Tag Archive | "renault"

Renault Scenic XMOD – A Fine Family Car

Renault’s popular Scenic has been with us now since 1996, yet the company continue to evolve the model and it remains a popular family choice. Well, now they’ve done it again with a refreshed design and some of the very latest technology. For the purposes of this article we’ve chosen the XMOD version. This is because, although it has no claim to any real off-road ability is perhaps the better choice for the outdoor family.

The restyling carries design hints from the new Clio and big brother, the Captur. With this new car the rather pedestrian nature of predecessors has been thoroughly upgraded. It’s a versatile car that is also, for its type, a decent drive.

The Scenic XMOD has a sort of crossover appeal with its additional butch body trim and this look might not appeal to all Scenic fans, but otherwise there is plenty to recommend this car. The car features ‘Grip Xtend’ which is supposed to deliver extra traction on rough surfaces. There are three different settings: Expert, Road and Loose Ground, selected via a rotary control in the cabin. The vehicle is fitted with mud and snow tyres for additional security as standard.RSX Renault Scenic XMOD   A Fine Family Car

As previously mentioned this is no off-roader but may well give an extra sense of security on Britain’s rough roads during the Winter. Motor Blogger has tried it on grass and gravel and it does seem to seek out that little bit of extra grip. With the added bonus of winter tyres this seems like the ideal car for the school run.

Boot space has increased over the previous Renault Scenic to 555 litres, which compares well with the competition. There is 71 litres worth of storage space in the cabin too and the seats are individually foldable and removable. The interior is comfortable and roomy. There’s a choice of four engines on offer. For its type, this is car is good to drive. Performance is perfectly adequate, the seats are supportive and the high-riding view out is excellent. As you would expect, all the usual goodies are either standard or on the options list. The Bose sound system is especially good.

The car industry does rather like to talk up its products in over-the-top language and Renault are no different. The company says that this car has been ‘designed for men who are more than just dads, ready for their own adventures’. Is it likely to bring out the explorer lurking within suburban fathers? No; but when it comes to moving the family about the countryside then it is just the job.

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Dacia Duster Black Edition

The budget Dacia range has certainly gained a foothold in the minds of British drivers. In these days of high motoring costs the budget ethos of the Dacia brand has stuck a chord with car buyers.

The Sandero is the cheapest car available today and whilst it won’t win any premium prizes it is certainly an attractive and functional car that pretty much gives drivers all they need even if it isn’t everything they want. A new car for shockingly affordable money is hard to resist.

Dacia, recently subsumed under the umbrella of the French manufacturer Renault, has made an enemy of the unnecessary and makes a simple range of cleverly designed, high quality vehicles which unashamedly favour function over frivolity.

Dacia have not forgotten that some drivers need something a little more rugged and the highly regarded Duster fits the bill. To date – since its introduction earlier this year – the company have taken some 4,000 orders already so now they’ve announced a new special version threateningly called The Black Edition.

The Black Edition was originally supposed to be a one-off made especially for the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Such was the interest shown that the decision was made to actually offer this model for sale. Orders are being taken now for October delivery.

black2 Dacia Duster Black Edition

The Black is a Duster Ambiance dCi 110 two-wheel drive and it is loaded with a host of extras including a brushed black vinyl wrap finish. The interior has ash leather and a Kenwood media system. The Kenwood set-up includes a high-res screen, Garmin navigation (with traffic info), Bluetooth, DAB, hands-free and the usual connectivity. Buyers of this rugged motor will not just be delighted with the car, they’ll also be delighted with the price which is hugely competitive at £17,575.

As can be seen from the images the cars certainly looks the part – the image shows the optional roof mounted spots which might prove to be useful for campers or late night pizza hunters.

There must be something in it. Already the Sandero and Duster have won a selection of awards. It’s a no nonsense brand that doesn’t waste money on the things that – for most motorists – are only marginally of value. Instead it concentrates on real value for money. No doubt the we’ll see a goodly number of Black Editions on the road come next winter.

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Renault Zoe Sets A New Benchmark

In general the arrival of electric cars has been greeted with a sort of bored ambivalence. Certainly, some folk believe that they are the answer to the world’s climate problems and have gone out and bought one. These people probably live in Islington and wear a lot of designer black.

