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New Renault Zoe EV has a 242-mile range

New Renault Zoe

Renault has revealed the facelift for its Zoe small electric car.

In the battle for EV buyers’ affections, the new 242-mile capable Zoe is a riposte to forthcoming electric versions of the Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa.

2019 Renault Zoe: styling 

New Renault Zoe

The latest Zoe is very much a facelift rather than an all-new car, on the outside at least. It’s the biggest visual change the model has undergone, but the new LED lighting and redesigned bumpers are pretty subtle.

It remains a stylish and attractive small car, with the faintest hints of styling from the super-cool Zoe e-Sport concept. A Renault Sport version of the little electric car isn’t off the table, either.

New Renault Zoe

On the inside, the new Zoe is bang-up-to-date. Along with its 100 percent recycled seat trims, it features a new 10-inch TFT instrument cluster, as well as a portrait-oriented in-car entertainment screen in line with Renault’s other models.

2019 Renault Zoe: new R135 motor

New Renault Zoe

Increased power and range comes from a new 52kWh battery and 100kw ‘R135’ electric motor, although as standard it comes with an 80kw motor. A 135hp output keeps the R135 Zoe sharp, with 0-62mph in less than 10 seconds and a top speed of 87mph.

It’ll refuel more quickly too, with optional 50kw DC charging capability.

The Zoe features a new single-pedal regenerative braking system called ‘B Mode’ – a similar system to the latest Nissan Leaf’s e-Pedal. ‘D Mode’, by contrast, is best for constant speed situations like motorway cruising.

Renault Zoe… this is your life

New Renault Zoe

Since launch in 2012, Renault has sold nearly 150,000 Zoes.

It achieved an 18.2 percent share of the European electric car market share in 2018 – and cumulative sales make it the most common electric vehicle on European roads, with 40,000 new registrations last year.

New Renault Zoe

In Germany, Spain and France, it achieved a 54.9 percent EV market share in 2018, making it number one for electric car sales in those countries.

As for the future? Renault plans on doubling Zoe production by 2022 and the marque invested a billion euros in electric vehicle development last year.

Nurburgring king: Trophy-R version of Renault Sport Megane revealed

 

Megane RS Trophy-R Nurgburgring

The new Renault Sport Megane R.S. Trophy-R has been revealed, and straight out of the blocks, it’s a Nurburgring lap record holder.

Once again, Renault has toppled the Honda Civic Type R for honours as the fastest front-wheel-drive hot hatch around the Nordschleife.

The time: a swift 7 minutes 40.1 seconds. It follows in the footsteps of past hardcore Meganes – the R26.R and Trophy R – cars that took the Nurburgring record in their day.

What makes the new Megane Trophy-R a Nurburgring champ?

Renault Megane RS Trophy-R lap record

 

The car was driven by Laurent Hurgon, the race ace who also took two previous hardcore Meganes to their respective Nurburgring lap records, with the new Meg undergoing a few changes to transform it into a Ring champ.

Three areas were addressed by the team at Renault Sport: maximum weight reduction, reworked aerodynamics and ‘a radical development of its drive axels’, including how the car is suspended and how power is distributed at the front.

Chief among changes to the new 2019 Megane R.S. Trophy-R is a significant weight reduction. All in, you can have up to 130kg lopped off the kerb weight of your Megane.

The specifics of that weight reduction aren’t yet known, but you can bet the Sabelt bucket seats, new wheels and the special Akrapovic exhaust will have played a part.

New Megane RS Trophy-R Ring record

 

Renault has also partnered with Bridgestone for the tyres on the Trophy-R. Previous ‘ultimate version’ Meganes have used Toyo R888 (2008’s R26.R) and Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R (2014’s Trophy R) rubber respectively. Both were integral to their record-breaking ‘Ring laps.

In common with the last Trophy-R, Renault has partnered with Ohlins for the car’s trick damping, while Brembo has provided the car’s upgraded braking system.

An aggressive exterior makeover, complete with improved aerodynamics – most noticeably, a large duct on the bonnet – completes the transformation. The engine is carried over from the non-R Trophy, with 300hp on tap.

When can I have a new hardcore Megane?

Fastest front-wheel-drive production car

The car will debut at the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix on 24 May and Renault says it will go on sale towards the end of 2019.

As for how many customers will be able to get their hands on one: Renault describes the car as ‘an exclusive limited edition of a few hundred units only’. Get in quick, if you want one.

Renault offers give extra savings for 2019 Monaco Grand Prix

Renault Monaco GP discounts

Order a new Renault this week and you could save up to £1,000 EXTRA off selected models. The special offers are part of a Formula One celebration event in the build up to the Monaco Grand Prix.

The discounts are available on top of existing offers and apply to both cash and finance customers. You have until 27 May, the day of the Monaco GP, to order your new Renault, and cars must be registered by 30 June 2019.

The maximum discount is available on Renault’s large SUVs, with £1,000 off the price of a Kadjar or Koleos. Meanwhile, a £500 discount is available on Clio, Zoe, Captur, Megane, Scenic and Grand Scenic models.

Highlights of the latest offers include:

Renault Koleos Iconic dCi 175 Auto X-Tronic

Renault Koles special offers

Specification: rear parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot warning, climate control, automatic tailgate, 8.7-inch colour touchscreen, Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Deal: £1,000 off and available from £189 a month.

Renault Kadjar Play TCe 140

Specification: automatic headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors, cruise control, climate control, 17-inch alloys and LED daytime running lights.

Deal: £1,000 off and available from £199 a month with a £3,000 deposit contribution.

Renault Clio Play

Specification: 16-inch alloys, DAB radio, Bluetooth, air conditioning, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors and hands-free keycard.

Deal: £500 off.

The extra discount is available on all new cars ordered between 17 and 27 May 2019 and registered by 30 June 2019. It excludes the Trafic van and Twizy quadricycle, and applies to retail customers only.

Spark of interest: used electric car price soars by 50%

Renault Zoe used car

A one-year-old Renault Zoe is worth almost 50 percent more than it was at the start of 2018, according to figures released by Cap HPI.

