Refresher course on the Renault Fuego

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A good deal of information has been given in Motor Sport about the Renault Fuego since its introduction, and the more sporting 18 Turbo might be thought of more appeal of our readers. However, the top-model GTX 2-litre of the Fuego range is a good car it its own right, quiet, comfortable, economical and an effective performer, able to out-drag the Turbo job from 0-60 m.p.h. and go a m.p.h. or no faster, while being a little more conserving of the expensive fuel. Indeed, only at certain bands in the torque-curve does the Turbocharger give the 18 a slight accelerative advantage. So there is a great deal to be said for the Fuego GTX, with its Type 829 Douvrin-built 1,995 c.c. overhead-camshaft light-alloy engine giving 110 (DIN) b.h.p. at a restful 5,500 r.p.m., and 119.9 lb. / ft. torque us only 3,000 r.p.m.

Getting into it after a tiring week-end with a more sporting car, the Renault seemed at once spacious, relaxing and easy to drive. The exterior shape suggests a much smaller car than the two-door front-drive Hatchback Fuego is within, and the styling, done by Robert Opron and his 100 helpers over four years ago, is suggestive of good air penetration, giving the lowest air-drag of any Renault, at a competitive 0.374 co-efficient. The fuel-gauge sank encouragingly slowly, but its needle swung too readily between empty and 1/4-full. The consumption was 27.2 m.p.g., from the 12 1/2-gallon tank.

The dog-leg-gated 5-speed gearbox has a smooth but sedate change, with reverse, over to the far left, irritatingly difficult to engage easily unless one is firm with it. This is a car in which you look out of a big windscreen, its bonnet only becoming visible up abnormally steep hills. It has the generous-cushioned seats and the fairly-supple suspension expected of a modern Renault, electric windows with arm-rest-mounted switches, rear wipe-wash and headlamp washers but lacks central-locking. The huge back window is released by a lever on the driver’s door pillar. The power-assisted steering (2 5/8 turns, lock-to-lock) is light but lacks much “feel”. The disc / drum brakes are more than normally powerful. The test-car was shod with Pirelli P6 tyres and only under very slippery conditions was I conscious of spinning front wheels when departing quickly. The interior trim is plasticky and the big instrument binnacle before the driver rather comes into the Rover category of obtrusiveness. However, all the instruments are easy to read, with the proviso that the oil-gauge records oil keel not pressure, and the switches for the various services flank each side of the binnacle. There are triple stalk-controls, of which the short r.h. one operates the turn-indicators. The driver’s door mirror adjusts internally, there is a bright digital clock, rather deeply buried, and it took me time to learn to drive the many-knobbed heater / ventilator properly. The rear seat folding arrangements mean enormous luggage capacity. There is a too-shallow shelf formed into the fascia. There is an under-fascia his and door pockets hidden under the large arm-rests; the external door catches are oddly recessed in what are called “sculptured recesses”, and the small pedals with rubber inserts can become disconcertingly slippery. The Cibie lighting equipment includes low-hung yellow fog-lamps. The driver’s sun-visor contains a mirror, ridiculous from the viewpoint of reflection (ugly in my cue!).

Acceleration comes in very effectively when needed and is impressive even in 5th gear. It really seems to amount to whether you go for a Fuego GTX or save £750 by buying the slightly-less-quick 18 Turbo, the Fuego GTX costing £7,430 in basic form. I would have liked the sun-roof and leather upholstery (but £577 extra for the latter!) that are extras. But it had seemed nice to drive a Renault again so soon after this make had won the Italian GP, it would have been nicer still had the car been at Western Avenue on the day arranged for collection. However, we were united in the end and the Fuego was found to be an admirable 113 m.p.h. (Renault claims 118 m.p.h.), 0-60 in 10 sec., family-package and is thus an important model in Renault’s wide and well-established spread. – W.B.

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