Archive for the ‘Renault’ Category

French Flair in N.I.

In Renault on October 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm

JumboMeet Dumbo the French SUV with big ears and smiley face.

After the patchy years of the Mk3 Laguna, hideous Mk1 Koleos, and bloated Scenic the Renault brand seems to be enjoying some sort of renaissance.

Hooking up with Nissan has given them access to a broader corporate parts bin, and they’ve made good use of the components to rustle up their very own version of the Qashqai.

On my recent trip to Northern Ireland I enjoyed three days behind the wheel of this Renault Kadjar 1.5 Dci Dynamique Nav with optional 19″ wheels.

“Mine” was a lovely deep shade of metallic blue, so it looked great on the outside.  The inside was less impressive.

For someone brought up on a diet of Renault, 16s, 20s, 30s, and the like I always miss the high quality cloth and velour of yesteryear.  It was way better than leather, and felt classy.

Up front the dashboard and controls were made of a reasonable grade of plastic, and I can’t say I missed the BMW wood veneers that I’m used to.

What did impress was slick gearbox, comfortable roomy cabin, and plethora of tech aids which are absent on my daily driver.

Somehow the illuminated leaves that configure a tree induced me to be more light-footed than the blue readouts that flicker on my 2 series.


When speed signs were clearly visible the dash displayed the speed limit to the right of a clear digital mph readout.

Very impressive.

Sadly the 1.5 diesel only pumps out 110 bhp, so in the words of Courtney Barnet this car was “Pedestrian at Best”.

If like me you’re a persistent “Drink Driver” you’ll also be disappointed with the provision of shallow “bottle holders” and door pockets that fail to cradle the obligatory sparkling water.

On the plus side the boot is far more accommodating, with a useful false floor.


Not so clever is the lack of an electronic opener. On wet days access via the low slung catch results in dirty fingers every time.

Once shut the back end looks smart.

BumThis shot shows the cumbersome the door mirrors, which block forward visibility at roundabouts and junctions.

In summary I was pleasantly surprised by this French take on the British built Nissan.

Would I buy one?

Quite possibly.

I’d prefer something with more power, but the autos are unavailable on anything with any poke.

Pick of the range?

1.2 Petrol Auto?

Quite possibly.








Stick or Twist?

In BMW, Renault on July 22, 2017 at 5:42 pm

BMW 125 JULY 17In the last 9 years we’ve had six BMW’s. Four have been very good, one indifferent, and one hugely disappointing.

The 125 M Sport has been with us for 4 years now, and it might be time to change.  There’s 43,000 miles on the clock, and thus far it’s been reliable.

Chopping it in may not seem logical, but we’re at the stage where it has started to cost money.   A new tyre recently set us back more than £200.

Both the front and rear bumpers have suffered buffs and bashes whilst the car has been parked. If we want to “stay together” we’d probably need an expensive warranty.

Do we stick with it for another year? Buy another new shape 1 series, or try something completely different?

The former would be quite costly, but a trade in and a moderate cash outlay could see us in something with a lengthy warranty.

I’ve ruled out the Yaris, but today we were pleasantly surprised by a Twingo GT.

There are only 10 available on Autotrader, most are bright orange.




But we drove the white demonstrator.


Which features orange detailing.


We arrived at Masters Beckenham with fairly low expectations, but the proof would be in the pudding.

Perhaps we might be surprised?

So we each took took a turn behind the wheel.


Travelling with the salesman meant that one of us ended up in the claustrophobic rear.

ClaustrophobiaThe seats remind me of those in our old Renault 12 TS, which also look like giant tomb stones.

Roz found them quite comfortable, but I’d say the seats in the seventies saloon were more supportive.

So how did it go?

Surprisingly well!  There is no auto option on this Twingo, despite the fact it’s cousin the Brabus Smart has no manual option.

Neither of us have had a manual car for years, but it wasn’t an issue.  Indeed the tactile metal gear knob, with a  very direct shift was a joy to “stir”.

In the back the turbocharged three cylinder gave off a delightful throbbing hum, encouraging upshifts.

When it was my turn I acclimatised myself with the radio (pretty good), Sat Nav (adequate) and rear parking camera (such fun).

Then I was off.

I liked it!

It felt like I was stepping back into an analogue world, my own hybrid car feels “remote” by comparison.

The cost to change is virtually nothing.

Should we stick or twist?

5 seats and a prestige badge v 4 seats in a French Box

We’ll sleep on it!

A tight turning circle, better economy, cheaper insurance v more of the same?

I’ll keep you posted.






Now for something completely different!

In BMW, Renault on May 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm

 2Monty Python’s Flying Circus!

I lied.

Actually it’s a pair of electric cars.

I’ve driven the high spec white one on the right.

The Renault Zoe.

According to the gent who accompanied me on my 5 mile trip it’s got loads going for it.

Affordability.  A roomy, attractive hatch for around £16,000.

No road tax.

No congestion charge.

Free battery re-charging of up to 80% of the power within 30 minutes at numerous sites across the UK.

New battery packs if they fail during the first 4 years.

Free charging point installed at your home when the car is ordered, and a typical charge cost of just 80p at home.