An eight percent rise in the month means that the popular EV is a rare example of a car appreciating in value, with Zoe values up by around £5,000. A short supply of used Zoes and an ever-increasing interest in electric cars are the primary contributors to the surprising stat.

Overall, the values of one-year-old electric cars were up 0.1 percent in March, in a market that was down 0.8 percent in the month. Only convertibles and coupe-cabriolets saw an increase, reflecting the seasonal nature of these vehicles.

The used market continued to soften in March with a fall of 0.9 percent at the three-year, 60,000-mile mark. The move follows drops in January and February and an overall decline of 2.1 percent over the first quarter of 2019, and a 3.3 percent negative swing compared to value movements in the same period a year ago.

Renault Zoe

Commenting on the data, Derren Martin, head of UK valuations at Cap HPI, said: “Despite current economic uncertainty over Brexit, price drops in the used car market cannot be apportioned to this.

“The market has seen prices going up over the last year to 18-months, and there is still a theme of a reluctance to pay high prices and squeeze retail margins. We continue to witness a gentle, downward pricing realignment.”

New or used?

New, Renault Zoe prices start from £18,420 after the government Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG), with mandatory battery hire kicking off from £69 per month. The purchase price includes a free domestic wall box fitted at your home address.

Taking a look on Auto Trader, we found a 2018 Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav with just 2,219 miles on the clock for £9,980, although £15,000 appears to be a more realistic price for a year-old Zoe.

The best performance Renaults

The greatest fast Renaults ever made

The best performance Renaults

After years in the wilderness, the Renault Megane RS is back in the hot hatch game, which is great news for performance car fans. We’ve just returned from a drive in a new Volcanic Orange Megane RS 280 with the optional Cup chassis. As its name suggests, the hottest Megane develops 280hp, putting it well below the 300hp+ hot hatches we’ve grown accustomed to. Does this matter? Here, we deliver our verdict, which is followed by our favourite performance Renaults of all time.

Renault Megane RS 280

The best performance Renaults

First things first, the perceived lack of oomph is no issue. This turbocharged Megane is as powerful as the old 2.0-litre cars and, crucially, that 280hp is harnessed to great effect by the optional Cup chassis. For £1,500, Renault will equip your Volcanic Orange or Liquid Yellow (other less lurid colours are available) car with a limited-slip differential and stiffer springs and dampers. It’s a must-have option.

The Torsen diff means that you can get the power down early as you exit the corner, while the four-wheel steering means that you can carry more speed through the bend. There’s no denying that it can take a while to get used to, but it soon becomes part of the intoxicating driving experience. It’s just a shame that the steering lacks feedback and the six-speed manual gearbox isn’t the last word in satisfaction. Still, rather that than the EDC auto transmission, eh?

Renault Megane RS 280

The best performance Renaults

The Megane RS 280 Cup feels ‘on it’ at all times, which some will love, while others might prefer the more laid-back approach of the Golf GTI. Switching from Sport or Race mode to Comfort helps things a little, but the firm ride might jar with some people, especially passengers. For what it’s worth, we love the ride, even on the pockmarked roads of the Cotswolds.

Other points to squeeze into this mini review: the seats are excellent, especially with the optional Alcantara pack, the Brembo brakes are superb and the soundtrack is fabulous, especially for a four-cylinder unit. We also happen to think the Megane RS looks terrific, falling somewhere between the sombre-suited Golf GTI and the in-yer-face Honda Civic Type R. Overall, we’re big fans of the new Megane RS, but something tells us that Renault is holding something back for the Trophy model. In the meantime, enjoy some of our favourite hot Renaults.

Renault 8 Gordini

The Renault 8 Gordini might not have been the first ‘hot’ Renault – the 4CV 1063 and the Dauphine 1093 were its forebears – but the modern crop of fast Renaults owe a great debt to this rather anonymous saloon car. First came the 1108cc of 1964, which was followed by the more powerful 1255cc in 1966, known as the Gordini 1300. Thanks to its success on the world rally stage, the R8 ‘Gorde’ laid the foundations for future performance cars from La Régie.

Renault 5 Alpine/Gordini

The Renault 5 Alpine – known as the 5 Gordini in the UK – was one of the world’s first hot hatches, which, in France at least, beat the Golf GTI to market. Powered by a twin-choke Weber carburettor 1400cc engine, the 5 Gordini could sprint to 60mph in 10.7 seconds before reaching a top speed of 110mph. A go-faster turbocharged version arrived in 1982, which paved the way for one of the greatest hot hatches of the 80s…

Renault 5 GT Turbo

The best performance Renaults

“Gordon Bennett!” proclaimed the double page press ads, as Renault took a lump hammer to the hot hatch fight. The “125mph Renault 5 GT Turbo” subhead played to the car’s key strength: outright pace. At its launch, the 5 GT Turbo was 11mph faster than a Golf GTI and 5mph quicker than a Uno Turbo or Astra GTE. A 0-60mph time of 7.5 seconds meant that, pound for pound, the £7,360 5 GT Turbo was the best value hot hatch you could buy.

Renault 5 Turbo/Turbo 2

But of course, the real hero was the homologation special Renault 5 Turbo. It was, if you like, Renault’s answer to the Lancia Stratos and it had very little in common with the regular 5 parked on your local high street. A host of unique parts made this mid-engined Group 4 rally car rather expensive to build, which led to the development of the Turbo 2, which was both cheaper to build and therefore less expensive to buy.

Renault 16 TX

The Renault 16 was a pioneer of the hatchback body, which makes the 16 TX a kind of hot hatch of the 1970s. It was based on the TS and featured a five-speed gearbox, four iodine headlights, a rear spoiler and Gordini alloy wheels. Not quick by today’s standards, but it allowed the driver to cover ground in supreme comfort: a hallmark of French cars of years gone by.

Renault 12 Gordini

The best performance Renaults

Once a familiar sight, the Renault 12 has all but disappeared from these shores. Launched in 1969, the 12 was built in a number of locations around the world and actually lived on until 2004 in the form of the Dacia 1300. In 1971, a Renault 12 Gordini set a new record between Cape Town and Algiers, covering 15,432km in just eight days. The Gordini, along with the TS, was a credible performance car of its day.

