Small Car Topics

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The Renault 10

The other day I was without a car and then the ‘phone rang and I was told a Renault 10 was available. I suppose because I went all through last year driving but one Renault, the larger front-drive 16, I had forgotten what a friendly little car the 1,108-c.c. Renault is. And not all that little either, although it suffers from slightly restricted accommodation because the front-wheel arches intrude into the driving compartment and there is a luggage well behind the back seat. It makes up for this by exceptionally comfortable seats, the front ones having reclining squabs as an optional extra, four doors, and a claimed luggage capacity, free from spare-wheel intimacy, of 13-1/2 cu. ft.

The quality of the interior trim is outstanding for a car of this price-class. I rate the Renault 10 a luxury small car, not because it has a simulated wood-veneer facia panel, this polished décor extending to the two back-swept spokes of the steering wheel and the tip of the gear lever, but because its suspension is quiet as well as comforting and the engine only buzzes at Motorway speeds. The instrument panel apart, the facia finish is matt black but there are reflections in the windscreen. Instrumentation is kept to a bare minimum—speedometer with total-mileage recorder, and fuel gauge. Warning lights do the rest. There is a very effective heater and big facia fresh-air vents that really do ventilate the car.

The central gear lever controls a nice all-synchromesh change and no longer dithers about to any extent. The lamps are lit by moving a tiny rotary switch on the steering wheel nacelle, and headlamps beams are selected with the l.h. stalk lever, which also flashes them on dipped beam. The Cibie lamps give a splendid light but have a sharp cut-off. The r.h. stalk lever operates turn-indicators which are rather too eager to self-cancel. A lidded and an open cubby hole and a lockable parcels tray are provided. The lavishly-equipped Renault’s only apparent concession to price-cutting is sliding back windows. These complement the child-proof door locks, however.

There are 10.2 in. disc brakes all round but they are not quite so effective as one would expect. The rack-and-pinion steering is commendable, road-holding likewise, aided by 15 in. Michelin ” X ” tyres, but the 44-1/2 b.h.p. alloy-head 5-bearing engine needs working up to 70 m.p.h. and 60 is about the usual gait on normal roads. The Gordini version would be different, no doubt! I did not manage a long-duration fuel consumption check but over a short distance 35 m.p.g. was recorded. The absolute range was a very creditable 294 miles. After 430 miles the “bent wire” indicated the need for a pint of oil. The smart Renault 10 makes a particularly pleasing town car, apart from that uncertainty about the brakes from low speeds. There are minor irritations such as sharp-edged interior door handles, low-set window-winding handles, and a fuel filler that will not take a can, but they are only small snags. The test car had a very clear Dutch-made Philips radio. It costs a modest £720 15s. 8d. with reclining front seats, and is handled here not by a marketing company or by concessionaires but by a well-organised branch of the famous Billancourt factory.—W. B.

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