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The Renault Eleven TXE Electronic

Like Ford in Europe, with its effective implications of serving those who want to purchase “transport” or “Sport”, the Regie Renault in France cannot be overlooked, as I was reminded when I tried one of her latest products, the Renault 11 TXE Electronic.

I borrowed the Electronic as my back-up car during the Veteran Car Run weekend and it proved not only a highly convenient, capacious, comfortable and economical car for such a purpose, but interesting in a number of ways — a car of character. You might say. Using the Type E2N tour’ cylinder overhead camshaft 1,721 cc 82 (DIN) bhp transverse engine driving the front wheels (of course)), there is plenty of performance for ordinary use from this very well appointed, nicely finished and notably accommodating five-door Hatchback. The Hatchback panel opens easily to disclose a large carpeted luggage space which the folding of the back seats increases. The car is of crisp shape, non-flamboyant, symbol of a good serviceable Renault.

I assume the “Electronic” label stems from the ability of the ignition-key to lock or unlock, from within or without the car, the centrally locking doors by infra-red ray instead of the key — if a gimmick, a veil’ acceptable one — and the use of a, to me, unwanted (male) voice synthesiser for emergency and other warnings, a test-panel and a multi-coloured computerised LCD fascia on which data normally conveyed by dial-and-needle are shown in electronic style, moving symbols, with the speed in large changing digits, without which I could also have done. Mercifully there is a knurled knob close to the right hand for inning this down or extinguishing it, but curiously this facility cannot be used with the lamps off… Trip and total mileages are normally recorded on the right of the fascia.

Leaving aside such modernities, the Renault 11 TXE is sensibly equipped. You get the aforesaid central-locking, electric front windows with the switches conveniently placed on the door sills, electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, map-reading light, a wind-open sunroof, sensible two-lever controls for the efficient heater (with three-speed fan) on the fasica itself, lots of different-sized stowages and a non-lockable cubby, full-width visors, and headlamps variation for load carried. A digital clock was blanked for me by the steering-wheel rim and not too easy to read anyway. Another shortcoming was that the release for the safety-belts was beneath the inner layer of the belt, confusing to find in a hurry, which cannot be right… But apart from this, the Renault 11 is a convenient and willing car. It has a good five-speed gearbox (fifth and reverse on the gate dog-legs), bottom apt to be baulky, disc / drum braking, and the expected comfortable seats and ride. The front seats, with side flares, support one closely and have tilting as well as back-rest and fore-and-aft adjustments. The ride is not so supple as to cause undue roll when cornering fast and the springing is surprisingly harsh over truly rough surfaces, while understeer is countered by a modicum of roll oversteer. The steering is very light and has reasonable castor-return.

The controls are nicely arranged, with a short lh stalk for lamps, indicators, and horn, a tiny rh stalk, easily operated by the forefinger, for wipers, with close to it knurled controls for radio selection and volume. Switches, with a nice action, for the various services, are grouped neatly above the test-panel on the right of the fascia, with those for hazard warning, door locking, and a spare switch down on the centre console. If a bit “plasticky” it is well done. After abysmal illumination on my Alfa Romeo I was delighted to find the Renault’s Cibié dual headlamps very good indeed on dip and full beams, and there are foglamps as well. There is some wind noise at speed and the engine isn’t of the quietest, yet the Renault 11 is certainly not a noisy car. It is shod with Michelin 175/70 MXL tyres on alloy wheels and has a 10.34 gallon fuel tank with lockable, flapped filler cap. When full the electronics told me I had petrol for 282 miles, equal to 27.27 mpg (but how did it know how I would be driving?), making a conventional check, average fuel thirst was 31.8 mpg and the low-level light flashed after 283 miles. A manual choke is used for starting from cold, and even so, there was slight reluctance. Under the bonnet, front-hinged and easy to open, all fillers are accessible and the no maintenance battery incorporates Renault’s useful master-switch. There is cloth upholstery and the test-car had an MCC Micro-Computer radio with roof aerial and on the console a very impressive-looking Philips Dolby System stereo with six speakers. Other extras are power steering and air-conditioning. You can have this logical electronic Renault 11 for £7,300. — W.B.

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