Re­nault 19 drove to moder­nity

Rutherglen Reformer - - Drivetime - Ian John­son

LAUNCH­ING the right prod­uct at the right time is the dream of ev­ery man­u­fac­turer.

Look at Ford’s suc­cess in its golden years of the Es­cort and Cortina for proof.

But Re­nault cer­tainly got the ball in the back of the net with its 19 model which was launched in 1988.

It was a time of great change and the old 9 saloon and 11 hatch­back were most def­i­nitely at the end of their shelf life.

So off came the wraps and in drove the 19 which re­placed them both.

The 19 has a much broader in­ter­na­tional ap­peal than the cars it re­placed and was the com­pany’s main­stream model for much of the next decade.

Here was a to­tally mod­ern car with a dash of style which of­fered a wide choice of en­gines – all trans­versely mounted – to give op­ti­mum use of in­te­rior space.

It was at that time when much fo­cus was on body strength and rigid­ity and there­fore the 19 was fairly heavy for its size.

De­spite this a 1.4 ver­sion had 100mph in its sights but ac­cel­er­a­tion was not fan­tas­tic with a 0-62mph fig­ure of 15 sec­onds.

On the econ­omy front, low 40s in mpg fig­ures were the norm and this was not too bad for the time.

This was one of the cars that was the re­sult of pro­duc­tion au­to­ma­tion, some­thing in which Re­nault had in­vested heav­ily.

The com­pany had been acutely aware of pro­duc­tion costs af­ter some heavy losses and the robo­ti­sa­tion plan was a true turn­ing point.

At launch there were two body styles – a three door and a five door, with the well-liked Chamade saloon and Cabrio com­ing later.

The base model in 1988 was the 1.2TR, with the flag­ship be­ing the twin-cam 16v, one of the most un­der­rated per­for­mance hatches of the time. The main­stream model was the 1.4 En­ergy.

Although a rel­a­tively mod­ern car the num­ber of 19s on the UK’s roads is dwin­dling fast with some ver­sions down to sin­gle fig­ures.

A shame re­ally be­cause the car has not achieved true clas­sic sta­tus and as such when ex­pen­sive re­pairs were needed many were sent to the crusher.

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