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Renault F1

Renault buys Lotus F1 Team

Renault F1Renault has given loyal Formula 1 workers in Enstone, Oxfordshire the best possible Christmas present by confirming it has completed the purchase of the Lotus F1 Team.

After signing a letter of intent to buy the team in September, a lengthy period of negotiations ensued.

BBC Formula 1 free TV contract switches to Channel 4 for 2016

This was completed on 3 December; since then, says Renault,  “all parties involved have been working relentlessly to comply with all of the contractual and legal obligations under the agreements to enable the transaction to successfully complete”.

Last Friday, the transaction was indeed successfully completed – and the team is confident its 2016 racer will be ready for testing in Barcelona at the end of February.

Just prior to this first testing session, Renault F1 will announce its new team name, management structure, team partners and other key details during an event it plans to hold in Paris.

Renault’s already appointed a new board of directors though: Jérôme Stoll as Chairman and Cyril Abiteboul as Managing Director.

The news means the Enstone team will once again be known as Renault – after the French brand sold its F1 team to Genii Capital in 2009 and headline sponsor Group Lotus renamed the team in 2012.

Genii remains a shareholder in the team; Group Lotus terminated its title sponsorship arrangement in 2011 but the team retained the Lotus F1 Team name.

Renault Megane

Renault Megane review: 2016 first drive

Six months before it goes on sale, we’re among the first to drive the 2016 Renault MeganeRenault Megane

Overview

A decade ago, the second-generation Megane was ‘shaking that ass’ while shaking up the sales charts. Since then, Renault’s mid-sized hatchback has gone from one of Europe’s best-selling cars to an also-ran, dogged by bland styling, a low-rent interior and a poor reputation for reliability.

The fourth-generation Megane you see here won’t actually reach UK showrooms until June 2016, but we bagged an early drive at the international launch in Portugal. One thing is for certain: it may not have a bustle-shaped boot, but Renault has ditched the dull design. Has the Megane finally got its groove back?

If the new Megane looks striking in photos, it’s even more so in the metal. Longer, wider and lower than the car it replaces, it looks sleek and sporty – even in standard non-GT spec. Huge front and rear lights – both with distinctive LED ‘signatures’ – add a pleasingly premium touch, too.

Renault will longer sell three-door ‘Coupe’ or CC cabriolet versions of the Megane, citing insufficient demand (apparently many buyers have migrated to crossovers). So the range is five-door-hatchback-only at launch, with an estate version following in the autumn.

Inside, the Megane’s big selling point is a huge, portrait-oriented touchscreen. It’s not quite a budget Tesla, but you get the idea. ‘Virtual’ TFT instuments can be configured to the driver’s personal taste, while available safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and self-parking. The Megane has already scored a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.

Engines for the UK are yet to be confirmed. However, the petrol line-up is likely to start with the 100hp 1.2 TCe, then 115hp 1.2 SCe (non-turbocharged), 130hp 1.2 TCe and a 205hp 1.6 TCe – the latter in the range-topping GT. Diesels will probably kick off with the 90hp 1.5 dCi, then 110hp 1.5 dCi, 130hp 1.6 dCi and 165hp 1.6 dCi.

Most Meganes will come with a six-speed manual gearbox (five speeds on the 115hp petrol). Renault’s semi-automatic ‘flappy paddle’ EDC ’box is offered on the 130hp petrol and 110hp diesel – and standard with the most powerful engines of each fuel-type.

Frustratingly, Renault won’t confirm prices until closer to the car’s on-sale date either. However, we expect the car to be closely competitive with the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, which means a start-price of around £15,500.

Renault Megane

On the road

We start our test-drives in the Renaultsport GT,  the flagship ‘warm hatch’ until the hot Megane RS arrives – probably in 2017.

This is the first time Renaultsport has lent its well-respected name to anything other than a full-fat hot hatch and there is a strong risk of diluting the brand. To help avert that risk, the GT has specially tuned suspension and – uniquely in this class – rear-wheel steering.

This ‘4Control’ system turns the rear wheels slightly in the opposite direction to the fronts to sharpen up the handling. Its effect is immediately noticeable on the road; in tight bends, the GT almost seems to pivot around its axis, catapulting you out of corners with impressive ease.

