From 1972 to 1984 the VW sold the Passat with the option of a 5-door as well as 2-door and five doors. Today it’s only sold as a saloon and estate. The Citroen XM came as a five-door hatchback and as a fabulously useful estate. Its predecessors and successors could only be had as saloons or estates.
All generations of the Seat Toledo, barring one have been hatchbacks. For 1999, the second generation Toledo astounded the world with its saloon format (except in Britain where it was a hatchback**). By 2004 the status quo ante resumed and remains so.
In the 1970s quite a few manufacturers experimented with the 5-door format but reverted by the early 80s. We know this. Don’t write in. That isn’t quite the focus of interest today. Underneath my saloon-to-hatch-to-saloon inquiry lies the vague idea that someone out there thinks one format is superior, some of the time. Is that true?
The other day we were talking about the Renault 16 which led us to the Renault 21 which…
…led me to look for one for sale. Finding one I noticed the unhappy design of the nose cone, the plastic mask around the headlamp and containing the upper grille aperture. Here (below) are some other cars which demonstrate an attempt at rethinking the way the front fascia was handled. One of them really works – the Ford Sierra is utterly industrial design. And have you noticed the Dacia Duster uses the same concept but eschews the body-colour for the lamp panel? In fact the elegance of the concept is hidden by the Duster’s other fussy details.
I have done this theme before, I think – the new bit is the Renault 21 (the facelifted version). Interestingly (if you are like me), you’ll notice a difference between the Ford, Citroen and VW trio versus the R21. What is it?
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.
My mobile telephone acts like a visual notebook thanks to its lousy camera. Here are some notes.
Apart from its capacity to capture images, my telephone isn’t better than my actual notebook (a Silvine spiral bound item). The photos turn out like Kodak prints – brown and flat. I hate them. What I’d like is a fast, very small printer capable of producing colour-fast images on self-adhesive paper (5×4 cm) so I could Continue reading “Notebook”
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 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”
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”
Now that Renault’s Scenic has got a buff new body, will everybody want one?
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”
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.
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.
The minivan or MPV has been with us for three decades, defined by images of the Chrysler/Dodge minivans (1984) and Renault Espace (1984).
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”
It’s press release time and here I am going to regurgitate what Renault spelled out in the document they sent me today.
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”
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.
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.
David and Goliath? This question springs to mind in this report of life with a RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup.
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”
Part Two: Crunch Time.It was driving between two rows of terraced houses, windows wound down, when I first heard the noise. Graunch.
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.
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…
…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”
If you want to know how low perceptions of the French car industry have sunk, try telling people that you have bought a Renault Clio. Reactions vary between pity and incredulousness. “ARE YOU MAD?” people shout, grabbing you by the lapels. “WHY DID YOU DO IT?” they scream into your upturned, spittle-flecked face, shaking you roughly in the hope of reawakening some neglected sense of self preservation. Suddenly you are not the well adjusted and vaguely handsome man they thought you were. Clearly for all this time you have been a self-hater or a masochist. Or worse, a socialist. Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”
We remember Renault’s 5GTL, an interesting take on an economy car.
The 1973 oil crisis hit the motor industry hard. Fuel consumption had always been a selling point, but now it became a crucial one, especially in France where petrol was highly taxed. The traditional French economy car had the smallest engine possible, The 2CV started with 425cc, working up to 602cc. Renault’s answer to the 2CV was the 4, which carried over the small capacity, four cylinder Ventoux engine from the rear engined 4CV. When the first ‘supermini’, the Renault 5, was introduced, beneath the skin it was much the same as the 4, with the base engine having just 782cc. Continue reading “Theme : Economy – More Is Less”
Having a chance to sit inside a Renault Vel Satis allowed me to check out two things.
When Car magazine reviewed the Renault Vel Satis I remember being disappointed in their judgement. Stephen Bayley said it was not ugly enough and Anthony ffrench-Constant spent much of the article’s text talking about tropical parasites*. The part I remember is that ffrench-Constant criticised the rear compartment for the lack of room for feet under the front seats. Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2005 Renault Vel Satis”
Time and again I come across quite rare cars being sold with blinding ineptitude. Here’s one photo the job of which is to convince someone to part with €4691.
