Ireland’s then distributor, Smiths Distributors LTD, who also assembled Renault 4s in Co Wexford for the Irish market. More a pamphlet than a brochure, it nevertheless provided a well-produced and reasonably comprehensive overview of what the nationalised French carmaker had to Continue reading “Photo For Sunday : La Gamme Complète”
The Spanish word for fire, the Renault Fuego was somewhat unusual in 1980 in that it was in receipt of a name rather than a numeral. The nationalised French carmaker’s numerical system, which had been in place since the ’60s was already showing signs of unravelling, but would take almost another decade before being abandoned with debut of the Clio in 1990. This made the Fuego something of an outlier in the range, a status the car maintains to this day.
The Renault 9 was considered blandness personified. But not all the design proposals were.
Occasionally, when one is presented with a rejected concept for a well-known car design, one experiences a frisson of regret, a sharp sense of opportunity missed. More often however, one is reminded of the essential rightness of the production concept chosen. But once in a while, one finds oneself staring in disbelief, wondering what were they thinking? But let’s not Continue reading “Over the Rainbow”
In 1976, Renault introduced the 5 GTL, a version of France’s best seller which was intended to appeal to more economy-conscious customers. Powered by a detuned version of the 5 TS’ 1289 cc engine, it was a low-revving, relatively unstressed power unit, aimed at reducing fuel consumption – in a rudimentary manner perhaps, predating BMW’s more elaborate attempts at achieving a similar goal with their ETA engine programme the following decade.
Novels such as ‘Vice Versa’ and ‘Freaky Friday’ have inspired a long list of films about body swapping, but in the rare cases the automobile industry has resorted to the practice, it hasn’t exactly resulted in any award-winning performances.
Since the Ayatollahs assumed power, Iran’s relationship with Western nations has been complicated. This has not stopped the country from developing a thriving automobile industry however – after oil and gas it is the third in economic importance – and to achieve licensing deals with a number of major car manufacturers such as Peugeot, Citroën, Renault, Nissan, KIA, Chevrolet and Cadillac. In some cases, this has lead to results that can only be described as bizarre. Continue reading “The Persian Bodyswappers”
A chic city car concept from Renault: Denied again.
For mainstream European carmakers, despite the diminutive profit margins they typically engender, small cars have always been big business. But finding a recipe that is equally acceptable to pan-European palates is no minor matter. The ongoing mission to come up with the required blend of practicality, utility, style and indulgence at a price that would attract the urbanite and rural dweller alike might just be the toughest gig in car design. Continue reading “Metropolitian Glide”
Peculiar and of dubious aesthetic merit though its products are, DS Automobiles’ output at least possesses one commendable trait.
It’s rather easy to ridicule DS Automobiles. After all, it’s yet another car brand created in vitro, whose main claim to fame is a name that references one of the greatest creations in automotive history, without paying any respects to it whatsoever.
Casting aside this truly overbearing issue though, paying some attention to the brand’s design proves to be rather more worthwhile than a first glance would suggest. Of course, DS’ range of cars has so far mostly set itself apart through a sheer overabundance of stylistic tropes, many of which are rather less than inspiring (shark fin b-pillars, double badges). However, amid all the cacophonous excess, there are some interesting details to be found. Continue reading “Pardon The French”
The proud, if patchy tradition of the French grand tourisme didn’t quite end with the Citroën SM.
The French relationship to automotive luxury is similar to how Germans deal with fine food. Just as those stemming from east of the river Rhine tend to be more willing to spend a fortune on engine lubricants, rather than extra virgin olive oil, their more occidental counterparts usually gain more pleasure from visiting a fine auberge on a regular basis than a car showroom or garage. How he or she gets to said auberge is a secondary concern, too.
Yet, just as there are Germans who care deeply about fine food (Fritz Eichbauer being a particularly striking example of this), the French aren’t totally immune to the charms of decadent motoring either, as the erstwhile success of proud names like Bugatti or Facel proved. It was only some time after the war, and due in large part to stringent domestic luxury taxation, that the French GT found itself on the wane. Continue reading “Le roi est mort, vive le roi!”
