Renault to launch new model in Moscow

August 25th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Renault will shortly be releasing a new model named ‘Symbol’ at the forthcoming Moscow Motor Show which opens on August 26.

The range of sprightly petrol and diesel engine is at the market’s leading edge when it comes to low fuel consumption, while the suspension and running gear have been engineered for comfort and efficiency.

Its length of 4.26 metres and height of 1.43 metres ensure nicely balanced proportions, while the design of the headlamps emphasizes the front end’s styling. The side view is that of a prestigious saloon, while the robust lines of the rear are also suggestive of status. The presence of chrome trimming for the grille and rear panel adds a further note of refined distinction. The newcomer’s seductive appeal and perceived quality are immediately apparent inside the cabin, too. New Renault Symbol also provides generous boot space which is as ideally suited to professional use as it is to a weekend in the country.

New Renault Symbol is powered by a range of latest-generation engines, all of which combine performance, low fuel consumption and respect for the environment. These powerplants — whether petrol or diesel — are the most fuel efficient of this three-box car’s category and make it truly economical to run. The front end’s distinctive looks point to the vehicle’s outstanding on-road performance and travelling comfort. New Renault Symbol benefits from the same suspension as Clio II which is acclaimed for the quality of the balance it strikes between comfort and roadholding and the quiet ride it delivers.

New Renault Symbol will be sold in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and the Maghreb countries. New Zealand is not expected to receive the new model.

The first public airing of the latest addition to the line-up outlined in the Renault Commitment 2009 plan will be the forthcoming Moscow Motor Show, which opens its doors on August 26.

Renault to revive Alpine name with Nissan underneath

July 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

It has been rumoured that Renault could launch a great-grandson of the original hot French rally car, the Alpine A110, based on the forthcoming 370Z platform

The fact that the A110 had the engine mid-mounted and the 370Z (successor to the 350Z) has the engine in the nose is a convenient detail left out of the rumour circuit, but if the new Alpine continues the bloodline of the Alpine-Renault A110/GTA/Spider it can’t be a bad thing.

With Renault increasingly going for hot FWD hatches, like the Megane R26.R, it would be great to see some track-focused RWD cars.

Hottest Renault Megane ever the R26.R

July 24th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Renault has released the hottest Megane to date, the R26.R, which features a stripped and caged interior (ala Porsche GT3 RS) with sport seats and the promise of high thrills for a resonable price.

Only 450 of these cars will be built with the allocation for each country shown on a plate inside the car.

This Megane is one serious road car with full racing harness and polycarbonate rear and side windows added for lightness. This is one tough French car that we will unfortunately have to miss out on as there are no plans to bring it to New Zealand officially. Prices in the UK start at NZ$62,000 before options.

View the press release below

The Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26 was launched in November 2006 and has enjoyed a great success. Using this base, Renaultsport launch an extreme version, the Megane Renaultsport R26.R. Developed by Renault Sport Technologies, the Megane R26.R joins the family that also comprises the Clio Renaultsport 197, Megane Renaultsport 225, Megane Renaultsport dCi 175 and, from September, the Twingo Renaultsport 133. Since the launch in April 2004, the family of Megane Renaultsport has sold more than 20,000 units in almost 30 countries.

The launch of this ultimate version underlines Renault Sport Technologies’ role as a leading manufacturer of high performance cars.

Megane R26.R has been developed to:

* offer customers who enjoy trackdays a car with an unrivalled performance per pound ratio

* be an enthusiast’s icon

Radical looks

Renault Sport Technologies have given the Megane R26.R visual differences that mark out the car at first glance. The carbon fibre bonnet and new 18″ alloy wheels in red are the main visual clues together with a new rear spoiler, plus R26.R decals and logos and tinted polycarbonate in place of glass in the tailgate and rear side windows. The car is available in seven colours, two of which are new to the Megane, Racing Blue and Renault i.d. Lunar Grey and one is brand new, Renault i.d. Pearlescent White.