Unfortunately, the rest of the GT package is less well-rounded. Its ride is jittery over the sort of broken bitumen that swathes most British B-roads, the EDC gearbox is clunky on downshifts and its steering feels twitchy – especially in Sport mode. Despite its twin exhausts, the 205hp 1.6 turbo petrol engine sounds muted and rather characterless, too.

Thankfully, things improve on day two with the Megane 1.6 dCi. With smaller 17in wheels – the GT wore optional 18-inchers – and softer suspension, this car feels far more comfortable in its own skin. Ride quality is much improved, and the torquier 130hp diesel engine means it doesn’t feel much slower on the road (0-62mph takes 10.0 seconds, versus 7.1 seconds for the GT).

Indeed, the Megane diesel seems to have most bases covered. It’s a refined and comfortable cruiser with enough dynamic talent for when the Tarmac gets twisty. A Ford Focus is ultimately more fun, but the latest Megane runs it fairly close.

Renault Megane

On the inside

The Megane’s dashboard is dominated by a central tablet-style touchscreen. This measures seven inches across and is landscape-oriented on entry-level models; higher-spec cars get the 8.7-inch portrait-style screen seen here.

Renault says this is the ‘largest touchscreen in the non-premium class’, but is bigger necessarily better? We’re not sure. There’s no doubt the R-Link 2 system is easy to use, with bold graphics and intuitive menus. But the screen’s depth means frequently taking your eyes off the road – and there’s no supplementary joystick-style controller, such as that offered by Mazda. At least the optional colour head-up display helps avoid such distractions.

There are still a few cheap plastics in the Megane’s cabin, but it’s a vast improvement over the outgoing car. We’d put it on par with a Ford Focus for perceived quality. Particular attention has been paid to the bits you touch – steering wheel, gear lever, door pulls –which all feel pleasantly premium.

A special mention must also go to the Megane’s seats, which are the same as found in the larger Espace and Talisman models (neither of which is sold in the UK). They’re supportive and very comfortable, while the Alcantara (artificial suede) trim on GT models looks great.

Low-slung styling hasn’t unduly compromised space in the back; the car can still accommodate five adults in relative comfort. And the 434-litre boot is one of the largest in class. For comparison, a VW Golf holds 380 litres.

Renault Megane

Running costs

As noted previously, we don’t have list prices for the Megane yet. However, the car is likely to be a couple of thousand pounds cheaper than an equivalent VW Golf, for example. And if past form is anything to go by, Renault dealers won’t be averse to offering a discount. That said, if you plan to buy on finance, likely stronger residual values for the Golf could narrow the gap when it comes to monthly payments.

What about reliability? Well, early Meganes were pretty dismal in this regard, but Renault insists this has been one of the priorities for the new car. Its four-year/100,000-mile warranty is also better than the three-year/60,000-mile deal of many rivals.

In terms of fuel economy, the undisputed champ is the 110hp 1.5 diesel in Eco2 guise, which returns 85.6mpg and tax-dodging CO2 emissions of just 86g/km. The standard 110hp diesel achieves 76.3mpg and 95g/km, while the 130hp 1.6 diesel we drove manages 70.6mpg and 103g/km.

The petrol engines are also efficient, if not class-leading. Figures for the 100hp 1.2 Tce are 52.3mpg and 120g/km, and the GT returns 47.0mpg with 134g/km.

It’s worth remembering that, while most Megane buyers will opt for diesel, the upfront price premium (likely to be around £1,000) means lower-mileage drivers could save money by choosing a petrol engine.

Renault Megane

Verdict

The Megane has got its mojo back. It no longer has an ‘ass’ to shake, but it has shaken off the shackles of blandness to become one the most distinctive – and arguably most stylish – hatchbacks on sale. And yes, we know styling is only superficial, but those swoopy lights and curvaceous creases help set the Megane apart in this closely-fought class.

We’re less convinced by the Megane’s large touchscreen media system, but we suspect it will wow plenty of buyers in the showroom. If you’re the kind of person who always has the latest smartphone, the Megane could be for you.

We think the petrol GT model is a bit of an odd compromise. Like an office clerk shoehorned into a pair of trainers, it’s nimble but lacking in outright performance. The 130hp 1.6 diesel is a better and cheaper, covering all bases as any medium hatchback is required to do.