Renault 17 TS

The Renault 15 and 17 arrived in 1971 and were La Régie’s answer to the Ford Capri, launched two years earlier. Of the two, the 17 was designed to appeal to a younger audience, with the TS model the choice of the enthusiast. It used the engine from the 16 TX to give this Renault 12-based coupe genuine pace.

Renault 18 Turbo

For a car marketed as a new model, the Renault 18 was little more than a reskinned Renault 12. And in blistering 18 Turbo form, it used the same 1565cc engine found in the old Renault 16 TS, albeit with a little help from a turbocharger. The performance model was set apart from the rest of the range thanks to its distinctive alloy wheels and rubbing strip, which ran alongside the side of the car and into a boot lid spoiler. This was the first time Renault had fitted a turbocharger to a production car.

Renault Alpine GTA

The best performance Renaults

We had to wait an age for the first Alpine to be officially imported into the UK, but it was worth the wait. The GTA was the first Alpine to be launched under Renault ownership, although the two firms had a history dating back many years. Known as the Renault Alpine GTA elsewhere, in the UK it was sold as the Renault GTA, as Chrysler owned the rights to the Alpine name. First came the GTA Turbo in 1986, which was followed by the cheaper GTA V6 in 1988.

Renaultsport Clio V6

Every so often, the mad people of Renault Sport decide to smoke something a little stronger than a Gauloise and let their hair down a little. The results can be staggering, like sticking a 3.0-litre V6 engine where the rear seats and boot should be. Sadly, thanks to Brunel-levels of reengineering, the rear-engined Clio was 300kg heavier than the 172 Cup, which only served to blunt the performance of this potential supercar-slayer.

Renaultsport Clio V6 255

By tweaking the cylinder head and induction system, Renaultsport managed to squeeze an additional 25hp for the phase 2 model, creating the Clio V6 255. Sadly, the weight also increased, with the Clio V6 now tipping the scales at 1,400kg. It was also ‘blessed’ with the interior of a regular supermini, which isn’t great when you’re pitching a car against genuine sports cars. And yet, despite all of this, we can’t help but love the unhinged and ‘mad as a box of frogs’ Clio V6.

Renault 21 Turbo

The best performance Renaults

“The 21 Turbo is the best sporting saloon Renault has ever built,” proclaimed Autocar in 1988. High praise indeed for Renault’s Cossie killer. With 175hp on tap, the 21 Turbo could sprint to 60mph in just under eight seconds, before going on to reach a top speed of 137mph. And if you were struggling to harness all that power, the 21 Turbo Quadra added four-wheel drive to the mix.

Renaultsport Megane R26.R

Fans of the Renaultsport Megane take note, because we haven’t included all versions in this gallery. The fact is: there are simply too many. The R26.R is, perhaps, not only one of the best hot Renaults of all-time, but one of the best hot hatches the world has ever seen. Compromises? Sure, there were a few – no rear seats, polycarbonate side and rear windows, no climate control, to name but three – but the R26.R is as hardcore as it gets. A true modern classic.

Renaultsport Megane 230 F1 Team R26

But if you fancied a little soundproofing and the option to carry some rear seat passengers, the Renaultsport Megane 230 F1 Team R26 is arguably the next best thing. Ridiculously long name aside, the R26 was, until the arrival of the R26.R, the best hot Megane you could buy. A 230hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and a limited slip diff were just two of the highlights.

Renaultsport Twingo 133 Cup

The best performance Renaults

Good things come in small packages, as demonstrated by the Renaultsport Twingo 133 Cup, which is perhaps the closest thing a French carmaker has got to creating a modern-day Citroen AX GT. In standard form, the Renaultsport Twingo 133 was a riot, but the Cup shed 10kg of weight, doing away with the aircon in the process. Stick a can of deodorant in the glovebox.

Renaultsport Clio 172

By the time the Renaultsport Clio 172 arrived in 1999, Renault had cemented a reputation for delivering the very best hot hatches. Fortunately, the first of the hot Mk2 Clios was up for the challenge, showing the rest of the world how a hot hatch should behave. Power was sourced from a 2.0-litre 16v engine and buyers could opt for a more focused Cup trim level.

Renaultsport Clio 182 Cup

Five years after the launch of the Clio 172, Renault launched the 182, which offered more power and twin tailpipes. As before, the Cup was the choice of the purists, available to buy as a stripped-out version from the factory, or as an optional extra ‘pack’ to be applied to a more luxurious 182. While we like to think of ourselves as purists, we rather like the feeling of dry armpits, so we’d opt for a Cup with aircon, thank you.

Renaultsport Clio 182 Trophy

The best performance Renaults

If the Clio V6 was unhinged and slightly compromised, there could be no such complaints concerning the Clio 182 Trophy. In short: this was the hot Mk2 Clio at its peak. Only 550 were ever built – 500 for the UK and 50 for Switzerland – each one with trick Sachs dampers and Turini alloy wheels. A future classic with genuine investment potential.

Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup

We have fond memories of driving a Renaultsport Clio 200 at a Renault media driving day, at which we became so besotted with the hot Clio we lost track of time and were late back to the car park. We were greeted by the sight of a fully laden car transporter and a definite look of “what time do you call this” on the faces of the waiting press team. Any regrets? Only that we wished we had carried on driving until the tank was dry.

Renaultsport Megane dCi 175

History isn’t exactly littered with diesel-powered hot hatches, but the Renaultsport Megane dCi 175 was Renault’s first attempt at a performance car that appealed to both head and heart. It was good, too, looking to all intents and purposes like a petrol version, with the lack of a rear spoiler the only visual clue to its identity. It was a full second quicker from 50 to 75mph than the Renaultsport 225 and could deliver 10mpg more on a combined cycle.

Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R

The best performance Renaults

We said we’d avoid listing all variants of the most hardcore Meganes, but we simply have to make room for the 275 Trophy-R. As the spiritual successor to the R26.R, the Trophy-R did away with all but the bare essentials and scored a Nürburgring lap record in the process.

Renault Sport Spider

It should have been brilliant, but somehow the Renault Sport Spider failed to hit the mark. It didn’t help that the Spider was launched around the same time as the cheaper Lotus Elise, and we all know what an impact that had on the sports car segment. On the plus side, the Spider was powered by the 2.0-litre engine from the Clio Williams and has rarity on its side: only 96 were officially imported.