Sat Nav to guide you to recharging stations.

A decent sound system.

Funky dash layout.



Air Con.

Big Boot.

Plenty of space.

All of which sounds so wonderful you might imagine I’ve just ordered one.

But I haven’t.

The 135 mile range is on a good day with a fair wind behind you.

Typically folk can cover 80 miles on a fully charged battery.

Then there’s the acceleration.

It’s okay at low speed, but over 40 mph it seemed to lose oomph.

Then there’s the fixed height front seats.  No problem for the driver, but little space for feet in the back.

I begrudged the centre console being positioned towards the left, belying the French origins.

The ride over bumps was unlike the classic Renault’s of old.

My 10s, 12, and 16 sailed over speed bumps, the Zoe crashed over them and was quite shaken up.

On the move the car was quiet apart from road noise, which in a normal car would be drowned out by the engine.

So my test was hardly exhaustive, but I’d say it’s the best new Renault in 20 years.

Given the choice I’d rather have one than BMW’s latest electric city car, which looks hideous in comparison.

Let’s give it 7 out of 10, with the caveat that one can’t expect to use on anything other than sort runs.

The big negative is the lack of a lead for the car to be topped up with a conventional 3 pin electrical socket.

That’s ridiculous!



In Renault, Volvo on July 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm

photoHere’s the car gaining the most column inches in the mags right now.

The NEW Ford Fiesta ST 2.

I thought it might make a nifty replacement for our BMW 320 (which I’d love to move on, but my wife wants to keep).

What’s to like?

Swanson Ford for starters. A small “family” garage, so unlike the big chains on Marsh Barton.

I spoke to three of their staff, and Kerry Graham was switched on and likeable, somebody deserving one’s hard earned cash.

The manager was young, helpful and knew his onions too.

Despite it being tucked at the back of the forecourt, and covered in “transporter buffers” and plastic they let me out for an accompanied test drive.

Right from the off it felt superb.

Lovely controls, slick gearbox, and well balanced pedals.

Unlike the Toyota GT86 I tried a few week back this was pleasantly vocal, but not in a tiring way.  It felt way quicker too, at about £7,000 less.  Mind you it shared the Jap cars supple, but sporty suspension.

How do they do that?

I’m impressed.

What could I mark it down on?

Not much, Ford still persist in naff folding rear seats which look cheap from inside the boot and refuse to fold level with the boot floor.

That wacky orange wasn’t to my tastes, and maybe I’d prefer a 5 door (not available yet).

The Sat Nav was a bit Mickey Mouse, but good enough and not an expensive option.

I don’t think you can get cruise control, and wheras the equivalent Renault Clio only comes as an Auto this only comes as a manual.

Would I have one?


But would the “Mrs” take my Volvo cast off if I chopped in the 320?


I’m pleased report Swanson’s are doing well.

Two days later their ST2 was sold.

That’s three gone in as many weeks.

Not bad for a family business.

Not bad at all.

How did they ever sign this off? The Renault Twizy

In Renault on May 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Today I popped my Sonata in for a major service at the local Renault/Hyundai franchise, whilst I was there I took a look at the new Renault Twizy electric “car”.

In my heart of hearts this was one new vehicle I really wanted to like.

It’s a bold attempt to create a niche market (good), and I really like the funky name.

And then I sat in one.

Oh dear.

This machine seems to have come from the same mould as disastrous machines like the Ford Scorpio,Morris Ital, and Fiat Argenta.

It’s just plain awful.

I’m only 5ft 10 and half inches tall, and sitting in the drivers seat my eyes were staring at the screen header rail, and drab black roof.

How can a giant automotive company like Renault make such a preposterous mistake?  To their credit Bristol Street Motors in Exeter have sold two of these doorless wonders for over £7000, but it’s an awful lot of money.  Despite reading press articles and watching You Tube clips I couldn’t believe how small it was.

Outside on the forecourt were pre-reg hatchbacks with doors and real engines for less than a well specced Twizy.

Look what happened to Ford’s large car sales after they ditched the Granada.  They totally dried up.  Galaxy apart Ford in Europe were never able to take on BMW, Audi, or Mercedes.  They quite simply shot themselves in the foot.

Morris ignored reports slating the Marina, and thought that adding rectangular headlights and changing it’s name would suffice.  To cap it all they also offered hideous colours.  Where are Morris today?  The only one’s I ever see are outside pubs dancing with hankies.

The Argenta.  You don’t remember it do you?  This monstrosity replaced the reasonably successful 132, again by adding rectangular headlights and nifty sun visors.  To add interest they jacked the whole thing up to make it look like a machine from American destruction derby.  That killed the handling, and do you know they killed their mid-range car sales overnight.


One of Four. My last 10.

In Renault on December 30, 2011 at 10:56 pm

One of my friends says I drive faster than anyone he knows.  Perhaps this unlikely car is the reason why.

As a car enthusiast from about the age of 4 my father guided me towards the Renault 10 as a “first car”. At the age of 18 I listened to his advice and promptly boughta  Fiat 127 instead. My little Italian marvel went like the clappers but was always going wrong.