Inside the R26.R the atmosphere is as radical as the outside. Competition seats with a carbon fibre shell are supplied by Sabelt who also supply the six-point harnesses, the first time that this form of restraint has been homologated in a production car.  Conventional lap and diagonal seat belts can be fitted as an accessory. No rear seat is fitted. The steering wheel and gearlever gaiter are in leather and suede. A plaque shows the production number for each country:

* 230 for the UK

* 126 for France

* 26 for Spain

* 26 for Spain

* 26 for Germany

Lightweight DNA

To improve the power to weight ratio, the Megane R26.R has been on a strict diet, losing 123kg compared to the standard R26.   This has been achieved by the removal of:

* Rear seats and seat belts

* Passenger airbag and curtain airbags (the driver’s airbag remains)

* Climate control (air conditioning remains as standard)

* Rear wash/wipe and heated rear window

* Front fog lamps

* Headlamp washers

* Radio/CD player

* Most of the soundproofing

Other new elements are:

* carbon fibre bonnet (saves 7.5kg)

* tailgate and rear side windows in polycarbonate (saves 5.7kg)

* Sabelt seats with carbon fibre shell and aluminium base (saves 25kg)

* Six-point harnesses

* Rear spoiler

* Optional roll cage

* Optional titanium exhaust

A chassis without compromise

The suspension and brakes have been optimised to make the most of the new, lighter weight and to provide maximum performance. The front independent suspension is maintained but with the following new parts:

* new front springs (14mm/100kg compared to 13.4mm/100kg)

* new rear springs (16.2mm/100kg from 15.1mm/100kg)

* the shock absorber settings are also re-calibrated

* the brake discs are grooved, not drilled

* new alloy wheels are fitted with a different offset increasing the track by 4mm

* Toyo Proxes R888 225/40R18 tyres are available as an option in place of the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 2 235/40R18

* Stiffer lower arm bushes

To guarantee the best possible traction, the R26.R retains the limited slip differential from the Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26. This is a mechanical differential with helical teeth and retains the same transfer rate of 33%. The combination of this limited slip differential and independent steering-axis front suspension minimises torque steer and enables power to be applied earlier during cornering.

A performance car needs brakes that are both powerful and fade-resistant. The Megane R26.R has large 312mm ventilated discs at the front with Brembo four-piston callipers that provide stopping power at the highest level.  To resist fade, the discs are grooved as opposed to drilled.

The R26.R takes its engine and gearbox from the Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26. This develops a peak power of 230hp and torque of 310Nm. A characteristic of this engine is the wide power band, with 90% of the torque available from 2000 to 6000rpm.

However, to reduce the gear change time, a short-shift gear linkage is fitted.

The R26.R accelerates from zero to 62mph in 6 seconds and passes the 1000 metre mark in 25.9 seconds. The combined fuel consumption is 33.2 mpg and emissions are 199g/km.

Nürburgring lap record

On 23 June, the Megane R26.R established a new lap record for a front wheel drive production car of the Nürburgring circuit with a time of just 8 minutes 17 seconds.  To commemorate this exceptional level of performance, the circuit outline and lap time is etched into the rear side windows.

The Megane R26.R goes on sale in October limited to just 450 examples in total.

Price and optional equipment

The Megane R26.R is £22,990 on the road.  The pricing for the optional equipment is:

* Roll cage and Toyo Proxes tyres           £700

* Titanium exhaust                                 £tbc

* Deletion of decals                                No charge

* Black alloy wheels                               £120

* Climate control                                    £460

* Metallic paint                                      £375

* Renault i.d. Glacier White                    £150

* Renault i.d. Pearlescent Paint              £1200

Technical Specification



Type number






IF Euro4


4 cylinders in line




Iron / Aluminium



Compression ratio


Maximum power (hp)

230 @ 5500 rpm

Maximum torque

310Mn @ 3000 rpm

Injection type



Unleaded 95 or 98 RON





6 speed

Limited slip differential


Drive ratio


Gear ratios

@ 1000 rpm


13/41    5.7mph


18/35    9.2mph


28/39   12.8mph


36/38    16.9mph


42/34    22.1mph


49/33    26.5mph

Suspension – front


MacPherson strut type with L shaped lower arm and independent steering axis

Anti-roll bar diameter mm


Flexibility (mm/100kg)


Natural frequency (Hz) VODM+2


Roll centre height (mm)


Unsprung weight (kg)


Suspension – rear


Torsion beam

Flexibility (mm/100kg)


Natural frequency (Hz) VODM+2


Roll centre height (mm)


Unsprung weight (kg)



Type de freinage

Double x-circuit split

Front discs (diameter and width in mm)

312 / 28 – ventilated and grooved

Calliper – front

Brembo 4 pistons

Rear discs (diameter and width in mm)

