Magazine Article. Renault 18
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    Default Magazine Article. Renault 18

    Source: "On The Road" magazine number 101
    Page 1 of 3


    Renault 18 tested


    Few medium-sized cars have enjoyed more rapid success than the Renault 18. ln 1979 it achieved 18th place in Britain's car sales league table, despite having been launched part of the way through the year.

    Among the purely imported cars (leaving aside those with a British-based name) it was outsold only by the two smallest Datsuns.

    the Renault 12, which was launched in 1969. In the face of apparently more modern opposition, why does the 18 fare so well ? Part of the answer lies in the range of models, offering a choice of two engine sides (1,400 cc and 1,650 cc) and two levels of trim and equipment (only the more GTS specification model is expensive and more sporting currently available on the Australian market).

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    Towards the end of 1979, this range was supplemented by a spacious estate car (station wagon). Yet the question remains: what is it about the 18 that makes it a British (and European) best- This success was achieved despite the fact that the 18 is in effect no more than a modernised, re-bodied version of

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Magazine Article.  Renault 18-r18_1_piccies1.jpg  
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    Source: "On The Road" magazine number 101
    Page 2 of 3


    seller ? To find the answer, we tested one of the mid-range models-the 18TS with the bigger of the two engines but the lower standard of trim.

    Performance and economy
    The l.65-litre engine of the 18TS is mildly tuned to produce moderate power but very reasonable torque. It drives through a four-speed gearbox (the 18GTS has a five-speed box) to the front wheels. An automatic choke helps reliable starting, hot or cold, and the engine's behaviour while warming-up is extremely good, with no sign of hesitation. The engine also feels extremely smooth and lively except when asked to run at very high speed.

    For the size of engine, the gear ratios are on the low side.
    There is no rev counter in the 18TS, but the engine feels much more strained as it approaches its upper rev limit and our acceleration test results confirm that there is no point in revving the engine excessively. First gear will not take the car to 50 km/h (30mph), second gear falls short of 80 km/h (50mph), and third gear only just reaches 114 km/h (70mph). This is a recipe for brisk acceleration as long as the gears are used to maximum effect, and also leads to a fairly low top gear which gives good flexibility. On tie other hand, low overall gearing often leads to poorer fuel economy. In the Renault it does not-as reflected in the fuel consumption figures below.

    The choice of second and third gears means that from 33 km/h (20mph) up to 1 14 km/h (70mph), the Renault 18 matches the much more sporting Lancia Beta Coupe or Aflasud Sprint in acceleration. Since our standard overtaking manoeuvre (measuring the time needed to pass a 12 m, 65 km/h (40ft, 30mph) lorry), is almost always accomplished without exceeding 1 14 km/h (70mph), it follows that the Renault turns in an extremely good result: it needs only 8.1 seconds and 203 m (223yds) of road space to return to safety on its own side of the road.

    Beyond 114 km/h (70mph) the story is rather different, because the Renault is then in top gear and its performance is no longer so sporting. Its maximum speed is close to 161 km/h (100mph) which brings the engine just about to its 5,500rpm power peak in top gear. In other words, the overall gearing is not as low as might at first appear.

    Were the gearing poorly chosen, it is unlikely that the Renault would return anything like the excellent set of fuel consumption figures we achieved. Driven gently round our fuel test circuit to achieve a 50 km/h (30mph) average, the 18TS managed an impressive 6.4 litres/loo km (47.9mpg)-the best result we have yet obtained from a petrol- fuelled car, though a long way short of the VW Golf Diesel (see pages 2576 to 2570). Stepping up the pace to 65 km/h (40mph) still returned 7.32 litres/l00 km (38.5mpg), while the rapid driving needed to manage 80 km/h (50mph) average brought the figure down to 9.6 litres/l00 km (29.3mpg)--once again, the best petrol-engine figure we have so far seen. With these figures as a background, it was not surprising that the Renault turned out to be economical overall. Even when driven very hard indeed-for. the period including our performance testing-it managed nearly 10 litres/l00 km (28mpg), while for the whole test period the figure was 9.12 litres/l00 km (30.9mpg). The Renault, in fact, is more economical than many smaller cars with smaller engines. Its fuel capacity of slights less than 54.5 litres (12galls) means it should give most owners

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Magazine Article.  Renault 18-r18_page2.jpg  
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    Source: "On The Road" magazine number 101
    Page 3 of 3


    I give an extra feeling of stability and predictability. If the 18 is driven fast along a twisting road, however, the understeer can carry the car well wide of the driver's intended line. A skilled driver may allow for it by aiming at a point inside the apex of each corner so that the wider line becomes the correct one. In extreme situations, of the type unlikely to be encountered during normal motoring, it is possible for the front wheels to lose their grip altogether, so that the car travels straight on and care must be taken, particularly in wet road conditions. In an emergency avoidance or a quick lane change, it is very noticeable that the l8's response to the first movement of the wheel is quick, but that a much larger movement-two or three times as large as the first--is needed to regain a straight course.

