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Renault Fuego. It remained with smoldering

Renault Fuego. It remained with smoldering
ER Classics Desktop 2022

That was wrong. The design of the Renault Fuego was attractive and balanced, the technology both tried and tested and progressive. But those eternal prejudices…

Cliche

So those eternal prejudices: Americans are fat and fake. All of them. Germans have an evolutionary dislike for any joke, but again, statistically speaking, they have not lagged as noticeably as Belgians. And to mask their own garlic scent, the French are such masters of perfumery. But especially building in bad cars. Here's the spread out bed for the beautiful Renault Fuego.


Good basic

With its predecessors, the fraternal twins Renault 15 en Renault 17Renault had not been overly successful. That did not stop the old brand from making a renewed attempt to put a successful coupé on the market. All the ingredients for it were there. In terms of technology, the Renault Fuego relied almost entirely on the Renault 18. A worse base was imaginable, contrary to what the entrenched French-Transport-Is-Always-Muck Blindfold Legion would have you believe. Its technology was almost bulletproof and was completed in the Renault Fuego with special innovations: remote control for the locks and radio control on the steering wheel in the most expensive versions. You didn't find that on any other car back then. Not even if a three-pointed star or flying chick was exhibited on the expensive nose.

Reality

Of course the Renault Fuego rusted. Almost all cars still did that, in the early 80s. But that brown stigma stuck many times more strongly on French cars than on the rest. While many Japanese models from the same era often dissolved faster than their Southern European counterparts. But that went without a hitch. And the electric spaghetti that passed for electronics in Italian cars was in many cases worse than the technology of this Fuego, which in that area invariably got a lot of beating from nagging brothers-in-law on birthdays. In reality, it really went well. Roadside assistance used to be a busy business, but it didn't just run on Fuegos. Everything could and would break down when it came to cars and that was normal. Not the Renault Fuego.

The fastest

In 1980 Renault introduced this striking coupé, initially with a 1,4 or 1,6 liter petrol engine. The front tires lasted quite a long time, 64 or 95 hp did not immediately go up in smoke. Later, the rubber tracks on the asphalt became a bit thicker: the 2 liter version brought it up to 110 hp. The 1,6 liter in the Fuego Turbo streaked 132 hp on the road surface. The Fuego Turbo diesel was even the fastest diesel car on the market for a while, the 2,1 liter self-igniter reached a top speed of 180 km/h. This was, of course, also thanks to the excellent Cw value of 0,32 of this design, created by the brain of Michel Jardin. His colleagues regularly had considerably less days.

Joie de vivre

Just look at the competition. Such a Scirocco looked a lot more imaginative. German, especially. A Manta from that era only became beautiful decades later. The Capri tasted quite nice, but also a lot more rude than the flamboyant Fuego. It seemed to radiate much more fun in life than its blood-serious competitors. Joie de vivre sounds very different then enjoyment of life† More than 225.000 enthusiasts thought so and bought a Renault Fuego, until it went out of production in 1986. About 40.000 were built in Argentina, until the curtain fell for this beautiful Renault in 1995. The sales numbers made the Fuego a success, but its ill-gotten image killed it immediately and for good. Ineradicable prejudices like wildfire; the Renault Fuego deserved much better. Ce not just pass.

Also read:
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- Renault Avantime (2001-2003): Soon a healed classic!
- The Renault Rambler (1966): Stylish 'French' American for Christiaan Aaldijk ... 

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9 Comments

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  1. The Fuego was created under the leadership of Robert Opron – just defected from Citroën, where he was responsible for the GS, the facelift of the DS and his great success the CX. – after the Fuego, he designed the Renault 25, the success of the Renault that has never been matched on this scale.

  2. The R18 is designed too slim for most people, I think. That partly killed him.
    Just look at the competition: the more clumsy the more beautiful it was (and still: thinks). The Capri and Manta became more and more ungainly in the course of the facelifts, as did BMW-all-series, Mini Coopers, Maseratis and the self-proclaimed sporty VAG products. Everything is obese- automotive and it's selling like crazy.

  3. And there was so much more fun for sale in terms of coupés at that time (for convenience I throw the sportier 2 and 3 door versions in one heap). Datsun Silvia, Honda Prelude, Toyota Celica, Mitsubishi Sapporo… Every self-respecting brand had one or more sporty-lined (but not necessarily fast) 2-3 doors on offer.

  4. Very contemporary design, daring too.
    I was working at Renault at the time, when people were still brand loyal. Les beaux fois!

  5. Great car! I used to have one, phase II that hardly rusted anymore, bought with about 50k on the clock and put in over two tons. Literally zero problems. To my shame I have to say that I neglected the maintenance in the end, but the car kept on driving. Truly indestructible technology. The car was, especially for a coupé, very practical, I have transported everything with it. Household goods, moving to living in a room a few x), pallets, those large gas bottles, with eight people, all went into that Fuego.
    The engine powers no longer arouse desire (at a time when a house-garden-kitchen car should already have a bizarre 200hp that is barely used), but at that time they were just market-conform or even slightly better. The aforementioned Capri, Manta and Scirocco started with 50, 55 and 45hp respectively. Then the 64hp of the entry-level Fuego is suddenly not so low.
    A friend of mine was able to take over a very nice silver-grey Turbo with very few kilometers from an older gentleman a few years ago: beautiful car! I would like to have a bright red Turbo like that.

    • If the prejudice only existed here, would that mean that this car was still driving with bushes in France? Because that is not the case.

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