300 / 11 – grooved

Calliper – rear

1 piston


Bosch 8.0


Yes / 100% disconnectable




Number of turns lock to lock


turning circle between kerbs/walls m

10,35 / 11,25



Michelin Pilot Sport 2 – 235/40 R18 95Y
Toyo Proxes R888 – 225/40 R18 92Y (option)

Alloy wheels

Interlagos 8J18 ET 66

Spare wheel



Length / width / height mm

4228 / 1777  / 1437

Wheelbase mm


Track front / rear mm

1517 / 1521

Weight kg

kerb weight


Distribution front / rear (%)


Gross train weight


Fuel capacity litres



Aerodynamics (Cd/Cda)

0,35 / 0,75

Top speed



0 to 62mph


standing 400m


standing 1000m



urban mpg


extra-urban mpg


combined mpg


emissions CO2 (g/km)


Renault launches Laguna wagon in New Zealand

June 20th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Laguna SW

An economical yet torquey diesel engine coupled to a six speed automatic transmission is the cornerstone of the Renault Laguna Wagon which is being launched in New Zealand.

It is the only model of the mid-sized French car available at launch, boasting a comprehensive specification, with one of the highest five star European NCAP crash testing safety ratings, four star child occupant protection and a combined cycle fuel consumption of just 7.1 litres/100 kms.

The Laguna Wagon 2.0 dCi Auto will provide an alternative for executive car buyers who don’t want a Japanese brand and who cannot justify the extra expense of a German marque. The motor’s maximum torque of 340 Nm arrives at just 2000 rpm, making it ideal for over taking on the open road and pulling strongly up hills, or idling around town in stop — start city traffic. A particulate filter is standard. Servicing is only required annually or every 20,000km.

The motor has CO2 emission of only 188 grams per kilometre. It is priced at $54,990.

Renault Megane Renaultsport F1 Team R26 2007 Review

February 2nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Megane Renaultsport F1 Team R26 2007 fq

It was a controversial season for Formula 1 last year. A rookie genius pipped at the post by a blond robot that never smiles; allegations of spying, with a huge penalty against one team that had another’s material, but not the other team that did. And it’s the other team (Renault) that supplied the car I’m thrashing about in today: the Megane Renaultsport F1 Team R26.

Apart from the badges and livery it’s about as far from Formula 1 as Pope Alexander is from Chuck Norris. Sure, you get a plaque near the handbrake that gives the build number and some truly hideous stickers on the outside to remind you that Alonso might have even heard of this model, but the only Fernando you’re likely to have in the car with you is when playing Abba. Renault is hoping for a revival of its fortunes with the arrival of its flagship sporty hot hatch to New Zealand. It won’t appeal to dancing queens, but it is perfect for the professional thirty-something who is after something different to a Japanese rice rocket; something that has a bit of style and panache, doesn’t compromise on the power front, but is almost sensible.

Almost is the key word here, because you could buy the amazing Subaru WRX and have enough spare change for a holiday to watch the Rally of Wales. But you want a Euro, not a Japper, so it’s a damn good job the R26 performs brilliantly. The handling is truly fantastic, even though it feels heavy. A red-stitched line marks centre on the leather wrapped steering wheel to add a sporty touch, but the wheel sits smack in front of a sea of boring grey plastic. The radio’s readout appears on an orange LCD at the top centre of the dash, and the radio itself is the faceplate from the Clio. Kind of boring, but functional enough. Just below that is a small LCD for the climate control. In between the rev counter and speedometer is yet another LCD that displays the cruise control speed (able to be set in increments of 2kph, fuel economy, distance to empty, trip distance and average speed).

For a car with these pretensions the dashboard lets it down. So, best you focus on the road because corners can be dispatched quickly and require concentration. The suspension copes with sharp steering inputs while you are held in place in the bucket seats. These seats aren’t as deep as your usual Jap turbo, but still provide enough lateral support.

On my test route of tricky corners and traffic islands it was very, very fast and nimble with just a hint of understeer when pushed. 235/35R18 tyres help immensely. They wrap the 12-spoke mags that conceal the red Brembo callipers and sit perfectly in the wheel arches which makes the black car look fabulous, but the yellow car look a bit nose heavy.