So guess what came next?

Yup a Renault 10. A rather faded metallic blue one. Or maybe it was grey, whatever the original sheen had long gone and I vividly remember the day I collected it from the Red Lion Garage in Mortlake.

It was comically slow, and gave away 2 bhp to the little Fiat.  So there I was a young tearaway with just 43 bhp on tap.

But boy did we have fun.  The small fuel tank was empty by mid afternoon and a bunch of lads walking along the A23 just rushed up behind me and pushed at running speed a full mile to the nearest petrol station.  Corners needed respect as the engine hung out the back and the suspension was made from primitive swing arms.

This was the start of something special. I pretty soon came to realise the car could he husteled at ludicrous speeds.  The trick was to “keep your foot in” or risk an almighty spin when you lifted off.  So slow in, quick out was the motto.  The car needed to be delicately balanced.  Push to hard and the light front end would just wash out with understeer.

The best fun was had in the snow.  This thing was grown up cousin to the superb Renault 8 Gordini.  I once took Roz back from a party long before we got married, and in the snow at 5 mph in central Croydon I had a monstrous spin.  I dropped off and went out again to hone my technique.  The skinny tryes cut through the deep snow letting me set it up for the bends, whilst the heavy 5 bearing engine at the back provided unbelievable traction.

Remember this was all years before ABS, but somehow I never even banged a kerb.

So amybe this is were i gained my confidence behind the wheel.  I have no idea how many trips from Coulsdon to Cornwall ensued, but well remeber a classic battle with a then current BMW 635. On the largely un dualled A303 it just couldn’t lose me.  The dual carriageway straights saw me fall back, but on the single carriageways and twisty stuff I caught up.  The R10 was so narrow I could squeeze through narrow gaps any normal car would never attempt.

Oh, and I forgot to mention this car could handle abuse.

The engine was torquey, there were 4 disc brakes (yes, I even changed the pads myself).

More to follow….



I’ve got Wind

In Renault on May 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Here’s my latest.

A Renault Wind 1.2 TCE GT Line.

Press the magic button and the roof stows away in the just 12 seconds. Add another 12 on the open road the turbulence inside the cabin is phenomenal.

At this stage I should point out I don’t eat baked beans or rhubarb, oh no.

Those crafty frogs have designed their latest roadster with a screen that’s too low, and seats that are too high.

Is that a problem?

Could be, but after 16 months tin top motoring I’m inclined to think not.

If I’d wanted something more “normal” I could have tried a Mini One convertible, or a Mazda MX5. After years of boring company cars I’m through with normality.

I prefer left field.

In my first few weeks I’ve covered over 2000 miles, and averaged 37.5 mpg. “Brainy” people have suggested I’d get better economy with the roof up! Duh!


The turbulence with the roof down enables me to keep within the speed limit.  Put the roof up and speed rises accordingly, with a net loss of a few fractions of economy.

The dry weather has afforded an opportunity to go topless for about 75% of the time. My face is getting red from the blustery wind, and sun’s UV and I’m not about to start using sun cream.


I’m just back from the Renault’s second trip to London.  No matter how much I sing the praises of the little batmobile I have to admit it’s very tiring in comparison with the 268bhp BMW Z4 coupe I just drove back from Belgium.

Ragging the Renault  all the way home mpg has dropped into the 36 mpg range, whilst a 3.0 litre Z4 loped along getting 30 mpg.

I really enjoyed pressing on even in heavy rain.  My personal challenge was to make sure I could still see where I was going without relying too heavily on the wipers.  Keeping within the legal limit and using the wipers in the normal fashion it wasn’t long before the wind pressure spilt swept rain into the open cabin.  Knock off the auto wipers surprisingly the view out stayed pretty good, and the cabin stayed dry.

Over 200 odd miles I managed to average 68 mph, but then the roads were pretty deserted.

4000 Miles

We’ve been together nearly two months now, and I think i’ve established what’s good and not so good about this little roadster.  Firstly it quite patently isn’t a “Grand Tourer”.  The road noise wears me out in half the time of a “normal” car.

Secondly it isn’t a “Sports Car”.  It hasn’t got enough grunt to be sporting, especially away from the lights or up a long hill against any diesel repmobile.

What is it then?

Well, it’s a fun car for twisty A and B roads, and fabulous with the roof down at speeds below 50 mph. Old style pre-motorway routes then just like you get in Cornwall.  We just took it to Cornwall with luggage for 2 and clutter for 6 and it all squeezed into the boot without problem.

The more I look at it the more I am coming round to the fact it’s pretty. People keep making favourable comments, and even though there’s no open rear deck it feels wonderfully breezy on a hot day.

Now the fuel meter is reading 36.3 mpg I’d have to say it isn’t even that economical.  But it’s a car you do want to just get in and drive, even when you’ve nowhere particular to go.  How many £12,000 new cars make you want to just get in and drive?  Not many!

P.S. We were together for 15,000 miles and eventually the road noise and disappointing economy became too much.  I said goodbye to the Renault in November 2011.  I lost £5000 when I traded it in, and a few weeks later Renault UK confirmed this model is being dropped from their range due to disappointing sales.