Renault 19 16v

In its day, the Renault 19 16v – available in hatchback and Chamade saloon flavours – was considered to be one of the best performance cars. And yet today, it is almost forgotten, suffering a similar fate to that of the Peugeot 309 GTi. Sure, the interior is as flimsy as a tray in a chocolate box and something electrical will throw a hissy fit at some point, but your patience will be rewarded by this forgotten gem of the 1990s.

Renault 9/11 Turbo

The best performance Renaults

If you’ll struggle to find a Renault 19 16v, you’ll find it just as tough securing a 9 or 11 Turbo. The rather conservative looking Renault 9 was an unlikely source for a performance car, but in both cases these were genuine alternatives to the more famous 5 GT Turbo. Good luck finding one.

Renault Fuego Turbo

Beneath the slippery Fuego body you’d find the floorpan and drivetrain of the Renault 18, although quite why it took La Regie so long to fit a turbocharger is anybody’s guess. The Fuego Turbo arrived in 1983 and was blessed with a pair of oh-so-80s TURBO decals. At the time, the 120mph Fuego Turbo was – homologation and handbuilt specials aside – Renault’s fastest production car.

Renault 25 V6 Turbo

Not all performance cars are focused on B-road thrills and track day spills. In fact, nobody does fast and comfortable quite like the French, as demonstrated by the Renault 25 V6 Turbo. By adding a Garrett T3 turbocharger to the Douvrin V6 engine, the flagship 25 produced 182hp and 207lb ft of torque. The top speed was 140mph, with a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds. A bit of a discrete street sleeper, this one.

Renault Clio RSi

The best performance Renaults

The phase one Clio might have lacked the Renaultsport badge, but that doesn’t mean it was lacking in poke. The Clio RSi was the junior version of the 16v and Williams, but without the wide arches and bonnet scoop, and powered by an 8v engine. It was, if you like, the entry point to the world of hot Clios.

Renault Clio 16v

The Renault Clio 16v, on the other hand, felt like the real deal. Power was sourced from the 1.8-litre 16v engine from the brilliant Renault 19 16v and, even then, the Clio handled with aplomb. All the ingredients were there for a thoroughbred hot hatch…

Renault Clio Williams

It might have lacked the badge, but Renault Sport was involved in the development of the Clio Williams. This was the real deal, powered by a 2.0-litre 16v engine and built for homologation purposes. Much to the annoyance of those who had ordered the ‘limited edition’ original, Renault decided to build the heavier and therefore less desirable Williams 2 and 3.

Renault Megane Coupe 2.0 16v

The best performance Renaults

Weirdly, you might find it easier to find a Clio Williams than you would a Renault Megane Coupe 2.0 16v. The problem being, in this form the pretty and pert Megane Coupe is powered by the same 2.0-litre engine you’d find in the ‘Willy’ and the Sport Spider. So while there were literally thousands left a decade ago, today the number has shrunk to fewer than 100, as many have been sacrificed in the name of engine transplants.

Renault Safrane Biturbo

The Renault Safrane failed to reach the heights of its forebears – Renault 25 in particular – with a lack of power one cause for complaint. The Biturbo laughed in the face of such criticism, powered by an evolution of the 3.0-litre V6 engine found in the Alpine A610, along with all-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. Sadly, this 258hp French express never made it to these shores. A shame, as the likely catastrophic depreciation would have made it a used car bargain.

Renault Laguna Coupe Monaco GP

In the case of the Renault Laguna Coupe Monaco GP, we readily admit that it’s more hot in the styling department than it is from a performance perspective. From the rear it looks like an Aston Martin, but at the front you’ll find a 2.0-litre diesel engine, which removes any thought of this being a cut-price Bond car. But four-wheel steering, rarity and stunning looks earn it a place here.

Renault Clio Maxi

The best performance Renaults

We’ve deliberately kept motorsport specials to a minimum, but we’ll make an exception for one or two heroes of stage and track. Take the Renault Clio Maxi, which was an evolution of the Clio Williams Group A rally car. For one glorious season, the Clio Maxi, complete with sequential gearbox, was a rallying hero, before it made way for the even more bonkers Megane.

Renault Alpine A610

Like its predecessor, the GTA, the Alpine A610 was once again branded as a Renault in the UK and was, until the rebirth of the Alpine brand, the final car to wear the famous badge. It failed to sell in big numbers, despite Renault slashing £5,000 off the list price in 1993, but this 160mph sports car could sit comfortably alongside a Porsche 968 and 911.

Renault Espace F1

Not to be confused with the Renault Espace your parents drove to seaside every summer, the Espace F1 was more Formula 1 car than it was MPV. It was built to celebrate the Williams-Renault team’s third consecutive Constructors’ crown and the sixth title for Renault’s V10 engine. Aptly, then, it was powered by a 3.5-litre V10 engine producing 800hp. Top speed: 194mph.

Renaultsport Twizy F1

The best performance Renaults

We drove the Renaultsport Twizy F1 in 2013. Even now, three years later, we’re still picking the stones from our teeth. The Twizy F1 was given the full Renaultsport makeover, or as much as you could squeeze into an electric quadricycle. Which means a KERS unit derived from Renault Sport’s F1 experience, Michelin slicks and a motorsport steering wheel from a Formula Renault 3.5 race car. We kept up with a Megane 265, which tells you all you need to know about this tiny car’s potential.

Renault 20 Turbo 4×4 Paris-Dakar

In 1982, Claude and Bernard Marreau emerged victorious in the gruelling Paris-Dakar Rally. Three years earlier they had raced in a Renault 4, but to win outright in ‘82 was testament to the brothers’ skill behind the wheel and the pace and reliability of the turbocharged four-wheel drive prototype.

Renault Dauphine 1093

The Renault Dauphine 1093 of 1962 was essentially a race car for the road: a rally-prepared version of the popular Dauphine family car. Larger headlights, vented wheels, two blue stripes on the body and a modified powertrain were just some of the highlights. Top speed: for its day, an impressive 87mph.