An engineer from Jaguar once said that 220hp is the maximum that should go through the front wheels alone. This is because they have to cope with changing direction as well as pulling the car forwards, and it’s always a compromise. The R26’s 225hp (160kW) is right on the limit and you can feel it with the torque steer generated when you push hard on the drilled aluminium accelerator pedal. It’s no worse than any other front-wheel drive car, though, and I didn’t let it stop me exploring the limits. Renault has managed to create a non-offensive, woolly, boring engine tone that is no match for the XR5’s Alfa Romeo-style growl. But at least there’s no turbo whine like the XR5 has. I would suggest a new exhaust if you are serious, and that may even liberate some more horsepower.

Deceleration is as impressive as acceleration. The brakes are extremely keen and I had to adjust my heel-toe technique to avoid breaking my nose on the windscreen. The handbrake is also extreme. Its handle is like the throttle on a jet aircraft and seemed to allow more power to be applied to it.

Buy the F1 and you get 3 doors, which says that you’re young and virile with no kids. Buy the 5-door RS 225 for an extra two grand and you get leather seats and a more family friendly package.

Would I have the Renaultsport F1 Team R26 over its non-Japanese competitors — the Ford Focus XR5 and VW Golf GTI? I immediately liked the XR5 — the power, the styling, and especially the engine note. The seats are better than the Megane, and so are the dashboard, mags and general interior fitout. But despite the truly splendid engine tone the annoying turbo whistle bugged me far too much — there was no escape from it. So, the Megane R26 F1 wins out over the Ford, and it even wins out over Volkswagen’s very competent GTI despite the Golf having the DSG gearbox because there are just too many Golfs around — the Megane is more individual. The only things I really couldn’t live with on the R26 are the boring woolly engine tone and the ghastly optional stickers. Nothing an exhaust and some foresight when ordering one wouldn’t fix. My final verdict is Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

Price: from $49,990 ($51,990 for the 5-door with leather seats)

What we like

  • Power
  • Comfort
  • Styling (in black; yellow doesn’t look so good)
  • Grip
  • Brakes
  • Handbrake — all cars should have one like this

What we don’t like

  • Lose the stickers
  • Change the exhaust
  • Low rent dashboard
  • Front-wheel drive traction issues cause torque steer

Words Darren Cottingham, photos Brad Lord

Safety and Security

Five Star Euro NCAP Safety Rating

Survival safety passenger cell with front and rear crumple zones

Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with understeer control Sports-tuned

ABS brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S

Driver and front passenger adaptive SRS airbags

Driver and passenger lateral SRS airbags

Side SRS curtain airbags (cabin length)

Anti-submarining airbags for front seats

Programmed Restraint System (PRS)

Front/outer rear seatbelt pretensioners

Load force limiters in front seatbelts

3 rear 3-point lap-sash seatbelts

ISOFIX child seat mounting points

Side impact bars and honey combed padding in doors

Fuel cut-off in event of impact

Remote central locking

Door open and fasten seatbelt indicators

Electric front windows (One touch and anti-pinch)

Electric variable power assisted steering

Light sensitive automatic headlights

‘See me home’ function headlights

Rain sensitive automatic wipers

‘Smart’ rear wiper

Cruise control with speed limiter

Comfort and Versatility

Upholstery Cloth – Dark charcoal with silver stitching

Leather wrap steering wheel and gear lever cover

Automatic climate control air-conditioning

Air recycling and particle filter

Air-chilled glove box

AM/FM stereo with CD and finger tip control Single CD (MP3 compatible)

‘Clean Hands’ integrated fuel filler cap

60/40 split fold rear seats

Height adjustment on driver’s seat

Lumbar adjustment on driver’s seat

Adjustable front and rear head restraints ‘Anti-whiplash’

Drilled aluminium pedals

Front and rear armrests

Under floor storage

Tinted Glass

Height and reach adjustable steering column

Steering column mounted audio controls

Renault F1 Team Plaque

Trip computer and outside temperature gauge


Electronic engine immobiliser

Keyless car with Renault card

Renault Anti-Intruder Device (RAID) automatic locking system


Body coloured bumpers, inserts and bodyside protection mouldings

Electric, foldable, heated door mirrors

Chrome door handles

Chrome double outlet exhaust

Fog lamps

Metallic paint

Renault F1 Team decals on the front, roof, sides, and rear bumpers

Wheels Renault Sport 18″ grey BeBop alloy wheels

Xenon headlights with washers

Seating Capacity

No. of seats 5


Capacity (cc): 1998

Bore x stroke (mm): 82.7 x 93

Number of cylinders/valves: 4/16

Compression ratio: 9:1

Max. power kW EEC (hp) at a speed of (rpm) 168 (230) @ 5500

Max. torque Nm at a speed of (rpm) 310 @ 3000

Acceleration 0-100km/h (secs) 6.5

Type of injection: Multipoint

Fuel: Unleaded (Premium rec.)

