Road Impressions

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Big Renault

The Assistant Editor dealt very thoroughly with the executive-Renault, the V6 30TS, when it was a comparatively new car (Motor Sport, February 1976), after sampling it at the pre-view and driving a P-registration car in this country. I have recently been enjoying an R-registered version and while there is no need to enlarge on C.R.’s findings, there are a few thoughts to record. For those potential customers who first re-read his road-test, let me say that it was a printing error that described this as a four-wheel-drive car – it is a front-drive, 2,644-c.c. overhead camshaft, all-disc-brake job and there has been some development of the car since C.R. tried one over a year ago.

I like most Renaults and this big V6 is a very fine machine, in the Billancourt tradition of comfortable seating, very versatile and accommodating load-carrying, and good bad-road springing. I would describe it as a car of much individuality in its specification and detail arrangements but rather characterless in its manner of going. The 30TS is very quiet, except for tyre thump and very faint wind noise, coupled to curious whistling sounds that intrude curiously at times as speed rises, a phenomenon seemingly promoted by the proximity of other vehicles. It is a very comfortable car. It is easy to drive, with good power-steering asking just over three turns lock-to-lock, an indifferent gear change and slightly over-servoed, but powerful braking. It is impressive without being over-large, handsome without any ostentation, and very, very roomy indeed. Driving off in it after a tiring day, into the bustle and dazzle of night-time London, I was captivated.

Later, while great respect for this 30TS remained, I was slightly less enamoured. It is something of a soggy-barge, without encompassing the excessive cornering roll of lesser Renaults. There was a tendency for it to jump out of third gear with a thud when you were accelerating hard, and a hurried getaway in bottom gear produced front-wheel spin, that defeated even the notable gripping-power of XAS Michelins. The tachometer is now marked with a warning band commencing at 5,600 r.p.m. and the switch-gear seems to have been revised somewhat. To C.R.’s criticism of the lamps and wipers arrangements I would add the the I.h. stalk controlling the wipers is so close to the ignition-key and so light to the touch that every time I started or stopped the engine the wipers began to work. They are wired independently of the ignition circuit, which I approve of, and so is the steering-spoke-operated horn; but not the radio, while if the electrically-operated front windows happen to be open after the engine has been stopped it is necessary to switch on again to close them this is a common failing, but I seem to remember that Mercedes-Benz do it better. The wipers now have 2-speed and intermittent action but leaves a bad wet-patch on the o/s. The four doors not only have electro-magnetic central locking but the key prods easily into the locking hole, which is invaluable in dark places – I almost decided that I wanted a Renault 30 on the strength of this very convenient door-locking; but it does not apply to the tail-gate, which needs the key again to open it and to lock it.

The bonnet, front-hinged, light, and self-supporting, has a good release, located under the steering column surround, the dip-stick is instantly accessible from the o/s, the front-seat squabs are lever-adjusted, and there is a spacious, lockable drop-bin before the front-seat passenger. A Renault RE 606 radio-cum-cassette-player was fitted, and items such as comprehensive heating and ventilation with simple illuminated controls, rheostat-dimming of the lighting for the recessed instruments, a map-light on the n/s, headlamps adjustable for rear-seat weight, and a well-placed, recessed central hand-brake were appreciated. Instrumentation includes a 140-m.p.h. Jaeger speedometer, 8,000-r.p.m. tachometer, vague fuel gauge, thermometer, battery-motor and a transistor clock.

On the open road this V6 Renault sails along superbly, and some initial hesitancy in pulling died away after the engine was warmed through.

It is a car for covering long distances fast, in dignity, but not exactly in a sporting fashion. I did not have it long enough to assess fuel thirst, but 22-24 m.p.g. seems about the average, using high-grade fuel (and Elf oil!).

I was just thinking that it might be fun to have a French car for Editorial travel, although I was startled to discover that the price of the 30TS has risen from the £3,952, which C.R. thought expensive at the time of our original road-test, to £5,198, when the MD settled it for me by saying that I was to have a Rover 3500. Ah well, two extra British cylinders sound nice. But many people shopping in this price-group should find the Big Renault their sort of car; especially French businessmen with long Autoroute journeys on the agenda. – W.B.