Renault Safrane: history; production; motors; decline

In the history of French manufacturers there is no shortage of large sedans, but not all high-end products of transalpine production can be said to be equally successful, especially in relatively recent times. Renaultfor example, it has always had a controversial relationship with upper-class sedans.

Unlike its rival Citroen, which managed to have essential utility cars and innovative sedans such as the 2CV and the DS in its range at the same time, the Losanga has definitely had better luck with small and medium-sized cars. Yet, the Renault Safranethe last flagship of classic shapes launched in 1992 and remaining in production for 8 years, it was by no means a car lacking in quality.

The legacy of the 25

In the early 1990s, Renault was facing a particularly significant transition period, coinciding with the transition from numbers to actual names to identify models, and with technical and stylistic revolutions. In the lower area of ​​the price list, success was guaranteed by Clioheir to the successful R5 dynasty, to which the Twingo would soon be added.

Renault Safrane RXE 1992

On the upper floors, however, things were struggling a little more: with the 25, the Losanga had adjusted the trend passing from the large 2-volume and 5-door sedans carried forward with the R16, 20 and 30, to the solution of the 2 volumes “and a half”that is, with a tailgate but a portion of the tail, which gave them a slightly more classic and elegant appearance while maintaining practicality.

However, the 25 had been discreetly received at home but more lukewarmly in the rest of Europe, also due to faults such as the finishes not up to the German competition and engines not always completely reliable. Defects that his heir was obliged to overcome.

Safrane is born

The new model, baptized Safrane, recovering the name used for some versions of the R14 sold outside France, had a very similar development, retained the tailgate and the volumes of the 25, so much so that at the time of presentation at the Geneva Motor Show from ’92I suspect it was simply a makeover.

Renault Safrane Biturbo 1993, dashboard

Renault Safrane Biturbo 1993, dashboard

In reality, Renault, which in the previous decade had faced a series phase financial difficultywas sailing towards better shores and had invested heavily to make the new flagship more suited to market expectations.

Long 4.73 metershad a design that was no longer angular but soft, made of rounded lines that underlined the important stylistic change of course started in those years, and almost futuristic interiors, with instrument panel and controls of aeronautical inspiration, as well as very spacious.

As for the mechanics and to the chassis, the traction remained front like on the 25, but with a more modern architecture a transverse engine, while the suspensions were independent also at the rear. The richer versions were equipped with hydraulic and pneumatic shock absorbers with automatic leveling system and ABS, while the brakes were self-ventilated disc at the front and solid disc or drum behind depending on the set-up and the market.

Renault Safrane RXE Quadra 1993

Renault Safrane 3.0 V6 RXE Quadra 1993

The engine range it was quite varied already at launch, and featured a number of family units Douvrin developed and produced in collaboration with Peugeot. At the base there was a 2.0 8-valve 107 bhp of which a 12V variant was also planned (with 3 valves per cylinder) and about 130 bhp for markets where displacements above two liters were subject to higher taxes, such as the ‘Italy.

Above it were the 2.2, with 8 or 12 valves, with powers of 110 and 138 HP, while at the top of the range was the 3.0 V6 PRV, fruit of the three-way alliance with Peugeot itself and with Volvo, in a 170 hp 12-valve version. After the good results of previous years, Renault decided to include in the list a 90 HP 2.1 turbodiesel, once again belonging to the Douvrin family. There was also a 4-speed automatic transmission offered for the more powerful engines, as an alternative to the standard 5-speed manual.

Renault Safrane Biturbo 1993, movement

Renault Safrane Biturbo 1993, movement

Renault Safrane Biturbo 1993, detail

Renault Safrane Biturbo 1993, detail

The Biturbo and the other news

Remaining almost unchanged during its first 4 years of life, at least from the point of view of the engines, the Safrane enriched the range with different configurations, including some more accurate special editions.

The main engine innovations were introduced almost all together and immediately already during 1993, starting with a second turbodiesel, 2.5 liters and 113 HP, produced by Sofim, together with the variant 3.0 V6 Quadraequipped with semi-permanent all-wheel drive with viscous coupling already proposed on Espace even if in that case with the 2.2 engine.

Renault Safrane 2.2 SI RT 1992

Renault Safrane 2.2 SI RT 1992

The real big news was, once again in ’93, the Biturbo, powered by a further version of the 3.0 V6 with double turbocharger and a power of other 260 hp for 365 Nm of torque. Born on the basis of the Quadra version, they retained all-wheel drive, but boasted a top speed of 250 km / h and a 0-100 of 7.2 seconds against the 225 km / h and 11.5 seconds of the naturally aspirated Quadra.

Renault Safrane 1996, frontal

Renault Safrane 1996, frontal

The restyling and the decline

Safrane’s career was certainly not dazzling: like her ancestor 25 she had a good reception in France and a weaker one in the rest of Europe, where she was criticized not for driveability or road holding – considered excellent – but for consumption judged above average, which certainly the more powerful engines did not help to improve. The only exception was the 2.5 diesel, a good compromise considering the performance. Even the line, while modern, never made the hearts of motorists beat faster.

So in 1996 here comes the restylinghowever, with results that are not at all welcome, indeed, in light of the facts capable of worsening the style of the flagship: redesigned but less characteristic front and L-shaped rear lights, more original but with a taste too close to the Japanese one at the time not so popular in Europe.

Renault Safrane 1996, retro

Renault Safrane 1996, retro

Change of style together with a rationalization of the engine range, with the 2.0 and 2.2 replaced by a base engine of just under 2 liters and a 2.5, both made in collaboration with Volvo and more efficient, for 136 and 164 hp. A new 2.2dt turbodiesel from 113 HP this time “all Renault” replaced the previous 2.1 and 2.5.

Furthermore, the Quadra and Biturbo versions (the only one to have interesting prices today, between 6,000 and 10,000 euros for the best preserved of the 103,000 units built) left the scene, while the 3.0 V6 PRV was updated with 4V warheadspower of 194 hp and automatic transmission as standard.

In terms of sales, Safran continued to record a decline in sales until 2000, when Safrane was permanently retired after totaling just over 300,000 units to be replaced, but only 2 years later, by the eccentric Golfanother model full of expectations unfortunately not met.

Source: Italia – News by

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