Induction: Intercooled Turbo

Exhaust catalyst: Euro IV


Type 6-speed Manual

Speeds (km/h) at 1000 rpm:

1st gear 9.7

2nd gear 14.71

3rd gear 20.54

4th gear 27.1

5th gear 35.33

6th gear 42.45


Type Variable Electric Power Assisted

Turning circle (m) (kerbs) 10.35



MacPherson type with L-shaped lower arm, independent steering axis and anti-sway bar


H-style rear axle and anti-sway bar


Uprated front and rear spring rates

Retuned front and rear damper settings

New Limited Slip Differential

Wheels – Tyres

Wheels 8.0 J 18

Reference tyres Michelin Pilot Sport 2 – 235/40 R18

Emergency spare wheel Steel Wheel 185/60/R17


ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S

Front – ventilated discs (mm) Brembo® – Drilled and ventilated discs (312mm)

Rear – solid discs (mm)

Brembo® – Drilled solid discs (300mm) with red callipers

Fuel Consumption

Litres/100km combined cycle 8.5


Standard fuel tank (litres) 60

Weight (kg)

Unladen kerb weight 1355

Max. weight, unbraked trailer 650

Max. weight, braked trailer 1000

Dimensions (mm)

Overall length 4228

Overall width (including door mirrors) 1777

Overall height 1437

Front head room, seat angle 14 degrees 885

Rear head room, seat angle 14 degrees 899

Luggage Compartment Volume (litres) (with all seats up) 330


3 years/unlimited km S

3 year 24 Hour AA Roadside Assistance S

Renault 6 year anti-corrosion S

Renault Clio III 5-door Dynamique 2007 Review

October 4th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Clio III 2007 fq

First launched over 17 years ago at the Paris Motor Show, Clio (being the Muse of History) is now a particularly apt name for Renault’s small and economical city car. It’s lauded as the car that saved Renault after a dismal decade beforehand, and has written a chapter in Renault’s success that has seen the Clio as one of the top selling cars in Europe since 1992.

Despite winning the European Motoring Journalists’ Car of the Year in 2006 this third-generation Clio doesn’t shout about its success. In fact, it’s quite possibly the quietest car I’ve driven. The 1.6-litre engine isn’t stressed producing the 82kW and 151Nm of torque, and that equates to fairly frugal motoring but lethargic performance (0-100 takes 12.2 seconds).

It also has a more mature and understated presence than its 1.4-litre predecessor. A low window line gives a sense of spaciousness inside. The slightly protruding rump is in keeping with the rest of the Renault range.

I had to revert to the instruction manual to find out how to turn on the cruise control and speed limiter. Once it’s activated, Renault’s system of letting you see the actual speed you’ve set as opposed to guessing by the position of the needle is a useful and practical solution to keeping at or under the speed you want.

Audio controls for volume are on a stubby wand on the steering column, augmented by a wheel control for frequency and buttons to choose the source. The FM stereo/CD player takes one disc and has a reasonable sound quality through its 6 x 15W speakers. The display is positioned at the top of the console on the dashboard and it also shows the outside temperature and time.

Positioned prominently in the console are the very simple controls for the air conditioning. Sometimes I yearn for a back-to-basics approach in this area, often finding that with today’s more complex climate control systems it takes too much effort just to get it to blow cold or hot. No such problem in the Renault with a clearly marked temperature dial consisting of blue lines and red lines. Retro!

For a small car, it has impressive safety features. A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating comes courtesy of a barrage of airbags and injury-minimising technology. Six airbags (including lateral and side curtain airbags the length of the cabin), and seatbelt pretensioners do their job should the ABS, electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBA) not keep you out of trouble. Fuel is automatically cut in the event of an impact.

The Renault is slightly more expensive than other cars of this size because of the multitude of little things you get, like an air-chilled glove box, air recycling and particle filter, leather steering wheel and gear lever boot, fully telescopic steering wheel adjustment, trip computer and tinted glass.

Seventeen years of history has bred a car that is safe and handles well. Here’s hoping that there’s a hot hatch version on the way like the Clio 182.