Analysts Bernstein Research rediscover a lost art, but in doing so have they shifted the paradigm?
Something unprecedented has happened. It’s probably too early to tell whether it will prove to be an isolated occurrence or a sign of a wider shift in the manner in which the industry operates, but the implications could well prove to be far-reaching.
Max Warburton, the senior automotive analyst from Wall Street financial analytics firm, Sandford C Bernstein, and leading soothsayer on matters pertaining to the motor business wrote an open letter last week to Renault Chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, suggesting he Continue reading “Mr. Warburton Writes a Letter”
Now the fine powdered debris has settled, I thought I’d gather up some third party opinions on the mooted Renault/FCA merger.
I’ve decided to amalgamate three sources of information. They are the Financial Times, the New York Times and Autocar. My own view is that the merger is a re-run of the value-incinerating union of Chrysler and Mercedes twenty years ago. But what do the other commentators say if Renault and Fiat Continue reading “Romping Home Into Eighth Place”
Without wanting to drag Brexit into this**, I have to note that Larry Elliot at the Guardian is now visibly wrong about another big thing, the Renault-FCA merger (if it is even a realistic prospect). For your information, Elliot has been at the very least tolerant of the lunacy of Brexit. Now he is suggesting that the mooted, hinted, suggested alliance of FCA and Fiat is even worth considering.
The core of his recent article is that “Frosty relations between France’s Macron and Italy’s Salvini could scupper talks over £29bn merger”. It sounds so knowledgeable but Franco-Italian relations are 800 km beside the point.
Second, it’s not 1976 any more, a time when national leaders could push around large corporations as de Gaulle did with Fiat and Citroen. But the problem is so much more fundamental: the idea of FCA linking to Renault is as insane as suggesting someone should consider marrying a syphilitic zombie. In this instance Renault-Nissan is the “someone” and FCA is the “syphilitic zombie”. While Renault has had its downs and up, the F in FCA has been only able to Continue reading ““To The Detriment of His Supreme Imperial Majesty – Hurragh!””
Renault has made a name for itself as a monovolume specialist. This must change.
Recently, we highlighted Ford’s retreat from the Euro-minivan sector, amid a rapidly contracting market for such vehicles and FoMoCo’s own fiscal woes across the region. However, the blue oval is far from alone in viewing this segment with jaundiced eyes, with news breaking more recently that owing both to falling sales and the advent of the newer and more crossover-ish C5 Aircross CUV to the market, Citroen is ceasing production of the short bodied SpaceTourer (aka Picasso).
Having previously declared the compact MPV sector for Renault’s Scenic, further study however reveals that the real 2018 winner was in fact the VW Group, who arguably had the good sense to Continue reading “Fade Away and Radiate”
“Renault Revised!” was the headline in what might have been a period review of the R14 by veteran motor writer, Archie Vicar.
This article may have first appeared in Motoring & Driving, December 1979. The original photos were by Dooulgas Land-Windermere (sic) but due to fouling with the filing cabinet, stock photos have been used.
Ah, Renault, perpetually playing second fiddle to Ford, Peugeot, Opel and Austin in the dull-but-worthy stakes. Or second fiddle to Citroen and Alfa Romeo in the odd-but-strange stakes. Renault, somewhere in the middle of it all, with beret, Camembert and Gitanes ever at the ready but never sure whether it is a European firm or just a French one.
As affairs go, it was short-lived. We bid adieu to the Twingo – from these shores at least.
Barely pausing for breath following the announcement of a mid-life revision to their entry-level Twingo, Renault subsequently announced that the refreshed model will henceforth be withdrawn from these islands. Citing the intention to simplify their offer, a Renault spokesperson told Autocar this week that the carmaker will refocus upon a new range of models and drivetrains over the coming year as part of Renault’s Drive The Future plan, which will include a new iteration of the top-selling Clio model.