Renault Etoile Filante

The best performance Renaults

The oh-so-pretty Etoile Filante has held a land speed record since since 1956, and yet it has been all but forgotten. On the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Etoile Filante – powered by a 270hp gas turbine engine – reached an average of 306.9km/h over 1km and 308.85 over 5km, a record that still holds today.

Renault 4CV

The 4CV was Renault’s first major development after the Second World War and the rear-engined family car proved to be a commercial hit, with sales in excess of a million. It also enjoyed some sporting success, with none other than Jean Rédélé, the founder of Alpine, racing a 1063 model. This is Rédéle at the wheel of a modified 4CV while competing in the Monte Carlo Rally. Later, he would secure a class win in the Mille Miglia and overall victory in the Coupe des Alpes, the latter of which would inspire the name of his company. The rest, as they say, is history.

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2018 Renault Captur review

Renault Captur Iconic TCe 90 2018 review

2018 Renault Captur review

Depending on your point of view, the Renault Captur represents either all that is right or all that is wrong with the modern car industry.

On the one hand, it’s a compact crossover perfectly in tune with current trends and customer demands. On the other, it’s a generic and soulless box with sales driven by cheap finance and a disposable society.

Putting my cards on the table: the Renault Captur isn’t my kind of car. I haven’t bought into the crossover craze, refusing to accept the blurring of the lines. Square pegs into square holes for me – I’d prefer a compact estate car or a proper small SUV to a crossover.

However, I’m prepared to accept that I’m in the minority. The fact that tens of thousands of you are buying cars like the Renault Captur is proof that the industry is delivering what you want. And I have a habit of getting things wrong. Call me Mr Betamax or Mr MiniDisc.

Since going on sale in 2013, the Renault Captur has cemented itself as Europe’s best-selling compact crossover – or B-segment SUV, if we’re using the industry lingo – making it the top athlete in the fastest growing automotive sector.

Customers are faced with a bewildering array of alternatives, each one offering a slightly different take on a common theme. A lack of choice isn’t a problem here – the Renault Captur must be doing something right.

For the 2018 update, Renault has simplified the model line-up, offering the Captur in three trim levels: Play, Iconic and GT Line. The engine range is equally simple – a TCe 90 petrol with a five-speed manual gearbox or a dCi 90 diesel with either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Prices start from £15,350, with our Captur Iconic TCe 90 representing the range middle-ground, in terms of both cost and specification.

First impressions

New Renault Captur

It all looks so familiar. Renault may have tweaked the styling for the 2018 update, but the Captur’s styling remains predictable and generic. That’s not to say it doesn’t look suitably different to the Clio – the Captur hides its supermini roots remarkably well.

You can understand the attraction. A compact crossover delivers plenty of showroom appeal, with the jacked-up suspension and rugged appearance providing an impression of getting more for your money. If a supermini is a cheese and tomato pizza, a compact crossover is the same with a choice of extra toppings.

The grey front and rear skid plates of the GT Line (pictured throughout this review) give the Captur ideas above its station, so we’d prefer to opt for the mid-range Iconic trim – as tested here. You get 17-inch alloy wheels on the Iconic and GT Line models, although they differ in terms of design.

Inside the Renault Captur

Renault Captur interior

The familiarity continues on the inside, with the Renault Captur feeling every inch a Clio on stilts. There’s a commanding driving position that provides a good view of the road ahead, although the wide C-pillars mean the Iconic’s standard-fit parking sensors are much-needed. The reversing camera – part of the £600 Techno pack – would be a useful upgrade, too.

Once the novelty of the driving position has worn off, the Captur’s cabin offers little in the way of excitement. The sea of grey plastic is punctured only by the seat upholstery and black centre console, which does its best to mask what is a small touchscreen by modern standards.

Bizarrely, the infotainment system is tilted ever so slightly towards the passenger, and although Android Auto connectivity was added as part of the 2018 makeover, Apple CarPlay remains off-limits to Captur owners.

The Captur scores well for space and practicality, with the cabin feeling light and airy. Space up front is good, while rear-seat passengers will appreciate the amount of head and legroom. Only the middle seat passenger will feel a little hard done by, finding little space for their feet.

There are plenty of storage bins and compartments, including a large pocket in front of the gearstick, decent door pockets, two cup-holders, a coin holder and a deep box on the top of the dashboard. Only the small glovebox lets the side down.

New Renault Captur boot space

With 455 litres of boot space – extending to 1,235 litres with the rear seats folded down – the Captur has the edge over superminis and some family hatchbacks. A Renault Clio can only muster 300 litres in five-seat mode, while the Megane offers just 384 litres. Even the most ardent of crossover critics would be impressed by the practicality.

That’s not to say that the Captur isn’t beginning to show its age. The dashboard feels dated in terms of design and layout, while the quality of the fit and finish might be acceptable on the Play and Iconic models, but not the more expensive GT Line trim.

Again, it’s for this reason that we’d recommend the mid-spec Iconic trim level.

Renault Captur: on the road

Renault Captur driving

On the road, the Renault Captur behaves like you’d expect a lofty Clio to act. The upright stance and raised ride height combine to deliver plenty of lean when cornering, while the steering is vague and inconsistently weighted, making it difficult to position the car on the road.

The five-speed gearbox is similarly imprecise, making the driving experience about as rewarding as a prize-less scratchcard. Throw into the mix a large amount of road noise and a tendency to crash over potholes, and you begin to wonder why Renault sells so many of these things.

The answer: most people don’t care. While you might look for direct steering, roll-free cornering and off-the-line pace, Captur owners are more concerned with space, a place to charge their smartphone and economy.

Which is where the TCe 90 three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine comes in. It offers claimed NEDC fuel economy of 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 122g/km, but the performance of a much larger petrol engine.

The 0-62mph time is mostly an irrelevance in a compact crossover, but it feels livelier than 13.1 seconds would suggest. It’s an enthusiastic performer, let down only by a momentary spot of turbo lag and a tendency to run out of puff when you’re pressing on. However, for darting around town and frantic school runs, it’s just the ticket.

Verdict: 3 stars

Renault Captur verdict

This is the precisely the kind of car your non-car friends and family will flock to in their droves. Stick £239 on the credit card for the deposit and spend the next four years paying Renault the same figure for the privilege of having Renault’s car on the drive.

