Motor Sport, speaking strictly or strictly speaking, should be above, or beyond, or indifferent to, or in other ways, ignore economy cars. But what with petrol being taxed at 2s. 6d. a gallon and the untaxed part getting so much better of late that it costs more than ever, small-engined cars cannot be ignored.
So although we reported fairly extensively on a used baby Renault not long ago, we couldn’t turn down Renault’s kind offer to loan a more recent British-built 750-c.c. saloon for extensive trial.
This car had winding front windows and better suspension than the earlier versions. It served admirably over an appreciable throttle-wide mileage, of which every minute almost was jolly good fun. This because, in spite of only three forward speeds and an engine capacity of 3/4 of a litre, this little four-door, four-seater saloon, driven intelligently, can show up far bigger cars in traffic and because round corners it handles so very well. The rear-engine location promotes only mild oversteer and the steering, low-geared without appearing to be so, is entirely taut and free from unpleasant return motion. There are some pleasingly clever details, like the interior lamp whose switch can be set to “light” when the doors open, a lamp in the engine compartment, the under-bonnet fuel-filler which is thus rendered thief-proof by locking the “bonnet,” etc.
The interior is spartan and fortunately we carried no luggage, for there was nowhere to put it. The ignition key is rather awkwardly located against the steering column, brake and clutch pedals are rather small, and a steering wheel direction-indicator switch would be preferred to the facia-sill location. But we liked the blue anti-dazzle vizors, neat little gear-lever, floor-located levers for choke and starter. We liked even more the Renault’s appetite for mile upon mile full-collar work, its ability to start surely and at once when thickly-coated with frost, its comfortable flat ride and its 45 m.p.g. Water and Mobiloil Arctic did not require topping up, either.
There were body rattles and squeaks, plenty of engine noise, some nice judgment needed (and not always realised) in quickly getting bottom cog from second, the headlamp beam was lousy and the car never got warm. (The engine was probably running cool but use of the radiator blind made it boil). The low roof and thick screen pillars somewhat spoil the forward view. But the brakes are excellent, the steering lock most useful and the little car such practical transport, which is both economical and highly satisfactory to drive, that we rate this Renault 750 very highly indeed. We found the back bumper entirely adequate for fending off a clot in a Rolls-Bentley when he rammed us in a London traffic block — an important aspect of a rear-engined car. Renault, Fiat, Morris Minor — they are all excellent motor-cars. The new Austin Seven has so far eluded us but is promised for test during March. The report will appear in the May issue.—W. B.