Road-test report

Renault 25 V6 Injection

The sales-sector for upper-bracket executive class cars is widening and Renault have entered this field convincingly with the new low-drag fuel injection 25 V6, It is very completely equipped, with interesting control and switch-gear layouts, gaining character therefrom. For example, standard equipment embraces an adjustable steering column, alloy wheels, central door-locking (with a difference!), electrical window-lifts, a laminated windscreen, power-steering, rear seat-belts against the time when these may become compulsory, tow hooks, the front one protruding from the spoiler, an electric sunroof, tinted glass, high-grade radio / stereo sets, etc.

At first all this looks complicated, and the Renault 25’s fascia has been likened to a recording studio’s mixing desk. The subdued illumination of the many controls might well make the older enthusiast scoff that this car is a travelling pin-table . . . But it looks as if we shall have to get used to computerised panels and futuristic control layouts, and the big Renault is fortunately not over-endowed with them, the aim being to give essential controls, even for the radio, fingertip operation, which cannot be a bad thing. Looking at this in detail, the driver finds the instruments on a single clearly-read panel, the large Jaeger speedometer and tachometer reading respectively 140 mph and 7,000 rpm, the latter stroked from 5,500 rpm, red-lined from 6,000 rpm, with economy-zone from 1,200 to 3,000 rpm for those who trouble about such things. Outboard of these main dials are the smaller oil-pressure and water-temperature gauges, the former going against its stop, as on a Merced.-Benz, above engine-idle when all is well. These instruments have clever non-dazzle-lit red needles for night use, with rheostat control of illumination, but this does not work for the computer panel and clock with the lamps off.

Between the dials is the LCD fuel readout trip-computer. (On the run from Wales to the Motor Sport offices in London it read 186.7 miles at 46.5 mph (two stops) and 32.0 mpg.) Below it are the 13 warning lights, including “Stop-at-Once” and “Service Required” commands. There is also a male voice synthesiser that persuades rather than demands, and the messages from which can be repeated or killed; it could be fixed, however, saying the handbrake was on when it wasn’t but the car was coasting in neutral. The voice warns of a low fuel level, after the visual reading has cancelled out with less than two gallons remaining, but I would have preferred the computer to read to zero.

To the left of the instrument-panel a module indicates time and outside air temperature in deg. F, with the re-set and radio switches below. The switches for hazard-warning, rear fog-lamp, and hatchback panel de-misting are to the right, and lower down there is the lamp-beams height adjuster knob. The heater uses three inset knurled knobs, including that for the 4speed fan. There is quick de-misting and plenty of heat but enough cool facial air with the fan on. (Air conditioning costs an extra £770). There is a long strip-vent above the driver’s binnacle, others at the fascia extremities, all adjustable.

The steering-wheel spoke has neat buttons for the Cruise control, with fascia warning light, and on the central console is another cut-out button for it, together with door-lock switch, rear-wipe switch, (no wash), an open coins tray, lidded ash tray and lighter, and the stubby, leather-gaitered, spring-centred gear-lever, behind which is the hand-brake and a stowage area. There is a large lockable cubby (thief-proof key as for the hatchback panel), and concealed bins under the front-seat outer armrests. All three passenger doors have ash-trays, the rear ones stowage-bins, with map pockets the backs of the front-seat squabs. Before the gear-lever is set the impressive six-speaker hi-fi on the Renault-Philips Dolby System and to the left of the fascia the MCC micro-computer radio panel. Two small, taut stalk-controls look after lamps, horn and turn-indicators on the left, wipers and washer on the right, with the two radio-selectors above the latter.

The driver’s door arm rest extension contains the window switches, with a separate one for this window, and the joystick for adjusting the external mirrors. There is a swivelling roof map-lamp, the anti-dazzle vizors have intermediate settings but tended to come adrift at one end, and the fascia has a lh shelf, sensibly lipped unlike that on an Alfa 6. The tiny switches on the edges of the console, for adjusting seat and squab angle, worked well and are an excellent feature of this luxury Renault 25, as is the infra-red ignition-key that opens or locks the doors without touching them. Rear compartment occupants their own smoking companions and heater-control, a servo assists when closing the hatchback panel, and there is an electrically-locked fuel-filler flap, on some cars. This flap is on the driver’s side of the car.