Price: from $28,990

What we like

  • The little things
  • Quiet
  • Comfort
  • Handling

What we don’t like

  • Renault recommends premium fuel

Words and photos by Darren Cottingham

A Subaru WRX STI Version 8 Type-RA Spec C by any other name would drive as sweet

July 13th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Names of cars can achieve mythical status, and this is why teams of branding people spend millions of dollars ensuring that names like the Nissan Cedric happen as infrequently as possible. But, they do slip through, either as a result of a poor translation or a looming home-time deadline on a Friday afternoon.

Car names evoke emotions, and emotions invoke opening your wallet. So, before you’re suckered in, check out these tricks:

Car names as animals and birds

There will never be a Ford Wombat. No, it must be deadly, like the Shelby Cobra or Dodge Viper; stealthy but swift, like the Ford Puma; elegant and graceful like the Triumph Stag; efficient and ruthless killers like the Ford Falcon or Plymouth Barracuda; or it can be a prey animal as long as it’s in a noble, workmanlike, industrious way, like the Hyundai Pony, Dodge Ram, and Volkswagen Beetle.

Car names as places

Giving a car a desirable place name gives it added credibility, even if the car is bad (that means you, Hyundai Santa Fe and Pontiac/Opel Le Mans). The Americans love naming their cars after places¦usually their own places seeing as the vast majority of them only know about other countries if they’re at war with them. So, the Shelby Daytona Coupe, Pontiac Bonneville, Dodge Dakota and Chevrolet Tahoe all fit the bill.

Car names as mythical creatures

TVR do a good line in dredging up names from Greek mythology — Cerbera and Chimera, for example — but other manufacturers have also dabbled, such as the Renault Clio (Muse of History) and the various incarnations of the Phaeton (son of Helios and the Sun). They’re not making any more mythology, though, so the number of names is limited.

People’s names on cars

This one has a mixed track record. At one end we have the Ferraris (Enzo and Dino), and at the other we have the aforementioned Cedric and the Ford Edsel. Nissan kept the trend alive with the Silvia, and the Serena. It’s probably best to steer clear of names, especially ones like Rupert and Hitler.

Names in other languages

As most of the major car manufacturers are from non-English-speaking countries it’s hardly surprising that many names derive from other languages such as Lupo (wolf), Viva (alive), Astra (stars) and Ignis (fire).

Numbers, series and classes

Probably the safest, and the ultimate cop out, is to use a series of numbers or classes. Mercedes has an enormous range of classes — A-class, B-class, C-class, CLK-class, CLS-class, E-class, GL-class, M-class, R-class, S-class, SL-class and SLK-class, not to mention the AMG-tuned range. BMW has its 1-series, 3-series, 5-series, 6-series, 7-series, M-series, X-series and Z-series, and then there’s the crossover with the Z4M¦confusing! Peugeot has a monopoly on numbers with a zero in the middle, after objecting to Porsche’s use of 901-909 (hence the birth of the 911). But, they did not challenge Ferrari over their 208GT4 and 308GT4, and they would most likely leave 007 alone.

There are also overused letters — GT, RS, R, GTR, L, LX, T, etc. Adding a letter on the end often means you get one or two extra features, but it now seems more sporty or luxurious in your mind.

Names that are ridiculously long

With the plethora of initials and names, we’re presented with names that are so long that by the time you’ve finished reciting them you’ve forgotten how you started. Peugeot’s 206 GTI 180 has nine syllables without the manufacturer’s name, and don’t even go there with Subaru and Mitsubishi’s rally weapons, or anything tuned by a third party like Nismo, Alpina, Rinnspeed, Techart or Brabus.

Invented names

Jackaroo, Korando, Ceed, Impreza, Exige, Hiace, Legnum. Would an infinite number of monkeys on typewriters come up with some of these? Probably not.

Names that should never have been

A Hummer is English slang for flatulence, Pajero is often used in Mexico to mean ‘one who pleasures himself’, and Toyota’s Enima is far too close to enema. But, the popular urban legend around Chevy’s Nova meaning ‘does not go’ in Spanish is not true.

Real words

Discovery, Polo, Legacy, Commodore, Accord, Laser. Well, let’s just thumb through a dictionary until something pops up. There’s always the problem of trademark infringement or accidentally picking a name that has a non-competing undesirable product though, so prep those intellectual property lawyers!

So, you can always modify a real word slightly: Integra, Multipla, Agila, Previa, Octavia. Shove an a on the end of a word, and you’re on your way.

