On January 21st a new family saloon was introduced by the giant Renault concern. It is called the R16, and is a medium-sized family saloon with a lot of simple but nevertheless clever ideas incorporated into its basic design.
The 1,470-c.c. lightweight engine is situated behind the line of the front wheels, which are driven via the forward-mounted 4-speed, all-syncromesh gearbox. The engine has a 5-bearing crankshaft and a sealed cooling system with a glass expansion tank so the water level can be observed at all times.
The suspension is fully independent, with wishbone front suspension and longitudinal torsion bars with anti-roll bar. Rear suspension is by trailing arms and transverse torsion bars. So that the two torsion bars can lay side by side the wheelbase on each side differs slightly. The rear anti-roll bar is coupled to a valve which alters the balance between front disc and rear drum brakes, depending on the load carried. The body has four doors and a full-opening boot that is hinged at the roof, the rear window being included in the boot-lid. Built into the body are louvres to let spent air out the back of the car. This gives a free flow of fresh or warmed air without having a window open. [Like Ford!—Ed.]
Another natty Renault innovation is the seven positions of the rear seats. In a matter of minutes the rear seats can be altered to improve luggage space, and take loads which are longer than the boot. As a “shooting brake” with no rear seats in at all there is 42 sq. ft. of luggage space. This adaptability will be more fully covered in the road-test which we hope will follow some-time this year.
To drive, the R16 is better than most “bread-and-butter” cars. There is enough leg-room for most drivers and the steering wheel is well placed. The gearbox is good and easy to use, but the gap between 2nd and 3rd could have been improved. The brakes are good, and difficult to fade, although they squeal when very hot.
Above-average all-round visibility and comfortable, well-shaped seats, make this a driver’s car. One fault this driver found was the understeer which was unaltered, whether on full throttle or over-run. Driven very hard, the car did 24 m.p.g., with a maximum speed of over 90 m.p.h. However, the more feather-footed or doddering you become, so the consumption improves up to about 36 m.p.g.
This should prove to be a good family car so long as the price is reasonable.—M. J. T.