Renault hasn’t trumped the Golf or the newly-upmarket Peugeot 308 for desirability. Nor is it likely to match Kia Cee’d for value, or the Honda Civic for reliability. However, the Megane is a capable contender that, depending on prices when it reaches the UK in June, could be worth adding to your shortlist.

Renault Megane 1.6 dCi 130

Price: TBC (nearer to June 2016)

Engine: 1.6-litre diesel

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Power: 130hp

Torque: 236lb ft 

0-62mph: 10.0 seconds

Top speed: N/A

Fuel economy: 70.6mpg

CO2 emissions: 103g/km

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Two-Minute Road Test

Harder, faster, stronger – but is Renault’s new Clio Trophy better?

Renaultsport Clio 220 TrophyRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: What is it?

Stung by criticism of the standard Clio 200 hot hatch, Renault has responded with the Clio 220 Trophy. As its name suggests, it boasts an extra 20hp, plus 40% stiffer suspension, sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres and a quicker-shifting semi-automatic gearbox. Can the Trophy restore Renaultsport’s reputation?

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: What are its rivals?

The Ford Fiesta ST looms large over this sector, but the Clio also faces strong competition from the MINI Cooper, Peugeot 208 GTI and Volkswagen Polo GTI. The MINI is characterful but expensive, the 208 is at its best in pricey Peugeot Sport spec and the Polo is perhaps a tad civilised for its own good. And the Fiesta? It’s a modern classic.

03_renaultsport_clioRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Which engines does it use?

The Clio packs a 220hp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine mated – controversially – to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. There’s no manual option. Use the launch control and it sprints to 62mph in 6.6 seconds, with a top speed of 146mph.

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: What’s it like to drive?

A big  improvement on the standard Clio 200. In fact, on the right road, the Trophy comes close to brilliance. It turns in eagerly, and there’s no shortage of grip from the track-biased tyres (well, on dry roads at least). The EDC ’box blats through the gears and you can press and hold the paddle for multiple downshifts at once – Ferrari F12-style. However, when you’re not ‘on it’ in R.S. mode, the Clio feels decidedly ordinary. Its jittery ride that could prove wearing on longer journeys, too.

07_renaultsport_clioRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Fuel economy and running costs

Stay away from launch control, R.S. mode and all the other things that make this Clio fun and you could manage a respectable 47.9mpg. CO2 emissions of 135g/km mean annual car tax (VED) of £130 at 2015 rates.

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Is it practical?

The current Clio is only available with five doors, and its 300-litre boot is one of the biggest in the class. It’s still on the small side for a family car, though – and we wonder how well its flimsy interior would stand up to repeated school runs. On the plus side, Renault offers a generous four-year/100,000-mile warranty on all new cars.

04_renaultsport_clioRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: What about safety?

Safety is one of Renault’s strengths, and the Clio in no exception. It gained a five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests and scored an impressive 88% for adult occupant safety, plus 89% for child safety.

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Which version should I go for?

If your heart is set on a Renaultsport Clio, the Trophy is the one to go for. It costs a hefty £2,650 more than the regular 200, but feels markedly more focused and fun to drive. Just be wary of pricey extras, such as the matte white paint of our test car (£1,300).

09_renaultsport_clioRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Should I buy one?

You know what we’re going to say, don’t you? The Clio 220 Trophy is good, but it isn’t ‘Fiesta ST good’. While the Renault only really comes alive at ‘maximum attack’, the Ford simply feels special all of the time – whether you’re pottering or pushing it. The fact that the Fiesta costs up to £4,000 less than the Clio seals the deal. Even in top ST-3 spec, the Fiesta is still £2,000 cheaper.

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Pub fact

Renaultsport’s factory in Dieppe will soon become the venue for the rebirth of Alpine – a long-defunct French sports car manufacturer that used Renault engines. The forthcoming Alpine sports car may share its platform with the Nissan GT-R.

 

Lotus F1

Renault signs Letter of Intent to buy Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1Renault Group has signed a letter of intent with the owner of the Lotus F1 Team to buy a controlling stake in the Grand Prix constructor.

The French carmaker has reached a deal with Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l, which is an affiliate of Genii Capital S.A.: this is the company that has been running the Lotus F1 team for the past few years.

Renault says it and Gravity “will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.”