Are all the cool names used?,

Well, if you want to get the .com of your new car name, you’d better be prepared to make up something wacky. The more history we have, the less opportunity there is for cool new names, but the more opportunity there is for resurrecting evocative older names. With global markets naming is more complex than ever, so suddenly those numbers and codes look mighty attractive.

Words Darren Cottingham

Real words

Discovery, Polo, Legacy, Commodore, Accord, Accord, Laser. Well, let’s just thumb through a dictionary until something pops up. There’s always the problem of trademark infringement or accidentally picking a name that has a non-competing undesirable product though, so prep those intellectual property lawyers!

So, you can always modify a real word slightly: Integra, Multipla, Agila, Previa, Octavia. Shove an a on the end of a word, and you’re on your way.

Are all the cool names used?

Well, if you want to get the .com of your new car name, you’d better be prepared to make up something wacky. The more history we have, the less opportunity there is for cool new names, but the more opportunity there is for resurrecting evocative older names. With global markets naming is more complex than ever, so suddenly those numbers and codes look mighty attractive.

Words Darren Cottingham,

Renault Scenic II Dynamique 2007 Review

July 13th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Renault Scenic II

Renault’s aptly named Scenic II is perfectly tailored to travelling whilst observing. Riding in it feels like you’re somehow on a scenic lookout. It’s not tall like an SUV, because you still feel like it’s a car, but it’s a car on tiptoes trying to sneak glimpses of a more distant horizon.
The horizon certainly won’t be appearing at speed, though, because the two-litre engine musters only 98kW. What it does do with flair, however, is transport lots of people (well, up to five of them), animals and/or stuff.
The front and rear bumpers have been redesigned, with the grille gaining more prominence. Headlights and taillights have been brought up-to-date (i.e. LEDs), and the equipment and interior trim levels in our test ‘Dynamique’ model are an improvement. More sound deadening means you can enjoy the six-disc in-dash, MP3-compatible CD player, and there are the driver assists such as steering column-mounted audio controls, light and rain sensors, and climate control. Safety is also good with six airbags and a five-star NCAP crash rating.
In the rush hour test it performed boringly well. It was exceptionally comfortable and the seating position gives a superior view of the surrounding traffic. To escape the tedium I took it to a windy road and again, it coped better than I expected. All its digital trickery (Electronic Stability Programme, Electronic Brake Distribution, etc) prevented me from falling into the scenery. If only it had another 40kW to play with, it would be a really fun drive.
Its extreme practicality must make it the favourite of many an upwardly mobile breeding female with family dog and accoutrements — up to 400 litres of them in the boot, which is easily enough to pack a camping holiday. In fact, there’s almost enough room to have a revolution in there. Renault have thought about who will be travelling in this car, so there are lots of friendly features for rear passengers. As well as sunblinds on the passenger windows, on the back of the driver and passenger seats there are fold-down trays with cup holders. The tray is airline-style, and big enough for a small laptop, or a kid’s book. There’s even a fold-down mirror in the front so you can keep an eye on the little tykes.

Each rear seat is independently movable — it will slide forwards or backwards — and the seats can be individually completely removed from the Scenic giving you a huge load space. One niggle is that you can’t easily drop the back seats forwards via the boot — you have to open the passenger door to get at the handle. Fold down a seat, though, and it will comfortably fit several snowboards. There are also a reasonable number of cubby holes under seats and in doors, but none of them fit a water bottle except for the enormous central binnacle.
Starting the Renault is a function hampered by security. Insert the black credit card-sized key into the dash to disable the immobiliser then press a button to start the engine. This sort of process has a certain (tolerable) presence with an Aston Martin, but as the Scenic’s engine bursting into life isn’t accompanied by eight cylinders piercing the tranquillity it seems tiresome.
The Scenic II is a trendy looking car, and its ‘bottom’ (a contentious styling issue on the Megane) has had some nip and tuck. It is practicality packaged with a little French design flair, and for a smidge under 43 grand, it’s great value for money.

Looking to purchase a Renault Scenic? Click here to view Scenics for sale

Price: from $42,990

What we like:

  • Styling
  • It’s quiet
  • Brakes are keen
  • It’s tres practical
  • Price is good
  • User controllable speed limiter

What we don’t like:

  • Lack of power (exacerbated by the gear ratios)
  • Engine harshness between 100-110kph
  • Difficult to get a comfortable seating position without being quite upright

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

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