It will be appreciated that with this latest 25 V6 the Regie Nationale des Usines Renault has made a convincing attempt to compete in the executive market with cars like the Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Rover, Volvo, etc. in this class, and with the Rover it has the advantage of a five-door hatchback body with folding rear-seat back, giving a luggage space of 43.7 cu ft. The Bosch JK-Jetronic fuel-injected 88×73 mm (2,664 cc) V6 all-alloy engine develops 142 (DIN) bhp at 5,500 rpm and 162 lb ft torque at 3,000 rpm, and with the low drag of 7.32 CdA, gives excellent performance from this 25½ cwt kerb-weight, 8 ft 11.2 in wheelbase car. The engine has a camshaft above each cylinder-bank and a cr of 9.2 to 1.

On the Road

This Renault 25 V6 is certainly a most significant advance on the old Renault 30, the former top-model from Billancourt. With a top speed of over 125 mph and acceleration that takes this big hatchback from to 60 mph in nine seconds, enables it to cover a ss ¼-mile in 16½ sec, and go from 50 to 70 mph in 5.4 sec, there is ample performance. Gearing is on the high side, so that 82 mph in 3rd gear, and 112 mph in 4th gear are possible and the engine likes to be kept at least above 2,000 rpm, requiring these gears to he used frequently around town. But once in 5th gear a modest 3,000 rpm suffices for just over 70 mph.

Handling and gear-change are not perhaps quite so crisp as on a BMW, control is more complex than On a Rover 3500, but this Renault is a comfortable car for long, fast journeys, and if gear-lever movements are long, both laterally and fore and aft, this is not the disadvantage it is on the Alfa Romeo GTV6, for example, and the Renault’s clutch action is normal and, with a modicum of care, smooth. There is all-round independent suspension with quite big wheel travels, but excessive roll is not apparent to the occupants under fast cornering, front-drive (from a lore-and-aft-mounted engine) promotes scarcely any real understeer, and all-round disc braking is notably effective (unlike the hand-brake), although there is no servo “fail-safe”. The steering is geared just under three turns, lock-to-lock, which feels a trifle low-geared from the leather-bound 14″-dia steering wheel, but a useful 35½ ft turning circle must be conceded, and there is gentle self-centring. The gear-change functions smoothly and quickly, reverse and fifth out on the gate’s dog-legs, the former protected by a lift-ring. The feel to the power steering is good, certainly not over-light.

The test-car was a handsome shade of blue and had fairly comfortable seats with black leather upholstery, which costs £925 extra. It contributes the luxury of hide to the cars many other executive aspects. The door trim is in two shades of cloth. The ride is comfortable, better at high speeds than low, but there is some bump-thump and the 195/60R-15 Pirelli P6 tyres not the expected Michelins — maybe there is a flicker of the EEC here?) — added to road noise, while them was some wind noise, but the Renault is acceptably quiet at fast cruising speeds, quiet enough, in fact, for a few mild rattles to be heard from the plastics of the cockpit. The wiper blades tended to graunch.

Although the Renault 25’s metier is comfort and convenience, and it at first seemed soggy, I found I could throw it around quite effectively, and I liked the unflamboyant, typically Renault, styling. The seat-belts were wide, with normal releases, unlike those on the Renault 11 TXE Electronic (see this page), and the doors have effective “keeps” in spite of their weight. Cold-starting was instantaneous. The Cibié lamps gave splendid illummation, if not, I thought, bring quite so bright as those on the Renault 1 TXE.

Under the rear-hinged, easily-opened, seIf-propping bonnet all is accessible. I did my own full-to-full fuel check, ignoring the optimistic computer, and somewhat favoured by slow driving in fog for some of the mileage, obtained 28 mpg of four-star, with an overall of 25.2 mpg. That would give a very useful total range of 366 miles. Overall, then, this is an impressive and likeable car for those who, or whose company, can afford a price of £13,400, which the leather seats and sun-roof of the test-car increased to £15,037. It is interesting that automatic-transmission does not raise the price.

If a Rover 3500 represents the thrifty executive’s Silver Spirit, this new Renault 25 V6 perhaps, with added refinement, might indicate what a future smaller Rolls-Royce could be like, were it to happen — W.B.