But for all of its unquestionable sales success, it’s probably fair to say that the B-sector Clio has not truly entered the emotional consciousness of the buying public. A thoroughly competent and attractive proposition by all accounts, but a car which has evolved in such a manner that it is neither as compact, nimble, nor sufficiently easy to Continue reading “Such a Little Tear”
Of a little more substance than the photo earlier we have a Renault commercial van. Driven To Rrite is almost beside itself with pleasure to have a chance show this fine specimen, from about 1984-1991.
They named it Express for the N. European market; for German-speaking nations they badged it as the Rapid. The UK and Ireland knew it as the Renault Extra. Whatever you call it, it’s a bit of a treasure, like Opel’s Combi but smaller – the 1986 Combo “A” was Kadett-based and then Opel decided to Continue reading “Into The Silences Like Mists Do Thoughts Of Her Flow”
This looks very much like an authentic period review of the 1976 Renault 5 GTL by revered motoring writer Archie Vicar.
The text first appeared under the headline “Another New Renault” in The Amman Valley Chronicle and East Carmarthen News, June 5, 1976. The original photographs were by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to the effects of xylophagic fungi, the original images could not be used.
Renault, Renault, Renault. This firm does try hard and is to be commended for its efforts to keep up with trends sooner or later. That means they are once again on the “hatchback” bandwagon, or staying on the bandwagon in the case of the 5 tested here today. The 5 appeared on the market in 1972 and the firm is sticking with the formula of front-drive and a hinged opening panel on the rear of the car in place of a proper separate boot.
Extremely recently I noticed a Renault Grand Scenic. It’s a big and imposing car. So is the Espace. Is there any real difference between them apart from the price tag and the Espace’s motorized glove drawer?
We have had 23 years to come to terms with the Mk1 Renault Megane. That much is easy to state. What’s harder to express is why this design’s strangeness didn’t come across until recently.
When I say strange, I don’t mean bad strange. I mean good strange, the oddness of the original and the idiosyncratic. The q-word doesn’t apply here though because this is not like an Ami or Multipla. It doesn’t jump out at you so much as whispers.
It’s not every day we get our hands on a best-seller. A recent trip to the Loire however, garnered DTW a Renault Clio. What did we make of it?
It’s close to half past seven in the evening as the TGV eases into la Gare de Tours, terminating its one hour and eighteen minute journey from Paris-Montparnasse. The station, a grand edifice dating from 1898, and a designated monument historique, feels as though it’s winding down for the evening, as indeed does the historic city of Tours itself.
The Avis car rental office certainly has, the Chef de Gare being called upon to process our documentation and release our pre-booked hire car. It has been a diverting past time during the train journey to Continue reading “Le Tour de Tours”
We carry on our saunter down memory avenue with this look back to the champions of the summer of 1998. Where were you then?
I don’t want to talk about it. It was the second worst time of my life. Times weren’t good at Mercedes either. The A-Class had been moosed and that took some of the attention from its revolutionary cheapening of the Mercedes name and its quite hideous styling.
I seldom like to visibly intervene in the daily activities of DTW since I find such matters rather unbecoming. Furthermore, the hostility from various embittered car clubs (step forward the Albanian Morris Minor Club) is often too much for me to bear. However, now that the annual exodus of Driven to Write’s editorial staff is upon us, I find myself once more cast into a role I find distasteful.
We ought to rename this site Le DTW. After yesterday’s Peugeot review we now have a whole slew of early 90s French cars under the spotlight.
In 1991 L’Automobile ran an article assessing the comparative strengths of the main three French brands, Renault, Citroën and Peugeot. It was a huge group test: 24 cars. The magazine passed judgement on the main classes and in this article I will pass judgement on the 1991 verdict. Were L’Automobile’s assessments in line with mine? Or indeed yours? Continue reading “Anticipation Creeps Headstrong Towards Us”
Recently I failed to challenge the DTW readership with a “mystery car“. I might has well have taken a photo of the car’s badge you guessed it so soon: Renault 16. What’s so good about them?
