Renault 19 drove to modernity
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.