Nevertheless these cars sell; just not in the numbers that were maybe expected. Range anxiety is the principal issue, that and the price of them – government grant notwithstanding – for what you get. Well now the naysayer’s are going to have to eat their words. Renault have announced the Zoe and do you what? It’s a very good five door car.

We’ll come to the range issue later because it hasn’t gone away. First of all though, the car itself. It is a good looking supermini. If the onlooker didn’t know any better they would not realise that it is an EV. That’s it in the main picture.zoe b Renault Zoe Sets A New Benchmark

Inside, it is well finished with clean uncluttered lines; the dash being mercifully free of the many knobs and buttons festooning today’s cars. There is an excellent screen which, on the range-topping Dynamique Intens, incorporates a very acceptable reversing camera plus all the usual functions expected.

Although prices start at under £14k at base the versions that you would actually want to buy are rather more, so it is still not a cheap car; but given the new technology the price isn’t too OTT. The seats are supportive and comfortable. Even with a six-foot driver there is still knee room for a similarly sized rear passenger. Despite the compact size of the car this is good design which even leaves ample room for a perfectly acceptable boot space. Renault even come to your house and fit a charging point FOC and the car incorporates a ‘chameleon charger’ for go anywhere power connectivity.

This car drives really well with good acceleration and, obviously, virtually silent operation. A useful addition is the subtle engine-like growling noise the car makes at speeds below 20mph. This is sufficient to alert any dozy pedestrians who are not watching where they are going. Above twenty and the tyre noise will provide enough warning.

Range. There’s not much change here. Renault reckon up to about 130 miles is achievable but in the real world it is more likely to be about 90 miles. In winter, this figure will drop as the car uses more juice for ancillaries like lights and heaters. The Zoe does however harvest power KERS style from braking and offers an innovative heat pump that generates heat or cooling for less use of battery power.

Finally, the most contentious point. Renault will only lease the battery to an owner. The minimum cost is £70 per month. For the sort of mileage that owners of EV’s are likely to do that is probably at least the same amount of money that a frugal diesel will need for a month of driving, but without range anxiety. On the other hand, battery life is one less thing to worry about as owners will know that an exchange deal covers the life of the car.

So – a very good electric car that aids charging anywhere there’s a point and which has new ways of harvesting power. The range issue remains for drivers who have to go any meaningful distance but this is the EV against which all others will now be judged.

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Is This The Best Hot Hatch Ever?

Every once in a while, Motor Blogger – like a good boy who has eaten all his greens and done all his homework – is given a little treat. This is why, on an overcast day with the threat of rain on the horizon, Motor Blogger turned left out of a car park and onto a fast flowing ‘B’ road in a red car.

A pat on a paddle and a thrust on the throttle later and the world was going past the windows at the speed of light. Right behind was the permanent roar of a rather furious T-Rex. This then, is the introduction to the new Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC – arguably the best hot hatch on the planet.

Statistics are not really enough to describe this car. We can talk about 0-60mph times and top speed but for a drive as exhilarating as this you’ll forgive us if we wax poetic. The first thought is, ‘this is lunacy’, such is the sensation of power, but, as the car settles on the road, there’s a realisation that this rocket is just about as planted as it can get. There’s no drama; no sense of an imminent departure into the landscape – just driving perfection.

The traffic light sprint number of 6.7 seconds is good but not that different to the opposition but that doesn’t tell the whole story. This is because the experience of driving this Clio is a whole package. To be honest, it doesn’t quite have the raw appeal of its predecessor. This is a softer car. The seats are very comfortable and supportive, the ride excellent and not nearly as crashy as in earlier incarnations. On our roads this is a good thing.RS21 Is This The Best Hot Hatch Ever?

Some ultra-purists will say that it has lost something in its bid to become more of an all-rounder but for most drivers this car is absolutely the business. In auto mode or by using the paddles progress is swift – very swift – and secure. After driving for a while Motor Blogger looked down and saw a sport button. It’s got a sport button?! Right.

Select sport and the steering hefts up a bit and the otherwise unobtrusive traction control goes into a partial mode. Select race and it goes off altogether for full race effect. The trouble is – this is Little Britain and there is scant tolerance for shenanigans on the road. Best save ‘race’ for track days!

So; what have we got? Well, the Renaultsport Clio can pootle along in relaxed auto mode all day just by selecting drive although it is more involving to use the paddles of the efficient dual clutch gearbox. It is roomy, very comfortable with a high quality interior and a very tactile steering wheel. It is distinctive to look at with it‘s F1 style front blade, especially in liquid yellow, and cries out for the black gloss alloy option.