Normally one must track a 16 down at a car show or find one for sale if you want to view an example. Seeing such a car by chance is an event and one I didn’t have much time to savour, alas. These photos (above) got into my iPhone in under three minutes, something of a pity as the car merits careful examination – three minutes is just not enough.
On the surface, Renault’s 1983 Gabbiano was simply an innocuous concept, but could it also stand as a metaphor for a decades-spanning rivalry?
Following former head of Citroën bureau d’études, Robert Opron’s move across Paris to head Renault’s styling studios in 1975, design responsibility appeared to remain an in-house arrangement. However over time, a decision was taken either by senior management or by Opron himself to Continue reading “Word on a Wing”
Advance apologies to the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France and their eagle-eyed cohorts regarding the title header.
Earlier in the year I spoke at some length about Renault’s Mégane Grand Coupé offering, a car which is not only unavailable in drear old Blighty, but also (somewhat surprisingly) within Renault’s homeland. Introduced to the Irish market earlier this year, the Mégane sedan (sorry, but it’s neither grand nor a coupe) appears to have taken off here, with my highly unscientific visual survey suggesting Continue reading “Mégane à Trois Volumes”
This is a peculiar one. There is a very large cubby inside which are two cupholders. One of them can hold an ash-cup.
Much about the 2002 Espace impresses, especially in the top Initiale trim. The interior is coated in leather with contrasting stitching. It creates an air of luxury that is not flouncy or over-wrought. Renault went to a fair amount of trouble to make use of the dashboard volume. Not one but two large glove boxes lurk under the dashtop. The main masses and details hang together very well indeed too. The same goes for the back seats as well. One can see that Renault put on their thinking caps when trying to provide an alternative to the big, family saloon. Yet the car is only 4.6 metres long. Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2002-2014 Renault Espace”
This pleasantly painted Twingo caught my eye in Flensburg.
I had a longer look at the interior which had very playful use of colour. The door handles and window winders were highlighted in yellow. Buttons on the dashboard used the same plastic. The doors had body-coloured paint visible with the door cards inset and made of robust plastic. They made the most of economy, it seems. The design is very contemporary for 1993, the year of the launch. This kind of modernism is in short supply today. Continue reading “The Rush and the Rush and the Stop”
Philippe Charbonneaux is known for this work on the Renault 8, the Renault 21 and the Renault 16. In 1984 he teamed up with Franco Sbarro to produce a proposal for a Renault 25-based limousine.
Charbonneaux showed the car at the 1984 Paris automobile salon. Sbarro fabricated the showcar while Charbo (hereafter) conceived the theme – an antimodern limousine. If the actual Renault 25 is a study in French design rationalism, the limousine version seems to be a study in undoing most of that concept.
Very clearly the work of one person’s vision, Michel Boué, the Renault 5 impresses with the clarity of its concept. This example shows how it could be more than a basic conveyance.
In this instance we have here a really tidy, timewarp example with very little sign of tear or wear. We’ll get to the interior in a moment, with its comfortable sports seats and very inviting ambience.
We look at two proud Frenchmen who were really quite similar and so very different.
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 Continue reading “Theme : Rivals – The Light and The Dark”
Deluded though the Brochure often is, what lies behind it can be equally deluded, albeit differently so.
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”
Renault’s latest Megane Saloon is grand all right, but a coupé? We investigate.
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?”
There’s nothing terribly exciting about this class of ’86 Renault, but does that mean there’s nothing to say?
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”
Ostensibly I am writing about the Megane. Really I am concerned with something else.
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”
We are very proud of our focus on this aspect of car design: ashtrays.
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”
Just two Renault 30s remain in Denmark. Here is the driver’s ashtray of one of them, another DTW world exclusive.
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”
This is the poor man’s GTX. It had a 1.3 litre four cylinder engine producing 55 hp.
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”
DTW discovers how to jump the queue at your friendly Renault dealer.
“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.
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.
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”
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.
The 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.
A free-wheeling act of random charity leaves our correspondent flummoxed.
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.
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.
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”