To a Captur owner, the fact that Renault owns the car for the duration of the PCP contract is of no consequence. This is not a car to fall in love with or form an emotional attachment. Buy it, use it, hand it back. Think no more of it.

It’s OK to look at, OK to drive and OK to live with. It’s also Europe’s best selling compact crossover, which tells you all you need to know about the segment. OK?

Five 2018 Renault Captur rivals

  • Citroen C4 Cactus
  • Peugeot 2008
  • Nissan Juke
  • Vauxhall Crossland X
  • Seat Arona

How much did our test car cost?

  • Renault Captur Iconic TCe 90: £17,780

Which engines does Renault offer with the Captur in 2018?

  • 90hp petrol (TCe 90)
  • 90hp diesel (dCi 90)

Where the Renault Captur Iconic TCe 90 sits in the model range

  • Play
  • Iconic
  • GT Line

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Renault EZ ULTIMO

Renault wants to “re-invent life on board” with the EZ-Ultimo robot car

Renault EZ ULTIMO

Renault has unveiled its latest vision for future mobility: the EZ-Ultimo concept. The star of Renault’s stand at the 2018 Paris Motor Show, it’s described by the company as a “premium and shared robo-vehicle”. In reality, that makes it something like an autonomous first-class train carriage for the road.

What is the Renault EZ-Ultimo?

Renault says it wants to “re-invent life on board”, turning the car into a place for work, rest, play or relaxation. Anything we might do at home or the office should be possible on the move. We’re already getting others to do the driving for us, reckons the company, with the rise of lift-hailing apps and services.

Renault EZ ULTIMO

“As consumer trends change and people are enjoying ride-hailing services more and more, a new paradigm for mobility will emerge,” said Laurens van den Acker, SVP of corporate design at Renault.

The EZ Ultimo is the next logical step. It sounds very similar to Volvo’s vision of an autonomous pod, the 360c concept, which was pitched as a threat to the short-haul airline industry.

Funky French styling

Similar in ethos to the 360c, the EZ-Ultimo is also similar in silhouette. It’s very much a carriage rather than a traditional car, but futuristic wheels, angular flourishes and artistic lighting liven up the design. While the Volvo’s clean-cut Scandinavian lines are appealing, the Renault enjoys flashes of French flair.

“Inspired by contemporary architecture, and completely integrated in future smart cities, EZ-Ultimo will provide an exclusive experience for all. With autonomous, electric and connected cars, we are entering a new exciting era in automotive design,” says Renault.

A luxurious office on wheels

When the doors slide to one side, you get your first view of the cabin. It shares more with the living space of a modern apartment than a car. It’s high-class, too, utilising wood, leather and even marble for a “relaxing and enjoyable drive”.

By comparison with the Volvo, it does seem less versatile. There’s no bed for cross-continental overnight hauls, for example. Instead, you have office-style seating and workspaces. That, together with its new Augmented Editorial Experience (AEX), is how Renault aims to “re-invent travel time”.

AEX is what Renault calls a “realist immersive experience which combines personal premium content, multi-media experiences and mobility”. We take that to mean big screens for working and watching on the go.

Renault EZ ULTIMO

Overall, the EZ-Ultimo is a curious take on a future we’re still uneasy about. Nevertheless, such new types of car are giving designers freedoms many before couldn’t have dreamed about, and yielding interesting results.

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Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

The best car features owners didn’t know they had

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [Cabrio dash]

A survey of 2,000 UK motorists by Citnow has uncovered the 10 best-loved features owners found in their cars.

These range from interior ‘easter eggs’ that surprise and delight, to genuinely useful features that we’re surprised aren’t seen more widely.

Let’s look at the list…

Volkswagen Golf GTI: golf ball gearknob

Volkswagen Golf GTI Golf Ball Gear Shift

‘GTI’ is one of the most prestigious names in hot hatchery and by extension, one of the most revered badges on the road. Today, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the perfect double act of genuine class-beating competency and fun throwbacks to GTIs of old. One example of the latter is the golf ball on the gearknob, which heads the list of best-loved features .

Volkswagen Beetle: flower vase

Volkswagen Beetle Vase [from above]

If you thought the golf ball shifter was a fun trinket, the Volkswagen Beetle and its dashboard vase will appeal. The ‘New Beetle’, when it arrived in 1997, aimed to distil the cultural phenomenon of the original in a contemporary package. Yes, even down to some flower power… Motoring meets botany, resulting in perhaps the weirdest feature of any car from the last 20 years. It makes number two on the list.

Vauxhall Corsa: Flexfix integrated bike rack

Vauxhall FlexFix Bike Rack

The Beetle’s vase can be best described as a gimmick that’s most useful when you’re without a place to store your pens. The Flexfix slide-out bike rack on the Corsa (available as far back as 2000) is of rather more use to more people. Clever packaging makes it third on the best-loved list.

Skoda: integrated umbrella

Skoda Superb Umbrella

This one, especially for Brits, is a no-brainer, and somthing you’ll find in both a Rolls-Royce and a Skoda Superb. The door-stored umbrella has to be a godsend whenever you park up in wet weather. The challenge is remembering that it’s tucked away there.

Mini: ambient lighting

MINI Ambient Lighting

In the coolness stakes, this is close to the top. Ambient lighting has proliferated throughout the car market, but the playful implementation in the Mini is rated one of the best-loved features by buyers.

Honda: Magic Seats

Honda Magic Seats

Heading the list of practical but not necessarily cool quirks are Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’. These flip-up rear seats, which create a floor-to-ceiling storage space, debuted on the Jazz in the early 2000s and eventually made their way onto the Civic. Unlike a lot of what’s on this list, they are a genuinely useful feature if your Jazz or Civic is thus equipped!

Mini Convertible: Openometer

MINI Openometer

Aaaaaand… we’re back to the gimmicks. It doesn’t get much sillier than the Mini Convetible’s ‘Openometer’. This gauge records the amount of time you have spent travelling with the roof down. At least you can say with the utmost certainty how much sunshine you’ve got, before deciding whether to buy another drop-top.