    As might be expected from such behaviour, the 18's straight-line stability is first class and it is very relaxing to in strong crosswinds its stability drive on motorways, even remains good on poor and broken surfaces. With two passengers in the back seat and a full load of luggage in the boot, the steering becomes somewhat lighter and the understeer effect is reduced.

    For a car of this side, the Renault 18 brakes look rather small, with 228 mm (9ins) discs at the front to do Most of the work, and 180 mm (7.1ins) drums at the back. In practice the brakes work well being light to operate yet free from snatch, and fading little in hard use. The hand- brake is light and quite effective and all four wheels lock together in an emergency stop so that the car remains stable even under the severest braking.

    Comfort

    Despite its short wheelbase-243 cm (96ins) is below average for a car in this class-the Renault is extremely roomy. The total of front and rear legroom comfortably exceeds the 223 cm (88ins) minimum we feel is needed for a large passenger to sit comfortably behind a large driver. As is often the case, the total legroom improves as the front seats are slid forward. The driving position is comfortable except (has some very small drivers may have trouble reaching the pedals comfortably : the Renault driving seat is higher than usual, giving a very good view all round.

    Rearward adjustment is, however, limited for tall drivers.
    In Renault tradition, front seat comfort is good and remains so on long journeys, although fast drivers could do with more sideways support i the 18 rolls a good deal when cornered hard, if riot as much as its predecessor the 12. The bench-type back seat is also comfortable, though lacking a centre armrest, and offering too little headroom.

    The ride is good at any speed, but tends to improve as the car is driven faster. At 97 km/h (60mph) or more, the ride (except for the roll already mentioned) feels outstandingly stable and free from road shocks. Heater output is good and easily controlled, but the 18's ventilation suffers by comparison with some cars in its class, mainly through the lack of fresh air inlets in the centre of the fascia as well as at each end.

    As is now the case on many modern cars, all the important minor controls are grouped in three column mounted stalks. A next binnacle in front of the driver houses the
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Magazine Article.  Renault 18-r18_page3_piccies.jpg   Magazine Article.  Renault 18-r18_piccies3.jpg  
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    speedometer, clock, and combined fuel contents and water temperature gauge, with the warning lights ranged in a row across the top. The heater controls, radio, and switches for the heated rear window and hazard warning system are housed in the centre console.

    The Renault gearchange is light and reasonably positive, though with a long fore-and-aft lever movement compared with its narrow sideways gate. The windscreen wipers work well, but the flow through the washers is less than is needed to wash the screen thoroughly. The headlights are strong on both main and dipped beam, the latter with a very well-defined cut-off pattern.

    Luggage
    One of the features of the Renault is its deliberate use of a conservative |three-box' shape with a conventional boot, rather than the hatchback which is covered in the Renault models (the 14 and 20) on either side of it in the range. The boot is large enough to take surprisingly bulky items, helped especially by its 46 cm (18ins) average depth. There is, however, a high sill over which heavy items must be lifted and this can prove rather awkward.

    service points
    The seriousness with which Renault take the British market can be seen in the way they have transferred the bonnet release in the 18 to the right-hand side of the car- an almost unheard-of consideration by a Continental manufacturer. The bonnet, however, must be lifted and propped manually. Underneath, the in-line engine layout helps to make most of the regular checks and occasional maintenance straightforward. There are no bad points on the regular checklist: the low-sited battery is the least convenient feature. For the mechanic, the only serious stumbling block is the adjustment of the alternator drive- belt, which is extremely awkward to reach. The spare wheel is cradled under the boot floor so that it can be lowered without disturbing the luggage load; in Renault tradition, there are only three studs per wheel instead of the more usual four or five used by other manufacturers.

    Value for money ?


    The more one studies the price lists and sorts out possible rivals, the more it becomes apparent why the Renault 18 is so popular. In this TS form there is only one car-the Peugeot 305SR-which is of similar layout and matches most of its qualities, most notably its roominess, its comfort and its economy. Volkswagen's Jetta comes close in many ways but is noticeably smaller, yet rather more expensive in its nearest equivalent, 1.5LS, form. The Talbot Alpine is close in many ways, but is a hatchback-and there is a strong feeling that many 18 buyers choose the car because it is not a hatchback.

    There are several rear-wheel drive (RWD) cars in the same price class and offering a boot rather than a hatchback, not least the Ford Cortina 1.6L which is close on price and, it might seem, accommodation. Yet this is where the superiority of front-wheel drive (FWD) in allowing extra space inside, and Renault's experience in providing real seating and ride comfort, have the last word.

    Even in TS form, the 18 is very well equipped. For rather more-though still a competitive preceding can opt for the GTS with its fifth gear, electric windows, centralised door locking and headlamp wash/wipe system.
    Whether you opt for those trimmings or not, the 18 is a formidable combination of price, economy? comfort and performance. It may not please keen drivers with its understeer and body roll, but it comes very close to the sort of car many buyers are seeking : a good deal closer, indeed, than most of its rivals.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Magazine Article.  Renault 18-r18_piccies_2.jpg  
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