It will mark Renault’s 2016 return as a full F1 constructor – and also extend its involvement in F1 to 38 years. This latter point may be significant: Renault is hoping to get enhanced income from F1 bosses through gaining ‘historic team’ status.

The Lotus F1 cars are currently powered by Mercedes-Benz engines: Renault’s takeover of the team will likely see this engine supply move to the British startup Manor F1 team.

2016 Renault Megane revealed ahead of Frankfurt debut

2016 Renault Megane revealed ahead of Frankfurt debut

2016 Renault Megane revealed ahead of Frankfurt debut

Renault has released these official pictures of the new Megane hatchback ahead of its public debut at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Ford Focus rival shows design traits from other models in Renault’s range – such as the Talisman, which is also set to make its first public appearance at Frankfurt.

Unlike the Talisman, however, the Megane will be sold in the UK – with sales set to begin early next year.

In a move similar to Peugeot with its 308, the new Megane looks to be heading upmarket in a bid to take on the Volkswagen Golf.

Renault is yet to reveal any official pictures of the new Megane’s interior, but leaked pictures suggest it’ll feature a large touchscreen, similar to that of the latest Espace.

2016 Renault Megane revealed ahead of Frankfurt debut

From launch, a premium Megane GT will be available with a sportier appearance from its new front bumper design, along with a broader air intake and a new honeycomb grille.

To the rear, two chromed exhaust pipes hint at its sportiness, along with ‘Renaultsport’ badging.

Renault is yet to confirm the engine range for the new Megane, with a number of new units thought to be on the agenda.

It’s also remaining tight-lipped about a hot RS version to take on the likes of the Ford Focus ST and Honda Civic Type-R, but we expect to hear more in the near future.

To find out more about the new Renault Megane and other important unveilings at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, keep an eye on Motoring Research, where we’ll be reporting live from 15 September.

Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault has revealed a new concept vehicle previewing a pick-up truck set to be unveiled early next year.

The Renault Alaskan concept features a one-tonne payload and aggressive looks – enhanced by chunky 21-inch wheels and a purposeful stance.

Renault’s senior vice-president, corporate design, Laurens van den Acker, said: “The styling of the Alaskan Concept sticks to the rules of the pick-up segment, including impressive dimensions and a visual sense of power and robustness. At the same time, we have dialed in specific Renault cues in the form of an attractive, status-enhancing front-end design.”

The Alaskan is powered by Renault’s twin-turbocharged, four-cylinder diesel engine used in the Master van range.

The manufacturer says the Alaskan draws on its experience with crossovers such as the Captur to combine practicality for business users with demands from private buyers.

It hopes to cement Renault’s success in the commercial vehicle market across Europe – with a platform that will be shared with Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.

Nissan’s version of the pick-up truck, the NV300 Navara, is set to debut at the Frankfurt motor show later this month.

Renault Talisman

Renault Talisman Estate revealed – but it is NOT for Britain

Renault TalismanRenault has revealed a stylish estate version of its new Talisman large car – but confirmed once again there are no plans to sell it in the UK: the firm won’t even build it in right-hand drive.

Debuting at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, the large new Renault rival to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia is a big car (it’s nearly 4.9 metres long) but this pays off inside: it has almost 1,700 litres of boot space with the seats down.

Even with the seats up, there’s 572 litres of space and the total load length stretches to more than two metres.

Renault even offers a foot-operated electric tailgate for the new Talisman Estate.

Renault Talisman

The firm is claiming class-leading interior space, with the estate getting even more headroom in the back plus new ‘Cover Carving Technology’ seatbacks that liberate an extra 30mm of rear kneeroom.

Massaging front seats are offered, they can be ventilated, and even the headrests are ‘aviation-style’ and adjust in six ways.

Outside, Renault’s fitted aluminium roof bars and chrome-edged side windows: the subtle kick in the rear windowline is a neat touch and the rakish rear is smart.

Renault Talisman

Although the large family car D-sector market has declined over the years, it still accounts for more than one million annual sales across Europe, says Renault.

Estates are actually more important than saloons, taking 54% of overall volumes: that’s why it’s been so quick to launch the new Talisman Estate.

Underneath, it has 4Control four-wheel steer and active damping tech, plus familiar TCe petrol and dCi diesel engines.