The truly good news is that if your maximum spend only extends to £20k this tremendous car remains within budget. A total winner from Renault.

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Ford Fiesta ST 2013 – The Most anticipated hot hatchback on the market

The new Ford Fiesta ST is arguably one of the most anticipated hot hatchbacks to arrive on the market this year. The Fiesta ST, the junior version to the Focus ST is set take the market by storm with its reasonable price tag, performance and style. With the upcoming Peugeot 208 GTI and Renault Sport Clio 200 due for release the market has never been closer but who will take pole position.

The Ford Fiesta ST is the cheapest option out of the three pricing at £2,000 lower than the Renault sport Clio 200 with the Peugeot 208 GTI a £100 cheaper than the Renault. This makes the Ford the best value for money and with Fords reputation of high quality expect reliability to come with the price tag. All boast a 1.6 litre turbo charged engine with the Fiesta ST using their Ecoboost engine providing 20% better fuel efficiency along with 15% reduced greenhouse emissions. The Renault Sport Clio 200 has the highest power with 197bhp; all models have had their performance vastly improved to appeal to the sporting drive.

The Ford Fiesta ST clearly sets itself apart from the modest Fiesta, a black mesh grill, chunkier bumpers, lowered suspension and 17-inch alloys creates a sporty persona for the usual family friendly car. Each hatchback has had a transformation of look and style; all becoming sleeker and leaner. It’s hard to pick out which model has the greatest looks, it could be argued that the Renault Clio has had the greatest change and seems to have benefited the most from this reinvention.

The Ford STs driving position is placed perfectly with the steering wheel and seats adjustable so the driver can ensure they have a comfortable driving position to suit them. Dab radio and air conditioning come as standard and £1000 extra will add leather trim seats, a higher spec stereo, LED headlights, keyless start and climate control. The Renault Clio comes with a 7 inch touch screen and electric folding door mirrors although this still may not justify the £2000 price difference.

The Ford Fiesta ST, Renault sport Clio 200 and the Peugeot 208 GTI are sure to be leading the way in the hot hatchback market. All are reasonably priced and will prove to be a popular choice with sporting enthusiasts but which will be the most popular? The Ford Fiesta ST seems to be the most eagerly anticipated but when all three are released onto the market a true verdict will be made.

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The Return Of A Legend – Possibly

As we head inexorably toward the dubious delights of a Christmas identical to every other Christmas in every way, it is nice to think back to balmy June when we here at Motor Blogger brought you news of something completely different – the Renault DeZir. This was a superb concept car shown at  the Paris Motor Show that harked back to the days of the iconic Renault Alpine A110 – arguably the most beautiful sports car ever. That’s it in the picture, leading the concept.

Thanks to the links between Caterham and Renault in Formula One, we might, just might, see a couple of new sports cars that hark back to that glorious past. Legendary designer Mike Gascoyne has joined the Caterham team and moves are afoot for the two companies to collaborate equally on this project.

The cars are likely to be built at Renault’s facility in Dieppe utilising the other company’s expertise. Anyone who has ever driven a two-seater built by Caterham will know what to expect. A spokesman has revealed details of the creation of a (modern) sports car with the DNA of the original Alpine A110.

The new company – officially called ‘Societe des Automobiles Alpine Caterham’ will first produce a sports car built on an alloy chassis, the design of which will hopefully hark back to those golden days. Apparently Caterham will design the soft top and Renault the coupé .

No news yet as to where the engine will sit – either at the back or amidships but ‘rear-drive’ is spoken of in hushed tones. Power will no doubt come from engines out of the Renaultsport stable, possibly a 1.6 litre turbo at some advanced state of tune. As you might expect, the companies remain tight-lipped about details, thus maintaining the mystery whilst issuing teasing morsels of information.

Fans of the Caterham Seven need have no fear. This isn’t a replacement for the stripped down road-racer. The all important price-point has been a subject of conjecture but the word is that, in these financial hard times, the car will be very competitive priced.

Isn’t it great that in a world of Euro-boxes there are still manufacturers who are willing to take a punt on something different. If the new car is priced at under forty thousand pounds, drives like a Seven and looks even a bit like the Alpine then the companies will sell every one they can make, recession notwithstanding. 2015/6 is spoken of – do an inventory of surplus body parts and start saving now.