The dealer has revealed the car has driven 120,00 miles but nothing else at all. So, you’ll need to ring them to find out more. It looks to be in good condition but who knows if the photo is old or new and from this distance there might be some nasty surprises waiting. There are even worse examples of dealer carelessness. The Renault 25 might be rare but it is not a thoroughbred.
“The new Megane is an integral part of Renault’s design strategy renewal,” says Renault styling supremo Laurens Van Der Acker.
He goes on to say “Its dynamic lines project both sensuality and status, while its assertive proportions provide it with a well-planted stance on the road and its sculpted forms and strong shoulders hint at the brand’s Latin roots. It features a distinctive lighting signature both front and rear, by day as well as by night, in its elegant interior exudes an unmistakeable cockpit feel.” Thanks, Laurens. It’s just dark. And very 2009.
What does he mean by design strategy renewal? Any guesses?
Thank you Renault for showing in public your new C-D class competitor in estate guise.
Renault sent me an e-mail about this. The estate, they said, was making its public debut at Frankfurt. The press release’s first point was “sleek style mated to huge practicality.” Also, seven other points related to safety, load space, ride and handling and a launch date in the first half of 2016. 54% of sales are taken by estate models, say Renault. Is it really only half? Some cars, you would think exist only as estates: Peugeot 407 and indeed the Talisman’s luckless predecessor, the Laguna. Continue reading “2016 Renault Talisman Re-Revealed”
As the new Megane bows in, it’s time to take a look back at how things were done in 1995 when the first of the line began prowling the highways.
Aged well, hasn’t it? It’s very much a 1990’s car and at the same time wears its period style lightly. The modellers did a good job putting nuances on the metal around the middle bump strips and notice the subtle way the sill is curved upwards, with little flares at either end. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1995-2002 Renault Megane”
Renault have not one but two design studios in India. What is the result?
One of way of looking at it is that you get a competitive and competent looking vehicle. As a raised-height hatchback it is what Indian customers want: “This is because the project was both Indian as well as French. Most of the data collection, however, was done from here, on the ground. It had to be. Renault was keen on an immersive experience for its design team. It wanted the design staff to be drowning in the local culture and local tastes, and there was a special emphasis on what Indian customers disliked too. This is how they discovered what Indian customers really meant when they said they wanted more car for their money.” Continue reading “Into the Magimix Goes National Style”
Renault’s designers had the idea to endow the new Espace with an electrically actuated glove box.
At the back there are three separate seats and therefore no central armrest. The centre seat folds down – is a picnic table what his excellency expects? I really hoped the Espace would be more lounge-like. I feel like the Cadillac fans yearning for a 1990 Coupe de Ville to brought back in a new form.
In November 2000 the first print articles on the Renault Laguna Mk2 started to appear. What did they say?
Renault’s approach was to “take the car upmarket” by improving the fit and finish of the interior (everyone was thinking ‘Passat B5’ at this time). Patrick Le Quement said of the car that combined Germanic rigour in its treatment and Latin flavour. Looking back, it’s hard to see how the Laguna Mk 1 lacked any rigour as the design still holds up for the quality of its detailing inside and out. With the Mk2 they flattened the surfaces and reduced the curvature of the main forms, lending the car a more chiselled, planar look. Where did the flair reside? Continue reading “Looking Back: 2001 Renault Laguna”
Renault’s 2016 Talisman revealed. It’s a sober and serious saloon. It’s the anti-Laguna.
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.
These days the general understanding of hybrid is a vehicle with a dual power source. A Chevrolet Spark is one example. I’d rather work my way back to Pandas.
The current interpretation of hybrid overshadows other interpretations. There has in recent decades been a temptation for manufacturers to take a bit of one idea and a bit of another to make a third one. How the recipe is blended is where the interest lies. If you take a 4-wheel drive, off-road vehicle and make it more civilised you end up with a Range Rover. If you aren’t very good with adding the civilisation part you get a G-wagon or Jeep Grand Cherokee. Continue reading “Theme : Hybrids – Ruminations”
A micropost on the reverberations of certain design themes across decades and between brands and a reflection on their meaning.
One of our readers has asked for further clarification on the meaning of the “CX line” with respect to the 2008 Renault Laguna. The first photo shows the 1976 Citroen CX, designed by Robert Opron. The second photo shows a Series 1 Renault Laguna from 2009. The CX line is partially obscured by the cut-out of the headlamps and, of course, is set within a more complex environment than the corresponding line on the 1976 car.