The Renault 30 TS Expensive but technically worthy

The Renault 30 TS

Expensive but technically worthy

ON APRIL 25 of this year a most significant Renault went on sale in its native France, offering more of everything than any modern Renault, confirming that the French factory intend to continue offering highly individual machinery throughout their range. Because of recent strikes, they have them even at the often-praised Regie example of state and industrial co-operation, it seems unlikely that the British will be able to buy the car at least until a month or so after it makes its GB debut at Earls Conn in October. Later versions of the V6 Renault-Peugeot-Volvo co-operatively engined 30 series will feature lower standard

equipment (which is truly outstanding in the 30 TS) but it will be some time before anyone will be able to buy a 30 that costs less than the present French cost of E3,500.

Within 14 ft. 10 in. overall length, Engineering Director Yves St. George's 3,500 strong Renault Engineering Centre have packed a multitude (if features to distinguish the car from the similarly powered but front engine, rear-drive, V6 Peugeots and Volvos. Other obvious competitors are from BMW (520), Ford (Granada), Opel (Commodore), Citroen (CX 2200), BL (18-22), the anticipated new Rover-Triumph and the appropriate Mercedes. Outstanding production equipment includes the advanced alloy V6 engine of 2664 c.c.,

driving the front wheels via new manual 4speed or, equally fresh 3-speed automatic as an option. Power assistance for steering and brakes, electric front windows, 4-wheel disc braking, quadruple quartz iodine headlamps, steel sunroof, electro-magnetic door locks (with central locking), inertia reel seat belts, laminated windscreen and all-round tinted glass; all these items are offered as part of a car that has all the marks of solid, careful engineering. Hopefully 30 TS owners will feel the benefits of this massive equipment list for a very long time, for the oversquare (88 mm. 73 mm.) 90 deg. V6 is restricted to a leisurely 131 b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m., though factory spokesmen confirmed that the unit could give 180 horsepower in comfort. Maximum torque amounts to 148.3 lb. ft. For comparison the iron Ford V6 of 3 litres delivers 140 h.h.p. at 5,300 r.p.m. and 175 lb. ft. of torque on 3,000 r.p.m. Both 30 TS and Granada have kerb

weights around the 2,900 lb. mark.

Chain-driven overhead camshafts, something of a rarity in this increasingly rubber tooth belt era, are mounted singly on each cylinder block. V-formation for the two valves reSting in each of the 8.65:1 compression ratio combustion chambers, has contributed to the unusual cleanliness claimed for the 30's exhaust. Unique in the writer's experience is the adoption of one single choke and a single twin choke carburetter. Supplied by Solex the single 34 mm. PBITA choke is augmented by the twin choke when earnest acceleration and consequent engine vacuum activate the larger 35CEEL instrument. A single plate diaphragm clutch of 9.25 in. diameter is encased in weight-saving alumi

nium, as is the gearbox. The manual transmission cars, which we drove, operate a 3.89 : 1 ratio (19.87 m.p.h./1,000 r.p.m.) in conjunction with 175 Michelin XAS radial tyres (for the French test car) on 14 in. wheels.

The 30 TS continues the suspension and interior principles that make the 16 series such comfortable and flexible "drawing room on wheel" transport, right down to remarkable 7-position seating. The independent suspension utilises two wishbones (single upper, double lower) at the front with roll and ride aids from a single 0.88-in, front roll bar and forward anti-dive link from, the upper arm, which also supports the single coil spring/ hydraulic dampers. At the rear the shock absorbers mount in their own separate turrets, and the springs in the Singular wishbone arms. The twin arms are restrained from violent camber changes by the in. rear roll bar and twin trailing links. The result is a fantastic ride for French conditions, but likely to be over-soft for Britain.

All the cars suffered from embarrassing brake squeal at the French launch, but there were heartfelt assurances that this will be cured before sales commence on home ground. Despite the noise, provision of 9.92 in. front ventilated disc brakes, and slightly bigger 10 in. units at the rear, was proved worthwhile by the accurate and fade-free-stopping enjoyed during the hilly section of the test.

Another highly appreciated feature was magnificent power steering that is coupled to stupendously comfortable seating. "Our" manual 30 TS used a 3.5 lock-to-lock steering ratio, whereas automatics offer a quicker 3.25 turns.

Information in front of the driver is given by four dials, including a 220 k.p.h. speedometer, 8,000 r.p.m. tachometer and a three-segment gauge to relay water temperature, voltmeter and fuel contents. The tank holds 14f galls. of 4 star which the author managed to use at the rate of 18.3 m.p.g. in testing, though a more representative figure would be 20-24 rn.p:g. Finally matching dial contains warning lights to warn of imminent disasters.

Overall, the 30 TS appealed to the writer as an honest vehicle that provides superb touring comfort, wafting along in standards of silence that leave Rolls-Royce little option but to make sure their cars produce an interior noise level akin to a locked tomb. Performance is not the best feature, but a kind of long-legged 4,0005,000 r.p.m. (80-100 m.p.h.) is nicely within the car's capabilities. There's very little left from over 100 m.p.h. to the claimed 115 m.p.h. maximum. The manual change is good, but the car's character would probably be better served by an automatic for most Britons. The alloy V6 engine does its work with a quiet hum. It supplies plenty of smoothly delivered torque from 1,500 to 5,500 r.p.m.: we did not eKceed 6,000 r.p.m., for the engine is charmingly unstressed in mechanical effort below 5,500 revolutions. For my taste this gentleman's carriage is spoiled only by a screen-mounted stick-on mirror and body lean that could be enough to upset children brought up on the cart-sprung machinery that some of our manufacturers offer. If the new Rover is even better, Solihull will have done very well indeed. In

the meantime the six cylinder 18-22 Wolseley should provide an acceptable and substantially cheaper, alternative.—J.W.