See it for the first time at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show next month. But, Mondeo-owning Brits, don’t get too excited…

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

Renault has revealed for the replacement for its Laguna ahead of its official unveiling at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

However, the French carmaker has insisted that the Talisman won’t be sold in the UK.

In a statement, Renault said the Talisman would go on sale in Europe later in the year, but “there is no current plan for Talisman to be sold in the United Kingdom or Ireland.”

Renault axed the Laguna alongside a number of other unprofitable models early in 2012.

The large family car market, which also features the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, has been waning in recent years – with crossovers and SUVs taking up the slack in sales.

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

The Tali… Talis… Taliswhat?

Renault has decided to move on from a name synonymous with touring cars, safety and, er, unreliability with its Laguna-replacement.

We’ll let the boys in France explain: “Renault selects names for its models that symbolise their design and personality across all markets where they are sold. True to this tradition, the Talisman has been given a charismatic name that conjures up notions of both protection and power. At the same time, Talisman is an easy word to pronounce and is understood the world over.”

Er… essentially ‘Talisman’ sounds more robust than ‘Laguna’. And, as Renault already sales a model in China with the same name, it’s a badge that works internationally.

What powers the Renault Talisman?

Buyers of the Renault Talisman will get a choice of two petrol and three diesel engines. In a bid to move upmarket, the TCe petrol engines will be available exclusively with automatic gearboxes and with power outputs of 150 and 200hp.

The diesel units are likely to be the bigger sellers, available with 110 and 130hp, as well as the same twin-turbocharged 160 unit as the Espace. The lower-powered diesel emits just 95g/km CO2 when paired with the manual gearbox.

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

What else do I need to know about the Renault Talisman?

Renault has muttered a lot of stuff about ‘fluidity’ and ‘tucked in’ lines, but all we know is the Talisman looks pretty damn good. The front-end is similar to that of the new Megane, while the rear could be from a much more premium manufacturer.

There’s a big boot, while high-end models will get an 8.7-inch infotainment display. There’s no denying the Talisman sounds much more premium than its predecessor – with talk of massaging seats, BOSE speakers and electronic damper control.

But is it enough to convince buyers? If Renault decided to sell the Talisman in the UK, would you buy it?

Renault Wind

Renault trumped! Why the Wind failed to set sail

Renault WindIt probably wasn’t Renault’s plan to name one of its cars after a mildly unpleasant human condition, but the condition in question was what some people thought of when the Wind was mentioned.

Which is a shame, because wind of the wind-in-the-hair kind was what this dinky little Renault was supposed to be about. A completely reskinned and rather stylish two-seat machine based on the Twingo, the Wind also benefitted from RenaultSport tuned suspension.

It was a combination that promised some satisfyingly deft moments on country backroads, especially as both the engines offered were decently perky devices, one a turbocharged 1.2 of 100PS, the other a 133bhp variably-valve timed 1.6.

The Wind’s cool roof

Renault Wind

But the most intriguing thing about the Wind was its roof. Hinged at the rear, it would perform a 180 degree flip into the boot as an encore to the near-dizzying rise of its long rear deck lid, which lifted near-vertically to accommodate the Wind’s top.

Renault Wind

The whole process was automated and took only 12 seconds, although you needed to be stationary for the car to perform its lightly spectacular transformation.

Renault Wind

 

And this design avoided the humiliating surprise potentially suffered by occupants of Ferrari’s limited edition 550 Barchetta, whose flip-back roof simply folded onto the car’s bootlid. Come the sudden downpour, that rain-collecting lid could part-fill before spilling its contents over your head as you closed the car from the rainstorm above.

The Wind’s system was much better thought-through and would doubtless have been more expensive to make too, even if it was less complex than the folding roof of your traditional cabriolet.

Not cheap to develop

Renault Wind

The entire Wind project can’t have been cheap to develop, in fact. Not only were no exterior panels shared with the Twingo, but neither was its interior, the car getting a bespoke dashboard, centre console and door trims.

It was just the kind of intriguing niche derivative that journalists often chivvy manufacturers to build, rave over briefly at launch, and then forget about. Your reporter is among the guilty.

And there was quite a lot to rave about. The Wind’s low weight – just 1173kg as a 1.6 – and well-sorted suspension produced an entertainingly nimble drive, its agility heightened by its small scale and relative peppiness.