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Sao Paulo Sensations

Motor shows are perennially popular. They are the conduit for manufacturers to let the buying public know about their latest offerings and concepts. They tell us which way the industry is going. Up here in the hard lands of the winter we’re used to hearing about the shows in Europe and the Far East, but down in the Southern Hemisphere, where the other half live, people buy cars too apparently and one of their most prestigious motor shows has just closed in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Manufacturers are keen to commit to Brazil as they see it as a growing and productive economy, unlike stagnant Europe. Brazil is now listed as the fourth largest car market in the world and car makers have sensibly been revealing new models to this burgeoning market.

Volkswagen have been aware of this for decades of course. They’ve been building cars there since 1959. This time they have introduced the new, and frankly sensational Taigun concept to the world (pictured). It’s an SUV, Jim, but not as we know it. Based on the UP! City car but with slightly larger dimensions, it is a full five-seater with a punchy one litre engine driven through a six speed ‘box. Lined up against it’s bigger siblings the Tiguan and Toureg, the family resemblance is there but in a tiny dimension. If it is finally built, and it looks probable, it will almost certainly sell in droves.

In keeping with the small is beautiful theme, Nissan have shown the Extrem concept – and yes, that is the right spelling. Designed to sit below the Juke and Qashqai models, the Extrem is based on the Micra platform and is believed to be demonstrating Nissan’s future look.

Interestingly, Renault sell their Dacia brand in South America badged as Renaults. This is apparently because there the people don’t really go along with the rather pretentious idea of low budget ranges and the like. There are cheap cars and there are expensive cars and that’s it. Thus the Dacia Duster becomes the Renault DCross and very butch it is to, with many manly embellishments to the exterior. Brazilians like their motors a bit tougher than us soft Europeans, which is why Honda add bigger bumpers and body cladding to the Jazz and call it the Fit Twist!

Things are changing in the car world. Sao Paulo is now arguably the most vibrant of auto industry market places. All the brand names had a car or two on show and many new ideas have been seen. It demonstrates the continuing trend to smaller vehicles with smaller, more efficient engines. Maybe it would shake up the European market if customers decided to go Latino!

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The Alpine Berlinette Turns 50

Some cars are just so gorgeous, so iconic, that you can scarcely breathe in their presence. The Alpine A110, popularly known as the Berlinette, is a French sports car built, unsurprisingly, by Alpine and powered by Renault engines. It was made from 1961 to 1977 in various versions and in this writers humble opinion is the best looking sporting car ever – and I don’t say that lightly.

The car was once famous for beating all-comers in rally sport, initially with the famous Gordini engines which developed – wait for it – 95bhp at 6500rpm. The car reached international fame during the 1970-1972 seasons when it participated in the newly created International Manufacturers Championship, winning several events around Europe and being considered one of the strongest rally cars of its time. In the hands of the brilliant Ove Andersson it won the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally. Sadly, by 1974, it was starting to show its age and, although the company tried substituting new fangled fuel injection instead of Weber carburation, no extra power could be gained and the car had to give best to the mighty and infamous Lancia Stratos.

In honour of its noble heritage, designers at Renault have come up with the concept Renault Alpine A 110-50, dedicated to performance and driving enjoyment. That’s it in the snap. If you compare it with the original cars (look for pictures on the web and be in awe) you’ll see all the design cues from 50 years ago shining through. They’ve built the new car out of carbon fibre and painted it in a new shade of blue which refreshes and reinterprets the famous original ‘Alpine Blue’.

The Renault designers of this modern beauty have ‘reinterpreted’ (that’s designer language for ‘sort of copied’) the styling but, for future reference, have also included the new design ‘language’ first introduced in 2010 in the DeZir concept at the Paris Motor Show. The front end of the DeZir is expected to be pretty much be the face of future Renaults and you can see it clearly in the Concept Alpine.

Inside, the Concept Alpine has a steering wheel, designed in-house, incorporating a colour screen and including the same technology as a Formula Renault 3.5L single-seater to provide drivers with all the information they need. But it’s not all for show. The efficiency of the new car is largely generated by ground effect created by a hidden splitter in the front bumper which generates significant down force. Add to this a 3.5L engine driving the rear wheels through a six speed semi-automatic box and you’ve got a true sports car worthy of the name of its illustrious predecessor. If only they’d actually produce it! Va Va Voom!

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