Nissan: curry hook

Nissan Curry Hook

As unknown features go, this is about as middle-of-the-road as they get. How many cars do you know of with a hook specifically for takeaways? Er, none? Well, there is one. From 1996, the Nissan Almera came equipped with this feature, which you can now find in the boots of many new cars.

Renault Modus: Boot Chute

Renault Modus Boot Chute

This is a feature that was absolutely infamous at the time, mostly among journalists. The boot chute is one of those great ideas that simply didn’t catch on (the name surely didn’t help, although this was, remember, the company that also gave us the Renault Wind).

Too close to a car or a wall behind you? Need to load shopping? No problem! The lower part of the tailgate opened to create a ‘Boot Chute’. It provided excellent access for luggage in confined spaces. Bring it back, Renault!

DS 3: perfume dispenser

DS 3 Perfume Dispenser

The last item on the list is the DS 3’s perfume dispenser. Of course, it’s not actually exclusive to the DS. Many cars are now getting integrated fragrances, but it remains a laughable hidden feature.

Or is it? Plenty of us fit our own air fresheners, so why should a built-in one seem weird? Regardless, it rounds off the top 10 hidden features that buyers love.

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Renault 4

Renault 4 GTL review: charming, versatile and very French

Renault 4

A car that could take the family on holiday, be driven as a work vehicle and wouldn’t cost a fortune to run. That was the idea behind the Renault 4 when it was launched in 1961. Production lasted until 1992, but they’re still commonplace in rural areas of France. Just like a Citroen 2CV, a French holiday isn’t complete without catching sight of a well-worn Renault 4.

This immaculate example is a Renault 4 GTL. Part of the manufacturer’s massive heritage collection, it was first registered in 1980 and has led an easy life since then. As a GTL, this R4 is powered by the same watercooled 1,108cc engine as the Renault 6 TL and Estafette van. It can be identified as a GTL by its grey grille, bumpers and plastic cladding running along the bottom of its doors.

What’s it like to drive?

The 4 was the Renault’s first front-wheel-drive car (although the technology had previously been introduced with the Estafette), with a focus on economy and practicality over performance or driver engagement.

It’s surprising, then, just how much fun the Renault 4 is to drive. The gearstick protrudes from the dash in an unconventional manner, not dissimilar to the seventh-generation Honda Civic. This is out of necessity more than anything – it links to a rod that runs over the top of the engine before dropping down to the gearbox at the front of the car.

While it seems bizarre at first, it’s a really sweet gearbox to use. By this stage in Renault 4 production, it had a four-speed ’box with synchromesh on all ratios. Finding gears is easy, once you’re used to the strange position of the lever, and the change feels wonderfully precise.

Although it’s not quick (it boasts just 34hp and a top speed of 75mph), it’s sprightly enough. The ride quality – a hallmark of old, French cars -– allows you to keep pace over potholes, while the brakes are adequate, if a little worrying if you’ve just jumped out of a modern car.

Things can get a trifle concerning in corners, too, where it nudges near-2CV levels of lean, while light steering means you’re not entirely convinced it’ll make it around without running out of road. Perhaps that’s why R4s are such a common sight in French fields.

Tell me about buying one

Renault 4

Although you might see plenty of Renault 4s in daily use in France, they’re a little harder to find here in the UK – especially in good condition. We’d favour a later model, like the one we’ve driven here, simply for its extra power and four-speed synchromesh gearbox.

Prices depend on condition more than age or anything else. While you’ll pay more than you once would, they’re not extortionately expensive (or indeed as pricey as the Citroen 2CV). Expect to pay up to around £5,000 for a tidy, usable example.

As with many old cars we review, rust is the biggest concern. It’s particularly prominent around the rear suspension mountings, so inspect carefully. If it’s been repaired (and it probably has at some point), satisfy yourself that it’s been done properly rather than a quick patch to get it through an MOT.

Another rust-spot to watch out for is inside the rear doors, while all four corners of the floorpan can also rot (but repairs are relatively affordable). Panels also rust, but replacements are available from Renault.

Mechanically, Renault 4s are pretty robust, while the interior is equally hard-wearing. Get one that’s structurally solid and anything else can be fixed fairly cheaply.

Verdict

Renault 4

In some ways, the Renault 4 is a bargain of the classic car world. Utterly charming to drive, it’s incredible that you can buy such an iconic vehicle for less than £5,000. Just imagine what a Mini of a similar vintage would cost. And they’re an awful lot more common, certainly here in the UK.

Although we’d be reluctant to drive an R4 every day – and it’s certainly not the choice for long motorway journeys – it’s perfectly pleasant to pootle around in, while the interior is functional and endearing if not luxurious.

Buying a good one will take a little time, but you haven’t missed the boat. Running one shouldn’t break the bank either, unless you get one with a chassis that resembles a colander.

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In pictures: inside Renault’s incredible classic car collection

In pictures: Renault’s incredible classic car collection

In pictures: inside Renault’s incredible classic car collection

French car manufacturer Renault is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. The firm – which is headquartered in Paris – has quite the heritage to celebrate, which explains why it has no fewer than 750 classic cars in its collection.

While the cars are dotted around France, a purpose-built garage has recently opened at its Flins factory to house a small part of the collection. Open only to members of staff, we were allowed inside for a sneak peek as part of the brand’s anniversary celebrations.

Renault Type A

Renault Type A

The story goes that Renault was founded on Christmas Eve 1898, when aspiring engineer Louis Renault drove his first car, a Type A voiturette, up the incredibly steep Rue Lepic in Paris. The assembled audience was so impressed that 12 deposits were received, giving the 21-year-old the funds to acquire a factory.

Renault Type B

Renault Type B

Many of Louis Renault’s early customers were friends and family, so he was keen to listen to any feedback and demands they had. The main thing buyers wanted that the Type A didn’t satisfy was comfort. Working with coachbuilder Labourdette, Renault designed a closed body that appeared on the Type B in 1899.

Renault six-wheel type MH

Renault six-wheel type MH

When you think of expedition by motor car, a Land Rover might spring to mind. But the French were doing it years before the British. In 1923, Renault revealed the Six-Roues – a powerful truck with six wheels and low-pressure tyres, along with two-axle drive to provide off-road capability. A number of expeditions followed, including numerous trips across the Sahara.