In some ways the 1.2 turbo was the better buy, this engine generating barely any less torque than the 1.6, and earlier in the rev range. Carefully weighted, well-placed pedals, a slickety-snick gearchange and revvy engines made a modest entertainer of this Renault, even if it wasn’t blazingly fast.

Cool Wind

Renault Wind

Windy downsides? Despite being an open-top car, this Renault’s curiously high flanks, big and steeply raked windscreen and small roof meant that you didn’t feel particularly exposed to the sky above, even if you dropped the windows.

Its steering was a bit too numb, the 1.6 motor needed a lot of revving to give its best and the road noise yelling from its mildly fat tyres could be enough to have you longing to get out. The will to escape was not countered especially strongly by the Wind’s interior, either.

Renault Wind

It may have been bespoke, and flaunted an instrument binnacle shrouding some rather sexy dial shrouds, but the low-grade plastics surfacing much of its cabin were almost as disappointingly as the steering wheel, which could have come from one of Renault’s vans.

But for all that it was quite an agreeable car, a lot more fun than your average cabrio on the right roads, and it looked pretty different. Renault launched the Wind in the middle of the summer of 2010 with prices starting from £15,500 and a range of no less than six models, later expanded when the GT Line and Gordini were added.

That turned out to be a lot of derivatives for relatively few buyers, the Wind’s life abruptly cut short by the sales and profitability crisis engulfing Renault UK during 2011.

Wound up

Renault Wind

A persistently unfavourable pound-to-euro exchange rate meant that models had either to be sold at a loss-making competitive price, or the reverse. And the effect was to trigger a sharp decline in sales and profits, prompting Renault’s UK managers to initiate a rather brutal cull of their range.

All the company’s low volume models were to be deleted, including several supposedly high-volume cars that weren’t, like the Laguna, Modus and Kangoo, besides the niche Wind and Espace.

So early in 2012, after not much more than 18 months on sale, Renault’s unusual sports two-seater had gone from the UK, and would only live another year in mainland Europe, being deleted in June 2013.

The result was that the Wind made as much impact on the British car market as the softest zephyr nuzzling a doldrum-marooned yacht. Only 2300-odd were sold, because the Wind’s UK life was cut short.

An ill Wind

Renault Wind

Like many specialty models it was a bit of a firework car, sales climbing high at first, only to fall to earth like a spent rocket. You could see that in its sales graph, the Wind initially registering around 300 sales per month, then 200, then 100 by the end of 2012. So it was already fading out when it was dropped.

That Renault also terminated around a third of its dealers around this time can’t have helped, but neither did the Wind’s slightly effete look, which ran counter to its more dynamic innards. It was not a bloke’s car, and that closed it off to plenty of sales.

Now it’s almost forgotten, unsurprisingly given that the already small pool (or should be whirl?) of 2300 Winds is now being reduced by attrition. You don’t often see one.

For Renault the Wind was ultimately an ill one (sorry), but the good news is that the company has not been discouraged from selling niche models, the next to arrive stemming from the rebirth its sporting Alpine marque.

Renault RCI Bank

You can now bank on Renault (and earn 1.5% interest)

Renault RCI BankRenault’s own finance company, RCI Banque, has launched a brand new savings arm in the UK called RCI Bank – making it the only car company to also compete in the UK savings market.

The new bank has rolled out a flagship savings product too: a ‘best buy’ easy access savings account that offers 1.5% AER interest.

The Freedom Savings Account has a starting balance of £100 and people can invest up to £1 million into it. There are no penalties, notice periods or tiered rates either, adds Renault: it’s a genuinely easy access product.

It’s not the only product the new ‘Renault Bank’ is going to launch either: a full range of products will be rolled out over the next year.

“Saving money should not be difficult,” said RCI Bank CEO Steve Gowler “We believe we have a product that people will love.

“We also have the added benefit of being part of a global group, working for Renault and Nissan brands, and we are committed to using our strength to deliver the very best savings accounts and security for our customers in the UK.”

All Renault and Nissan finance is provided by RCI Banque – and British savings in the UK RCI Bank arm are guaranteed by the French scheme FGDR to a vale of €100,000.

Keen savers will have to be quick though: the 1.5% offer is a launch special and won’t be available for long.

Act fast, then, if you’re one of the millions in the UK who have up to €160 billion in savings accounts earning 0.5% or less…