Renault Primaquatre

Renault Primaquatre

In the wake of the Great Depression, manufacturers were looking at building cheaper cars that were within reach of normal men and women. Louis Renault was adamant that this wasn’t the right approach and, during a time before the middle class emerged, Renault continued to build high-quality cars for affluent families. The Primaquatre of 1937 was a four-seat family car, 3.7 metres long and capable of 105km/h (65mph). It had a start price of 19,500 francs.

Renault 4CV

Renault 4CV

In contrast to Louis Renault’s beliefs that the firm should concentrate on premium cars for affluent motorists, the firm quietly worked on an affordable small car during the Second World War. The 4CV, as it went on to be named, was France’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle. More than one million were produced before it was replaced by the Renault 4 in 1961.

Renault Colorale

Renault Colorale

Think 4×4 pickups are a relatively recent thing? Think again. In 1946, Renault began considering a ‘station wagon for the countryside’. The result was the Colorale range, with a number of utilitarian and family versions introduced between 1950 and 1951. They were fairly old-fashioned from a technical point of view, with a truck-like chassis and a tractor engine.

Renault Caravelle/Floride

Renault Caravelle/Floride

Based on the Renault Dauphine (we’ll come onto that in a minute), the Caravelle was also known as the Floride. That’s because the idea was initially conceived by US dealers at a convention held in Florida, who said a coupe/cabriolet model would improve the brand’s image in the States. However, Renault was concerned that naming it after a US state would exclude buyers elsewhere, hence the Caravelle name.

Renault Estafette

Renault Estafette

Introduced in 1959, the Estafette was a genuinely clever van. Front-wheel-drive (a first for Renault), it featured a flat floor and a short turning circle, as well as sliding doors, making it the perfect workhorse for French tradesmen. Production lasted until 1980, by which time more than 533,000 Estafettes had been produced.

Renault Dauphine

Renault Dauphine

As a successor to the Renault 4CV, the Dauphine continued to rebel against Louis Renault’s wish to target the affluent classes. A rear-engined rival to the likes of the Volkswagen Beetle and Morris Minor, the Dauphine was a hit the second it was revealed at the 1955 Paris Motor Show. More than two million were sold during its 11-year lifespan.

Renault 4

Renault 4

The Renault 4 was more than simply a replacement for the 4CV. It’s a symbol of France in the early 1960s. A rural exodus was happening, seeing people shift from the countryside to new suburbs being developed on the edge of urban areas. As such, Renault decided to launch ‘the ultimate versatile automobile’. Capable of serving as a workhorse during the week, the Renault 4 could also double up as a family car at weekends.

Renault 8 Gordini

Renault 8 Gordini

Although by the 60s Renault primarily catered for people wanting affordable transport, there was still an enthusiastic audience captivated by the likes of the 4CV used in the Monte Carlo Rally. In 1964, Renault brought out the Renault 8 Gordini, with the standard car’s 50hp engine replaced by a 95hp 1,100cc unit. The firm intended to build just 1,000 cars, but 11,600 customers parted with money for the Gordini – despite a price tag close to double that of the standard car.

Renault 16

Renault 16

The world’s first production hatchback, the Renault 16 was launched in 1965 as a bigger, upmarket alternative to the Renault 4. Halfway between a saloon and an estate, buyers and journalists struggled to get their head around this new bodystyle at first, but it soon became a huge success. More than 1.8 million were sold worldwide during its 15 year production run. This example in Renault’s collection was destined for the US, where the 16 was sold in tiny numbers.

Renault 5

Renault 5

Launched in 1972, the Renault 5 was unashamedly a car designed for women. It featured a curvy shape, just two doors (allowing children to stay safe in the back without the threat of them opening a door) and an easy-to-lift hatchback making it convenient for supermarket shopping. Oh, and plastic bumpers were used for the first time, providing protection from minor impacts.

Renault 12

Renault 12

Simple, inexpensive and unbreakable. That was the brief for the Renault 12, revealed at the 1969 Paris Motor Show. Developed with international sales in mind, the 12 would take Renault to new markets, with much of its testing carried out in Brazil. It went on to find a following in Romania, where it was built under licence by the Dacia brand, and Turkey. It was a commercial success, with 2.5 million sold internationally.

Renault 14

Renault 14

Renault’s trademark had become the hatchback since the R16, but it didn’t offer a mid-range hatch. The Renault 14 was introduced in 1976 following a clever advertising campaign that caused it to be known as the ‘pear-shaped’ car. It was the first Renault to be powered by a transversely-mounted powertrain, allowing a roomier cabin and increased luggage space.

Renault Espace

Renault Espace

Renault had been pushing a ‘car for living’ philosophy with its series of practical cars designed with families in mind – including the Renault 4, 16, 6 and 5. With the launch of its Espace people carrier, it pushed the idea further still, with a revolutionary new vehicle designed by Matra. Although sales were slow to begin with (just nine were sold in its first month on sale), families were soon tempted by the versatility offered by the world’s first MPV.

Renault Twingo

Renault Twingo

Described by Renault as having an exterior design that evokes a ‘small, friendly animal’ combined with the interior of a ‘mini passenger van’, the Twingo was launched in 1993 as a quirky yet affordable and practical city car. Initially available with just one trim level and a choice of four colours, “it’s up to you to invent the life that goes with it,” said its launch slogan.

Renault Scenic

Renault Scenic

Having gained experience with its larger Espace people carrier, Renault set about launching a car for the late-20th-century family. Following on with the ‘car for living’ philosophy, the Scenic featured a sliding rear seat that could be used as a table, tilting rear side seats, tray tables for passengers and even a bottle rack. The Scenic was so impressive when it was launched in 1996 that it went on to win the 1997 European Car of the Year award.

Renault Avantime

Renault Avantime

Renault’s never been afraid of taking risks, and in 1999 it launched a bizarre hybrid of coupe and people carrier. The Avantime ‘embodied the leisure car of the new millenium,’ says Renault, with large windows, an all-glass sunroof and a minimalist centre console. Although reception was generally good, it sold in tiny numbers and production was dropped after just two years on sale.

See more pictures of Renault’s amazing classic car collection:

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